The World’s Most Powerful Images

1963 — Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc sets himself ablaze in protest against the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. (Malcolm W. Browne)

World Press Photo, a non-profit organization dedicated to generating “public interest in and appreciation for the work of photographers,” has held a contest every year since 1955 to highlight the best images created by photojournalists that year. Think of a single image capturing any of the biggest (mostly horrific) events of the last 55+ years, and chances are that image won the World Press Photo contest. Chances also are that you know about that photo (at least in part) because of that contest.

The fine folks at Buzzfeed have published on one page every winning photo from 1955 to 2011. (Yes, the same folks who gave rise to the new Beyoncé meme . . . I’ll wait while you go check that out . . . go on, you know you want to . . .OK, now where were we . . .)

Scrolling through all these images in one place is a bit overwhelming. I found it interesting how the passage of time makes it easier to discount the horrific act being photographed, as if the past has a monopoly on evil. Scrolling past images of more recent events was a powerful reminder of how life (and death) marches on, and how grateful I am that there are very brave people who have chosen to document these things for all the world to see. And thanks to World Press Photo for making these images visible well beyond the news cycle in which they originally appeared.

Go check out the images now. If it’s too much, there will always be the Beyoncé photos to brighten your day.

It’s shocking how little of this image is Photoshopped!

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The Power of Brett Keisel’s Beard

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading MuchAdo that very little planning or thought was given to MuchAdo before its launch. In fact, other than a reluctant guest blogging stint on my cousin’s site in 2002, I never thought about blogging at all. As a result, the MuchAdo adventure has come with a number of very pleasant surprises. For example, who know that the fine folks at WordPress provide their bloggers with a number of analytical tools. Now, were MuchAdo a site with advertising revenue, aspirations of advertising revenue, or anything resembling an organized attempt to do something more lofty than simply exist, those analytical tools would probably be pretty darned handy. In the case of MuchAdo, however, they are less a tool than a source of constant entertainment.

One of those tools shows the search terms people use to end up at MuchAdo. What have I learned from that tool? Well, for one, Brett Keisel’s beard should have its own agent. Keisel, as you may know from a previous post, is a defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers known for having a beard that looks, at times, as if the bewhiskered Keisel is carrying Troy Polamalu in a Baby Bjorn. What you may not have known is that there are a lot of people with what I can only assume is a very unusual interest in Brett Keisel’s beard. (Or possibly a small number of people with an extremely unhealthy interest in Mr. Keisel’s beard.) At least 59 clicks through to MuchAdo have been as a result of searches related to Mr. Keisel and his beard. FIFTY-NINE! And the number may be as high as 73. (Do I count “steelers beard” or my favorite, “older beard man”?) Now were this Google or The Drudge Report or Beards.org (yeah, that exists), that might not be significant. But given the relative anonymity of MuchAdo, 59 is a large number.

Behold, The Beard!!

Especially when you consider the work those 59 searchers had to do to get to MuchAdo. Let’s look at the most popular search term landing folks (or, again, one really weird dude in Oil City, PA) here: “brett keisel.” Any idea how many pages into that Google search you have to go before you find MuchAdo? Me neither. This is my site, and I’m not even interested enough to figure that out. I made it eight pages in before I was distracted by something more interesting (which is to say, just about everything). The results are decidedly more favorable on Bing, where MuchAdo shows up by Page 6. But here is my question to the readers of MuchAdo. “When was the last time you looked at six or more pages of search results?” I’m guessing your answer is a resounding, “Ummmm . . . never!” In fact, the most recent edition of The Big Book of Internet Statistics sites the following statistic:

The average internet searcher reviews no more than three pages of search terms. One notable exception occurred during the six day period between the introduction of The Internet and the day on which pornography became widely available for free. During that six day period thousands of technology savvy thirteen year old boys would routinely review dozens of pages of search terms. Since that period, it is virtually unheard of for anyone to review more than four pages of search terms.

I have no doubt you read that and think, “There was a six day period of the internet without free porn?” This is why the research staff at MuchAdo takes the time to consult exceptionally scholarly, very credible and highly fictional resources like The Big Book of Internet Statistics. But seriously, how is it possible that people (or that sketchy dude) landed here 38 different times whilst knee deep in a search for information about a hirsute defensive end?

I’m afraid this is where the research staff has come up a bit short. We are left only with a series of questions and very few answers. Questions like, “Why are people so interested in Brett Keisel’s beard?” “Why are we all using Google when Bing is so clearly superior?” And “Why, for the love of God, would a search for ‘older beard man’ land someone on MuchAdo?” And though we do not have the answer to any of these questions, I think we can all agree on one thing: that we will never, ever do a search for the term “older beard man.”

So, in the name of research, I ask that anyone who has landed here because they were searching for information about Brett Keisel, Brett Keisel’s beard or something having to do with older beard man, please do us all a favor and leave a comment with the following information:

  1. What search term you used to get here;
  2. Why you were searching that term;
  3. What search engine you used;
  4. What page of the search results you were on when the link to MuchAdo appeared;
  5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how disappointed you were to end up on MuchAdo, with 1 being “Man, this is the best Brett Keisel/beard site on the internet” and 10 being “Dude, where are all the naked pictures of Brett Keisel/dudes with beards!?!” and
  6. What is Oil City, PA like?

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Please Won’t You Help?!?

On this, a day of new beginnings and hope, I am reaching out to the readers of MuchAdo to appeal to your charitable spirit.  Our lives are busy.  It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, and we often forget to take a moment to consider those in need.  Today, I would like to ask you to consider contributing to a worthy cause that has all but escaped the attention of the mainstream media.

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen that SPCA commercial with Sara McLachlan where the one-eyed dog is eaten by some heartless dog-eating Republican (at least I think that’s what happens, but I don’t actually watch that commercial because it’s really, really a bummer).  Well, this is, believe it or not, a much more worthy cause.  No, it’s not starving children.  No, not disaster relief.  NOT UNICEF!  Stop guessing!  I started this post off by saying it “has all but escaped the attention of the mainstream media.”  Why would you think you could just guess.  As I was saying, this one is a doozy.  A real heart stomper.

[Note: this would be a good time to click on that link for the SPCA commercial, and let it play in another window while you read the next bit.  I would embed a stirring song here, but (a) I don’t really know how and (b) I’m pretty sure that would violate some sort of copyright, and who needs that mess.  (Whatever you do, do not watch that commercial, it will totally ruin your day.)]

It turns out, in a country that has everything (well, at least 1% of this country has everything, supposedly the other 99% have nothing but time and hacky sacks, but I must admit I didn’t follow the Occupy [Insert Name of Someplace Here] movement all that closely), there are photographers who lack access to the most basic, high-end technology.  What could be more disheartening than the thought of a photographer without the proper equipment?  I am certain there is a photographer in your life that is struggling to make images with substandard equipment.  I know in my heart that this is true.  Oh sure, he (I strongly suspect the photographer in your life is male) may actually have  an SLR.  And to the outside world, it may seem that his images are perfectly adequate.  But he knows that he is greatly in need of a new camera.  And that knowledge alone is too much for any photographer to bear.

So, what exactly is it that this photographer needs?  What he needs is the Canon 5D Mark III.  (Again, I am positive the needy photographer in your life is a man, and I am positive he is not shooting with Nikon.)  What’s that you say?  You are not familiar with the Canon 5D Mark III?  Well then, my friend, you are not a Canon enthusiast, for there are entire web pages devoted to the Canon 5D Mark III.   Why, the fine folks at Canon Rumors have a whole page with dozens and dozens of posts devoted to this camera.  Same for Keith Cooper over at Northlight Images.

Now, here’s where things get a little dodgy.  Sadly, the Canon 5D Mark III does not exactly, in a literal, non-fictional sort of way, exist.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it very much exists in the way that my four-year-old daughter’s stuffed bunny has been to college, lived in Mexico, Japan, various parts of Europe, California, and Chicago, has run a variety of successful businesses, and has magical powers, despite having been purchased by friends on what I have learned is a very ordinary, non-magical website shortly before my daughter’s birth.  That is to say that the Canon 5D Mark III exists in the minds of all those Canon enthusiasts I mentioned, but not in a physical, mass production sort of way.  And I . . . er, I mean . . . the poor, hard-working, saintly, deprived photographer in your life really, really wants the Canon 5D Mark III to exist — in a, “Hey, I think I’ll head over to my favorite photography shop/website and pick one up” kind of way, not a “Did I tell you about the time Bunny went to China on a flying dragon and ate won ton soup out of the holy grail” kind of way.

I know what you’re thinking. “But, what can I do?”  Let’s be clear, I don’t have all the answers.  I have identified the problem, now I am looking to you for help.  I, for one, plan to continue reading all of the rumor websites so I will know the second the Canon 5D Mark III is just days away from being announced (which, at last count, has happened 468 times in the last twelve months alone).  However, maybe you are close personal friends with Chuck Westfall (not to be confused with this guy) or someone else from the imaging group at Canon U.S.A. If so, for God’s sake, stop reading this right now and implore that person to release the Canon 5D Mark III (or better yet, get me . . . um, I mean your, oh, whatever . . . a test device — I’ll sign an NDA).   In the meantime, please start saving your pennies (by which I mean twenties or hundreds), because I am fairly certain that MuchAdo will be launching a Needy Photographer Fundraiser once this camera is released.  We are really going to need your help.

More Important Contributions from the World Wide Web!

A little part of you has always wondered what an epic rap battle between Dr. Seuss and William Shakespeare would look like, right? No? Just me? Doesn’t matter. Check it out anyway. Then see what happens when TV hawker, Billy Mays and Ben Franklin throw down. Thank you, Internet.