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Steal this look?

12 Aug

Steal this look?

I’ve spent the last ten years moving back and forth from print magazines to online publications. I used to worry that the shifts would make me look unfocused, but now the lines of print and digital are blurring. You can’t be a good print editor if you’re not thinking about digital, and — while this is perhaps less obvious — you’re a stronger digital editor if you understand how to put a well together.

Lately, for reasons that will be obvious in a moment, I’ve been thinking about ethics with regard to ownership and copyright. As anyone who’s been following Fareed Zakaria’s plagiarism and Jonah Lehrer’s quote fabrication knows, even journalists at the top aren’t necessarily above lifting the work of others or just plain making stuff up.

Which brings us to BlackBook magazine.

A few weeks ago, Sabs informed me that I was in BlackBook. More specifically, the back of my head was sitting next to Katniss Everdeen’s face. The photo was taken for a braid tutorial at Sugar, and it was used without permission. Did we receive an email asking us about the photo? Not at all. I expect this sort of lifting from Tumblr blogs, but not from a print magazine. So I emailed BlackBook’s editor, Joshua David Stein, to let him know about the issue. After two weeks without a reply, I nudged him this morning, and he’s putting me in touch with the photo editor. Story at 11.

I’m writing about this not to trash BlackBook; I assume this isn’t standard procedure for them. Do mistakes happen? Yes. Of course. I’ve worked with writers who, knowingly or unknowingly, lifted someone else’s work — and I’ve had to let them go. But for some people, the idea of content ownership is passé, a dusty old-guard way of thinking. That’s fine if you’re into curation, but not so great if you’re hoping to encourage originality and creativity. And it’s definitely not good for writers and photographers who’ve traditionally been paid for their work.

Last week, in some sort of publishing-industry balancing karma, a different magazine’s photo editor reached out about publishing a photo from Admiring Distance. And as excited as I am about that, I’m also glad that seeing my photo in the magazine won’t be a surprise.

In search of lost time

6 Jan

In search of lost time

When Betty came to visit, she gave me a single paperwhite bulb. I didn’t have a proper container to force it, so I jury-rigged one out of a votive holder and some tin. Within a few days of being given water, the roots began to reach down and a tiny green shoot began to work its way out. This week, the flowers bloomed, and looking at them brings me peace. The plant is so fragile just floating there, but so pretty, too. (more…)

In October-coloured weather

29 Oct

Super 8 movies have always had a unique allure. They’re so beautifully slowed-down and sun-dappled, immediately delivering the blurred warmth that otherwise comes as time soften memories. My family never had a video camera, but we took pictures; the late-’70s light washes everything in tan, and I imagine that’s what it must have looked like back then. (more…)