Thursday, May 4, 2017

2017 Bavarian Journalist Union (BJV) Press Freedom Awards

On May 3rd, 2017, the Bavarian Journalist Union (Bayerische Journalisten-Verband, BJV) held their third International Press Freedom Day awards ceremony at the PresseClub Muenchen.  At the conclusion of the awards, a panel discussion was held with the theme "Facts versus Fake News: Can the War Against Lies and Hate Speech Still Be Won?"  For the second year in a row, Reporters Without Borders ranked Germany in 16th place on its press freedom index, after having fallen four places in 2016.  Cited is the abuse, physical and verbal, of press representatives.  Furthermore, threats have become a prominent issue and are often in connection with the far- and radical-right uprising.  The slide in the rankings displays that even countries like Germany are not immune to threats against press freedom.

Third-place winner, 2017 BJV Press Freedom Awards

The photo above was awarded third-place by the BJV jury during its third Press Freedom awards ceremony.  It displays renowned journalist Robert Andreasch while documenting a Pegida-Munich rally at the famed Odeonsplatz.  A Pegida follower, in plain sight of police and onlookers, suddenly turned to Andreasch and blocked his camera with a sign for an extended amount of time.  Despite the duty of police to guarantee press freedom in Germany, no action was taken.  Situations like these are unfortunately not isolated incidents and one of dozens since Pegida arrived in Munich at the end of 2014. Violent assaults are now commonplace.

For the general public, it is easy to ignore Pegida under the false impression that they are “concerned citizens” (“besorgte Buerger”), populists, or the more commonly heard “idiots”.  The reality is that Pegida-Munich’s head has been under federal monitoring since 2012 for “attempting to form a terrorist group”.  He also has a recent assault conviction, as well as another for citing Goebbels during a demonstration.  Over the course of more than two years, despite dwindling numbers, Pegida-Munich has an increased proportion of neo-nazis, militant neo-nazis, and convicted terrorists among them.  Last week, some eleven firearms-related raids took place at sites with connections to Pegida-Munich’s organizational structure.  This is yet another confirmation of the importance of our long-term documentation and the need for press freedom to be guaranteed in order to protect the public.

I would also like to thank the numerous people at the BJV who have been supportive of my work and career.

The overall winners were Ulrike Köppen, Tanja Pröbstl and Robert Schöffel who carried out a long-term documentation about the deteriorating conditions for journalists in Turkey.

Second place went to exiled Turkish journalist Cam Duendar who currently lives in Germany.

Duendar's work and life as a critical journalist has now become an international symbol of the oppression and the dangers for anyone with a critical eye in Turkey. As such, the importance of his work, and those like him, can not be overstated. Dundar was the editor of the newspaper Cumhuriyet, which reported on Turkey's MIT delivering weapons to Islamist fighters in Syria.

Link to the report (with German subtitles) by Cam Duendar and Katty Salié:

Also in third place is
Bartholomäus von Laffert for his work „Embedded – Mein erstes Mal“ about how political propaganda works in Turkey.

Podium panelists included:

Moderation of the discussion was carried out by Falk Zimmermann, Chief Marketing Officer WhatsBroadcast München.


Press Photo of the Year Award link

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bayerischer Journalisten-Verband (BJV) Press Photo Exhibition, Munich Airport

The Bayerischer Journalisten Verband's (Bavarian Journalist Union, BJV) Press Photos of the Year exhibition continues to run until May 1 in the Munich International Airport, Terminal 2, fourth floor, south check-in area (near Lufthansa). 

The BJV is the Bavarian arm of the Deutscher Journalisten-Verband (German Journalist Union, DJV) and is the administrator of the awards.  In addition to the winning photos for 2016, the top photos of 2016, as well as previous winners, are on display.  The BJV awards are jury-selected and designed to support and illustrate the importance of quality journalism and photojournalism in an era where editorial standards and payments are being lowered.

Press Photo of the Year entry here
Information about the winning and top photos of 2016 and past years here
Link to a letter sent to the BJV from a visitor from Britain here
Link to co-winner (series and 2015 overall winner) Florian Bachmeier here

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Press Photo of the Year

Shot at Karlsplatz (Stachus), Munich, on July 22, 2016.

On December 6th, 2016, the Bavarian Journalist Union, for the 17th time, awarded the top press photos of the year.  The above photo was selected as the "overall winner" and "Press Photo of the Year"

The awards are designed to highlight how photography, journalism, and photojournalism, despite worsening conditions, have a crucial place in open, free societies.  The BJV did not position the award winners as competitors, but rather as co-winners and colleagues who excelled in various categories.  The works of my fellow awardees were nothing short of astounding.

The BJV is the Bavarian arm of the German Journalist Union (DJV).  The organization offers mentoring programs and is heavily engaged in improving working conditions for journalists and photojournalists. The award ceremony took place at the Bavarian Parliament, with State-President Barbara Stamm (CSU) and Michael Busch (BJV) as the presentors.

Link to the article via Google Translate (English)


On this day, a disturbed, 18 year old killer lured youths, many of whom had non-German backgrounds, to near the Olympia Einkauszentrum (Olympia [Park] Shopping Mall).  Using a gun he purchased on the Darkweb, he began firing at people near the OEZ McDonalds, killing nine and injuring at least thirty-six more.  Documentation and testimonies revealed that he was under care for psychological illnesses and was also bullied in school.  The killer also had a deep fascination with mass shootings, as well as far-right ideologies and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

As word of the shooting spread through the city, so did rumors of a terrorist attack and multiple shooters.  Soon after the shooting, police, including counter-terrorism units and helicopters arrived at Karlsplatz.  The combination of their presence with machine guns, lack of proper information, and rumors put people on edge.  After approximately thirty minutes, panic broke out with several thousand people running away from Karlsplatz, abandoning meals, personal belongings, and even strollers.  Numerous people claimed, in tears, that there were gunshots and shooters in the pedestrian area (Fussgaengerzone) between Stachus and Marienplatz.  The police then sealed it as a counter-terrorism deployment area and brought masked commandos in.  At Marienplatz there were three young males that were detained by police.  It appears that they may have been victims of suspicion and paranoia of others, thus the police singling them out and vetting them at the Gloeckenspiel Cafe.  This marked the end of the counter-terrorism deployment in the Fussgaengerzone.  There were no gunshots in this area- only panic and rumors.

The photo displays police looking through Karlstor at the pedestrian zone which, during a normal summer day, would be extremely crowded and full of life.  The eerie calm and emptiness reflects how the entire city of Munich was brought to a standstill on this day- no public transit, roads around the city center paralyzed and blocked, and thousands of people walking away from the city center in all directions to somehow get home.

Ultimately, as police surrounded the killer at the OEZ, it became evident that this was a lone-gunman shooting and NOT a terrorist attack.  The killer then turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger, thus ending the siege.

It was, and continues to be, a difficult return to normalcy in Munich.


I began photographing some years ago in order to document my overseas travels for friends and family.  Photography not only allowed me to document what I saw, but also what I didn't see.  I became driven by documenting and presenting everything I saw exactly as I saw them.  This meant throwing out the many rules of photography and eschewing technical perfection, smooth textures and tones in order to instill an honesty to the documentation.  Furthermore, this also required dealing with the fact that I wouldn't be documenting the good side of everything, particularly if I wanted my work to benefit society in some way.

In the case of the Munich shooting, while not at the location where the actual shooting took place, I entered the secured counter-terrorism deployment area with the objective to document what I saw exactly as I saw it. This later proved important in reconstruction of the events of that day and to also stem the proliferation of of fake news and conspiracy theories.


From der Spiegel, with usage of another photo from my series:

Reconstruction by Sueddeutsche Zeitung, two photos from my series (five photos used in the Oct. 2nd paper special edition):

Frankfurter Rundschau, usage of one photo from my series:,29607566,34571046.html

Photos available for licensure from Zuma Press.  Usage with credit, but no license is still unauthorized.   The above photo is available for editorial usage in connection with the award.  Please contact the BJV for terms.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


No reproduction/reuse/reprinting/modification/sharing without explicit, written permission, and/or agency license agreement.  Usage with credit/attribution, but no agreement, is still unauthorized.

August 10, 2016, Brooklyn Bridge
After having traversed the 59th Street Bridge, then the George Washington Bridge, I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge as it began to rain heavily on the span.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

7th Avenue

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Saturday, August 27, 2016


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The Westfield Stores during opening week, at the World Trade Center site.  The original mall was closed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Friday, August 19, 2016


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Scene captured during a hot summer day, NYC, 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

Villa Charlotte Bronte, Bronx, NYC

No usage without explicit license agreement. Please share original link.  Usage with attribution/credit, but no agreement, is still unauthorized.

The famed Villa Charlotte Bronte, built in the early 1900s on the southern edge of Spuyten Duyvil, the Bronx, overlooking the transition between the Hudson and Harlem rivers.  The Villa continues to be a holdout against urban development, as evidenced by the more citylike apartment buildings to either side of it.

Along the way from the 1-line, one will often see stone homes that hark back to the mostly Dutch origins of the modern era of the region.  The people of the area are extraordinarily friendly and I had several conversations along the way with the friendly, welcoming residents.

More information:

New York Times here
History via Curbed New York here
Lehman Art College here

Friday, July 22, 2016

Munich Shooting Attack

Photos available for licensure from Zuma Press.  Usage with credit, but no license is still unauthorized. 

Edit: further details below, initial text will remain for the integrity of the documentation.

Details are still sparse and many unconfirmed reports. Thus far, after the shooting at the Olympia Einkaufzentrum (Olympia Shopping Center), a massive mobilization of police arrived at Stachus, in the middle of the city, then moving towards Marienplatz.  Three were detained at Marienplatz, but it's unknown if they were the suspects in question.  Numerous buildings were evaculated, numerous people were brought out of stores with their hands up and vetted before being released, and many more were required to stay within the stores behind locked doors until police allowed them to leave.  Restaurants showed signs of being vacated in such a hurry that personal belongings were left behind.

There are numerous reports at this time (7/23, 12:23am) of suspects still at large and other incidents.  At this time, Munich is in a state of emergency and many businesses are closed, mass transit is either completely stopped, or service is limited, and people are encouraged to stay at home and not go out on the roads.  Elite commando units (GSG9) are reported as on the way to Munich.

In the case of this police action, it appears that the police covered Stachus in the event that the suspects arrived there.  As the mobilization increased, so did the tension, which created a panic, where hundreds of people ran in all directions from Karlsplatz (also known as Stachus).  People reported gunshots, but there were none heard by myself, and this was reported to be the case by police- no gunshots.

Update:(2am, Berlin time): it was a lone shooter, a German national, who died at the OEZ (scene 1).  Panic and chaos spread through the city, which is displayed below.

As of 7/26:

It appears the situation at Stachus was created by panic and misinformation (some of it likely intentional and disseminated through social networking and via some from the far-right spectrum) of the events at the OEZ.  One issue was the assumption of multiple shooters.  Witnesses, including some I spoke to directly, said some plain clothes police officers at the OEZ area were completely unmarked (some wore vests, some wore "POLIZEI" bands around their arms) and carrying machine guns.  This fed back to the police, who then assumed there were multiple shooters and some may have taken the subway to Stachus.  Police then arrived at Stachus, relaying no information to the public, helicopters flew overhead, and then internet and voice communications went down.  This noticeably escalated the tension at Stachus.  After approximately 30-45 minutes in this state, people panicked, likely at the sight of police commandos, and thousands then fled from Stachus in a scene reminiscent of the 911 attacks.  However, there were no gunshots, no suspects.

The three detained at Marienplatz were likely detained due to panic, suspicion, and prejudice meeting together and via misinformation.

The misinformation persists in the form of conspiracy theories now and the police and media appear to be doing little to stem it, nor establishing an international arm so that the international media can get first-hand information in English, rather than multi-generational translations that are often wrong, biased, and from extremely questionable sources (including conspiracy and right-radical sites).

Edit 7/29: it has now been confirmed that police at the OEZ shooting site did, in fact, go through the streets with machine guns and rifles, but NO IDENTIFICATION, thus creating panic and the false reports of multiple shooters. This directly caused people to report back to police and over social networking, essentially making the police unknowingly search for themselves.  This also led to the dangerous panic at Stachus, where people likely saw the armed commandos searching for additional suspects that didn't exist and they fled.  Unfortunately, this has led to the conspiracy theories being projected around the world.  A case of bad policework is the simplest (and correct) explanation, but convoluted conspiracies prevail.  Despite the issues with police training under emergencies and poor emergency management, the police are asking for new equipment, despite the fact that they appeared disconcertingly amateurish and uncoordinated, at best.  They need to contact the NYPD for training in this area.

Suspects being led away.  Unconfirmed if they are the ones in question, or were just questioned and released.