The Daily Edit – Thursday
7.21.11

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Men’s Journal

Creative Director: Benjamen Purvis

Director of Photography: Michelle Wolfe

Photographer: Nathaniel Welch

Heidi Volpe

There Are 19 Comments On This Article.

  1. Based on the design elements alone, I like this. But, considering the controversy caused by this image and interview, it leads to a question; does consideration of sending a controversial and some would say, negative message, play a role in design and image ideas?

    Again, from a design perspective, I really like it. But, given the recent violence to and by athletes, particularly NFL players over the past few years, I’m not fond of seeing a player with guns.

    my 2 cents…

  2. Yeah the photography is solid but the use of the guns is disturbing. I would like to know why the creative director thought the guns were a good idea to convey his message, and what is that message exactly. The guns take this to a level of violence far beyond the hitting on the field and indifference to the NFL commissioner. Firearms and pro athletes isn’t a good combination.

  3. A black man with guns is a super cliche image, mildly racist as well. But the fact that those are HIS OWN guns is interesting, adds to the story, in that he really is a violent guy. In the end, I still feel like they could have been more creative with this concept, and not just go for a status quo cliche.

      • I’m not sure if I would use the word, ‘racist,’ but there are some racial elements to consider. Personally, as a black man, who has covered a lot of crime and shot a lot of images of black men lying dead in the street, I don’t like this image. I’m sure it wasn’t the intent, but this image supports a racial stereotype of a thuggish, ‘gangsta’ black man.

        As an educated black man who has never had handcuffs on my wrists and has only seen the inside of a jail when doing a story, that’s not the image I want to see looking back at me. Again, as an image alone, it’s not a big deal. But this is an editorial piece about a real person. I think that there are social elements to consider when brainstorming ideas about how to present him to the public. I would ask myself, ‘considering the level of violence that occurs among minorities in inner cities, do I really want to present an image that ‘might’ be indicative of those who cause that violence?’ My answer would be, no.

        • I respect your opinion and rationale and while we can’t know the intent behind the image creators (and subjects) decisions, I can respect the “greater good” of not running images like this, although personally I have no problem with it.

          Thanks for your feed back!

  4. So the subject had NO say in the image, the concept and the outcome?

    Really?

    And to what would one attribute that interesting situation?

    Wow… we are all wimps now. Afraid of an image. Unsure of why, but mildly convinced that the black man was not capable of voicing an opinion.

    I think he is quite competent to make the decision to appear with his guns.

    Great shot, and well art directed.

    • Darrent Williams, Denver Broncos – Killed when his limousine was sprayed with bullets after a party.

      Sean Taylor, Washington Redskins – Murdered in his home during a robbery.

      Plaxico Burress, NY Giants – Serves 20 months in prison for carrying a loaded weapon to a night club and accidentally shooting himself.

      These are just a few of the NFL players, not to mention, everyday citizens who have been effected by gun violence in the past 3 years. So, uh, you don’t think that maybe, just maybe, having a player, who just happens to have very strong animosity against the Commissioner, pose with guns, might not be the best idea?

      THINK.

    • Also,

      We’re not talking about a man having the right to portray himself holding guns. We’re talking about the responsibility of an editorial publication in how it presents messages to its audience.

  5. Those were James’ own guns…I was lucky enough to read the story on the way to the shoot, so I knew the story was gonna be controversial based on James’ quotes, and frankly thats just James’ style to be a bit of a lightning rod for controversy…i wanted to put the exclamation point on the story, and knew the guns would help…As a photographer, i tell people its my job to get readers STOP on a page to read the first two sentences of a story, or the logo of the ad, i cant make them read the whole thing, but I want them to stop for a minute at least…..I knew the guns would help do that, and i knew they were a good metaphor for the story…i agree that imagery of black men with guns can be a bit of a cliche, and i’ve shot plenty of rappers and never shot one with a gun for that reason, just silly…..He’s a hunter, and so am I, so I’m comfortable around guns, as is he, so it wasnt a stretch for him to hold them as they were already there and he was proud of them and we spent some time looking at his collection…anyway, glad people like it, james does too believe it or not…for more on this shoot and others http://nathanielphoto.blogspot.com/

  6. I believe that people can view images in a magazine without taking any kind of violent action. I think that the image is kind of playing off the headline, and while a bit cliched, I just don’t get the anger.

    I understand that some violence has been part and parcel of the football legacy, probably a spin off of paying thugs millions to be – well – thugs.

    But fearing that people will become violent and enraged and go ‘cap some dude’ because of a shot in a magazine? Really?

    I THINK your over-reaction is somewhat interesting. There are a few thousand other players who do not carry guns and shoot themselves. And (to your point) the ‘game’ does not fire and ban the idiots with the guns, so they have no incentive NOT to ‘pack a piece’. So is the worry that someone may see this and go and shoot someone?

    Really?

    OK. We’ll disagree.

    But I am having a hard time seeing this image as an endorsement of violence, but rather a tongue in cheek shot in a sports magazine. Would his ethnicity be some sort of problem, or his job, or would an army ranger in the same pose be as offensive? Or a cop?

    Would you also hold the art director, photo editor, writer, publisher, advertisers and printers liable for this offense?

    Why is it always the photographer?

    • Angry? Really?

      That’s really funny. There is absolutely nothing in my tone that indicates anger. All I’m saying is, I don’t think it was a good idea. It really doesn’t matter since it’s already been published and anyone who might have been offended has already moved on to the next crusade.

      But, I’ll just end with this. If this story had been about Harrison’s love of hunting, cool, I can understand that. But, when was the last time you saw somebody hunting shirtless with two handguns?

      There are a lot of pro athletes who own firearms. They feel it necessary to protect themselves and I can understand that. So, if this were a story about NFL players who feel the need to have guns for protection, cool, let’s shoot a player with his guns. I’m not opposed to guns. I’ve been around guns all my life. I’ve fired all types of handguns.

      It’s all a matter of context.

    • Don, this may be one of those lines that some people aren’t comfortable crossing or seeing others cross. In the context of portraying an NFL player that has been held to a double standard by the NFL commissioner – as in don’t be too violent but we’ll use you as a poster boy for our tough game – why were hand guns chosen? I do appreciate Nathaniel’s input on this from the photographers perspective. I still think the image could have been compelling enough without the hand guns.

  7. john mcd.

    Maybe not the wisest or most popular idea, but well-executed by Nathaniel nonetheless. It was obviously a collaboration between photographer and subject. It reminds me, vaguely, of that iconic old poster of the late Huey Newton.

  8. Great design elements, which could have turn very cliché if they would have matched the weapons. Overall cudos

    Now on to the cynicism, boo what you want to throw a picture up of T.O. (Timothy Oliphant) instead, that would be cliché.

  9. scott Rex Ely

    Ernie Holmes was the baddest beyond of any of the Steelers. He tried to shoot down a police helicopter with a shot gun.