The Online Photographer

Check out our new site at!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Q&A about Photography at the NYT

This week, the Talk to the Newsroom column of the New York Times is featuring Assistant Managing Editor for Photography Michele McNally, who will answer reader questions about photography at the Times.

Note: registration (free) may be required to view this feature.

Posted by: OREN GRAD


Blogger Joshwa said...

I'm counting down til we see a question from someone from ASMP about the ridiculous NYT contract...

1:05 PM  
Blogger carpeicthus said...

I'd love to see that large format Hassy. NYT special.

1:06 PM  
Blogger John said...

"We have Hasselblad large format equipment that shoots film."

I suppose for newspaper or magazine work that could be called large format. ;-)

1:17 PM  
Blogger JeffH said...

One comment Michelle made that particularly caught my eye was “You are prohibited from shooting bridges and tunnels, less so the subway.” This is a quite curious. Last time I checked, here in the USA, we had a right to photograph anything that can be seen from a public space. Can anyone from New York comment on this? Is there actually a law in New York prohibiting what can be photographed?

2:14 PM  
Blogger JeffH said...

Here is a link to a very interesting article about Sports Illustrated's work flow at a major sporting event. It also talks about the equipment used, meta data tagging and the database management that they use.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Ched said...

"...Canon 35mm Mark IIs..." Uh, which Mark IIs? "You are prohibited from shooting bridges and tunnels..." While in some cases this might be true (i'd have to read the law), I see many new photos of bridges (including the big ones in NYC) all the time. This is a terribly broad, over-generalized statement that will have people wondering if they might expect a knock on the door.

2:23 PM  
Blogger carstenw said...

Wow, in one short answer she messed up every technical detail, from large-format Hassies to non-descript mark II's to the D5, presumably the Canon 5D. What a performance.

2:33 PM  
Blogger David A. Goldfarb said...

There have been proposals to restrict photography in the NYC subway, and as I understand it, those proposals have all failed. Here are some photographs from one protest against the proposal--

There is a restriction against photographing bridges and tunnels in New York, but I am not sure how well it is or could be enforced. I've appeared in a national AP wire story photographing a viaduct with an 11x14" camera, and I haven't had any knocks on the door from police, nor did the two police cars that passed by while I was making the photograph stop to ask any questions of me or the AP photographer.

Some park police did stop and watch me while I was photographing a decayed pier with a handheld 6x9 folding camera, but when I finished, they moved on and didn't any ask questions. Here is the photograph--

2:44 PM  
Blogger Josh Hawkins said...

Well she may have technically screwed up her "large format" response, with the changes currently happening, it's not all that inaccurate. The old standard format (35mm) has been shrunk to the new standard APS-C sensors. The larger brother is ff 35mm sensor, it does what medium format used to do in terms of resulution. And in the digital world the largest "common" format is on your hassy. In digital we've got the old standard formats, minus 4x5 and plus a new smaller standard.

Though I have to say, overall, her answers aren't entirely encouraging, but I'm a tech dork.

4:19 PM  
Blogger carpeicthus said...

They updated the article to read "Hasselblad AND large format equipment."

8:36 PM  
Blogger robertw said...

I have seen signs prohibiting photography around the entrances to the Holland Tunnel, and also near the GWB. It's not always public property either, the Port Authority manages these areas. They can restrict what happens on their property if they want, although I don't know if they are wholly public or private.

I don't think anyone believes you can't photography bridges from public areas. That is not what she was addressing.

Personally I have had more hassles from rent a cops near large corporate buildings than from police.

Also, as it stands now, there is no "ban" on photography in the subway, although permission must be sought for commercial shoots and for using tripods or other lighting equipment.

fwiw, I shoot for the Times in New York

Michelle worked for years at Fortune and knows good photography. She leaves it to the gear heads to know the difference between a 5D and a if it matters.


9:53 PM  
Blogger oren said...

OK, the Times has updated the page, correcting the original "We have Hasselblad large format equipment that shoots film" to read "We have Hasselblad and large format equipment that shoots film." The D5/5D confusion has been corrected, too.

The Hasselblad thing is something of an inside joke among large format photographers. If you keep at it for long enough, odds are that one day while you're setting up the camera on the street or along the trail you will be approached by someone asking "Gee, is that a Hasselblad?"

So it was good for a chuckle. What really matters, of course, is the answers to the other questions.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

I admit sent them a message earlier suggesting the corrections, but for the edification of photographers I'd point out the truth of what Oren and Robertw have noted. The attitude of Ms. McNally towards equipment is not the least bit unusual or uncommon. Most picture editors and art directors could care less about it. Equipment fetishism is the raison d'etre of the web, but it's really almost incidental to success as a photographer. It's the picture that matters.

I once encountered David Hume Kennerly in a deli in Washington D.C. Some hobbyist was asking him what camera he used, and he answered, "It doesn't matter. IT DOESN'T MATTER." People who haven't experienced the truth of this firsthand shouldn't let the lesson be lost.


1:00 AM  
Blogger John Roberts said...

A point well made, Mike - the equipment make and model doesn't matter. I have read every biography of every photographer that our local library owns. One thing they all have in common is minimal mention of equipment. To the greatest photographers, cameras were tools; the object of their passion was their work, not their equipment. I just finished reading Gordon Parks' autobiography. There may have been 4-5 lines in the entire book that made any mention of equipment make or model used. Parks was way too busy with his many interests to spend time drooling over the latest B&H catalog.

4:34 AM  
Blogger maiken said...

I wrote an email to the Times about the potential inaccuracy of the statement "You are prohibited from shooting bridges and tunnels, less so the subway.", and posted a copy on my blog.

1:22 PM  
Blogger carpeicthus said...

Very good point, Mike; the best PJ I know personally don't know much at all about his gear, other than that it works for him. And the D5/5D thing is something that all sorts of people do with Canon models, which is why it seemed weird to me that they came out with a 30D -- people had been shooting with a camera they called the 30D for years.

It was a funny typo, but in the end the joke is on those of us who aren't NYT photography editors.

3:36 PM  
Blogger bjorke said...

Working PJs know better than to listen to McNally about what is and isn't legal when they're out shooting. At least I hope so.

I find it interesting that she disagrees with Maisel on this, when clearly he would be some who's knowledgable (and quotes his sources). The NPPA has recently also reminded its members about the realities of press priveleges in news gathering vis-a-vis the First Amendment. You can find comments on both here or in general on PhotoPermit.Org.

1:29 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home