Our Top 5 Podcast Episodes of 2021

Our Top 5 Podcast Episodes of 2021

Like many of you, Sarah and I produced a full year of remotely recorded podcasts during the on-going pandemic. Whereas 2020 was dominated by discussions of COVID-related coverage and artists creating work in lockdown, availability of vaccines and the Winter’s reprieve allowed many photographers to get back to work in 2021.

In a sense, the discussions became more predictable, and a steady stream of ethical conundrums in photography became some of our most popular (and perhaps controversial) episodes of the year. 

So throw on a pair of headphones and take a long postprandial walk with Vision Slightly Blurred.

1. Street Photography’s Snakes on a Plane

An image of a young mother in a short dress on a New York City subway raised ethical questions and the ire of some commentators on Twitter. Some found the “award-winning” photo to be stunning, while others questioned the photographer’s methods – sitting across from the woman for 45 minutes while holding his camera on his lap.

Unlike the conversation around “newsworthy” images and the First Amendment, street photography often occupies a much creepier and ethically ambiguous space. But what exactly made this image so objectionable? Sarah and Allen discuss.

Also on the show: Emily Ratajkowski tries using the Fair Use defense in her copyright infringement suit, World Press Photo shifts to a regional model, and photographer/director Joshua Kissi says LinkedIn is the real social network for pros. 

2. Should Photographers Abandon Instagram Now That It’s Not a “Photo App”? 

In late June 2021, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri declared that the service was no longer a photo sharing app, and that the team was focused on “Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” While most of the world shrugged, some photographers expressed outrage at what seemed like a betrayal of the medium that put them on the map. In this episode, Sarah and Allen discuss the implications for photographers and whether Glass – a new, subscription-based photo sharing app – can fill the void.

Also: Ed Templeton photographers Jonah Hill for GQ, and Professor Michael Lesy goes nostalgic with found photos from the 1970s.

3. Did an Italian Student Plagiarize an Ethiopian Artist at the Milano Photo Festival?

The 2021 Milan Photo Festival catalog includes a group exhibition by students at the Istituto Italiano Fotografia on the topic of Dante’s Inferno. One of the students, Andrea Sacchetti, produced an image that is virtually identical to a well-known image by Ethiopian artist Aïda Muluneh without attribution.

After @AFWomeninPhoto tweeted about the plagiarism, Photo Twitter shook its collective head in dismay, and the Festival issued a statement that “there was no will to plagiarize against such a prestigious author.” Nevertheless, Sacchetti’s images remain in the exhibition. Muluneh subsequently issued a video response in which she stated, “Just because there’s been one post shared and a couple of messages sent, it’s not the end of the conversation.”

Also in the show: Nicola Dove captures Daniel Craig in his final outing as James Bond in “No Time to Die” and you can support the rebuilding of South Louisiana following the destruction of Hurricane Ida through PhotographsForLouisiana.com.

4. How Magnum Photos’ Jonas Bendiksen Nearly Fooled the Entire Industry

Magnum photographer Jonas Bendiksen was troubled by the potential for photographers to fabricate a story and photos from scratch using technology and social media to propagate a false narrative. He was so frightened that he “decided to try to do this myself.”

The Book of Veles was a conceptual exercise built from background plates photographed in Northern Macedonia and computer generated people. No one in the photojournalism industry seemed to notice, and Bendiksen was even offered an evening presentation at Visa Pour L’Image. But an eagle-eyed Benjamin Chesterton (@duckrabbitblog) spotted a social media avatar that matched one of the subjects in the book, and the intentionally deceptive tale unraveled.

In this episode, Sarah and Allen discuss the reaction to the project and the ethical lines that it crosses.

In addition: Paul Ratje’s misinterpreted images of Haitian migrants on the US/Mexico border, Instagram postponed the launch of Instagram Kids, and the New York Public Library keeps its image collection open for public browsing.

5. Trump Gives Nick Ut the National Medal of the Arts and the Backlash Ensues

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Nick Ut of “Napalm Girl” fame, received the National Medal of the Arts from President Trump. While many celebrated the achievement, a number of people expressed dismay over Ut’s decision to accept it from the twice impeached President. 

In this episode, Allen and Sarah discuss the controversy, and also tackle the copyright grab at Penn State’s Collegian, and Joe Biden’s official White House photographer, Adam Schultz.


You can find every episode of our podcast, Vision Slightly Blurred, on our podcast hub. If you’re on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you can also find us there, or on your favorite podcast provider. Go subscribe and leave us a rating and review! We would love to hear from you.

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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