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Marilyn Monroe now owned by Chinese Agency

Corbis sale TienanmenThere’s an interesting article in The New York Times this week. Corbis, the stock photography agency founded by Bill Gates, has been sold to Visual China Group.

Note from Phil: A stock picture library refers to a collection of photographs or illustrations from which companies, news agencies or individuals can purchase the right, or the license, to use an image in a book, newspaper, website, brochure, or other type of digital or printed publication.


Corbis is one of the largest, if not largest, repository of images in the world. What’s notable with this sale is that Visual China Group will now control some of the most notable and iconic images. For example, the photograph of Marilyn Monroe’s windblown dress, Dorothea Lange’s portrait of a Depression-era mother, and the Zeppelin Hindenberg exploding… all part of the Corbis collection, now are owned by the Chinese company.


The controversy surrounding the sale focuses on the news photographs of upheaval in China. Visual China will now own the famous ‘Tank Man in Tienanmen Square”. The photograph of the lone man standing at attention in the Square, blocking the forward motion of a line of military tanks. The Chinese government usually suppresses discussion of the Tienanmen uprising and it is unclear what will happen to photographs that illustrate this dark chapter of Chinese history.


Some observers of Chinese media censorship are worried. As reported by the New York Times, “Xiao Qiang, the founder of China Digital Times,  said the worry was legitimate. “It should not be treated as a surprise if a Chinese media company’s decisions and actions were aligned with the policies and practices of the Chinese government,” he said.  Visual China said in an emailed statement that it was “fully committed to being a good steward of the Corbis images and will continue to make the archives available globally.””

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

MishMish: Funny Name, Excellent Food!

I love Montclair, and not just because I’m president of the Business Improvement District. I’ve been here for over 25 years and with over 80 restaurants we are known as a dining town. When I have a fave, I like to get the word out.

MishMish is a Middle Eastern gem. I dare you to try the hummus…you’ll be hooked! The charred octopus appetizer is fantastic and the roast Amish chicken is comfort food at its best.

“MishMish, which means ‘apricot’ in Hebrew, is located on Glenridge Avenue. It’s a combination of traditional Moroccan Jewish food and French cuisine. “

The chef, Meny Vaknin, was a winning contestant on Food Network’s award-winning show Choppedand additionally scored a rave review in the New York TimesImpressive, no?

Through my commercial photography and videography subsidiary, Cantor Creative Media , I recently produced a promotional video for MishMish. Directed by my partner and son, Ethan Cantor, the one-minute video relates Meny’s story and his philosophy of food. It’s a window into what inspires and moves an artist like this young man.

…and on that note, who wants some shawarma tacos?!

Out of all the restaurants in Montclair or New Jersey, which is your favorite? Comment below!


Polaroid: The Original Instant Gratification


Reading the New York Times last week, I was reminded of the original form of instant gratification before LCD screens, Facebook and Instagram took hold: Polaroid, which went bankrupt in 2001. The article in the Times featured Elsa Dorfman, a Boston photographer who uses a gigantic camera that, no joke, “weighs as much as an N.F.L. linebacker” for portraits. It’s the largest Polaroid camera ever made. The Times reports:

“…for more than three decades, Ms. Dorfman has managed to make one of the world’s most unwieldy cameras, and one of the rarest — a 20-inch-by-24-inch Polaroid, one of only five originally made[…]into an instrument of such warmth, intimacy and latter-day bohemian spirit that her work has made her into a kind of folk hero in this tightly knit college town [Cambridge, MA].”

Dorfman is retiring because her supply of 20×24 film is almost finished. Her work made me reminisce about my relationship with Polaroid before high-tech took over the photography world. Prior to the invention of digital cameras, I used Polaroids to test the lights and exposure when I made portraits.

I had a Polaroid Model 180, which was a professional version of the street camera, with a Zeiss lens, f/stops and shutter speeds, a Polaroid back for my Hasselblad, one for my 4×5 Graflex and, for fun, a Model 600. Best of all, I had a custom-made Polaroid attachment, that used fiber optics to attach to my 35mm Canon. This set-up allowed me to use various Canon lenses and I could test the exact exposure, lighting and, most importantly, reflections, before I put the lens on a camera loaded with 35mm film.

Nowadays, for those of us still interested in picking up their old Polaroid camera and making ART, we are in luck!  A group of Polaroid employees, aficionados, and investors started The Impossible Project. They purchased the old Polaroid factory in the Netherlands in 2008, refurbished the machines, perfected the chemical formulas and are producing Polaroid film. If you’re lucky enough to still have your Polaroid 600 or SX-70, you can purchase 8 exposures of film for about $24, or $3 apiece! They even offer a method to instantly print photographs from your phone. For a closer look, take a look at The impossible Project’s engaging video below for a glimpse into their production process:

At the top of this page you can see wonderful Polaroid portraits of my son Ethan messing around when he was a kindergartner. Do you have any great memories of Polaroid cameras and instant picture-taking?  I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!

5 Photography New Years Resolutions
…Curmudgeon Style

Welcome to 2016!

A time of technological advances the likes we never knew possible…like self-lacing shoes and the smart fridge that opens when you approach (seriously).

However, with great power comes great responsibility. As photographers, from professional to smartphone-using amateurs, we all need to take a moment to ease up on some of those habits and compulsions brought on by the social media-obsessed world.

Here are 5 resolutions (from a curmudgeon and a photographer):

1. NO MORE THAN one selfie per day…for your health!

Honestly, there have been more selfie-related deaths this year than SHARK ATTACKS. C’mon, people.

If you insist, do the civilized thing and ask someone else to take your photograph. They’ll be happy to help!

2. No more incessant foodgramming…

…for your waiter’s sake. Unless it’s literally the BEST thing you have ever eaten in your whole entire life, everything you consume does not need to be documented.

3. Be present!

Put the camera phone down during events. Having a screen constantly in front of your face, digitalizing your view, makes you removed from your surroundings versus immersed. Instead of constantly shooting, take a moment to be a part of the whole!

4. No Instagramming while in nature

No matter how fascinating and unique that LEAF you saw was, your entire following could live without it.

5. Create a real-life, hold-in-your-hands photo album!

Why not print those lovely photographs and put them in an album! Nope, not a Facebook album, an actual Photo Album like they did in olden times. That way when company comes over, you’ll have a coffee table book worth oggling!

If you have a CURMUDGEONLY RESOLUTION you’d like to add, put it in the comments BELOW…I would love to hear it…