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JF Leroy, ‘I am listening’

Some of you will have been following the debate about why JF Leroy (Director of the Visa Pour L’Image Festival) has gone to such lengths to give the Haitian photographer Daniel Morel a kicking for uploading 15 of his pictures to Twitpic on the night of the Haitian earthquake.

I recommend that you read the posts in order.

Two days ago I put these questions to Mr Leroy:

  1. Isn’t it true that Visa has a business relationship with Getty, one of the companies who distributed Morel’s photographs and then refused to compensate him?
  2. Do you yourself derive benefit from that relationship?
  3. Given that Getty are one of the key sponsors of Visa is it possible that some of the money Getty received from the sale of Morel’s photographs could benefit Visa

This is the response (printed in full)


I’m not a fan of slanderous implications. And I will not answer them, other than say that I haven’t personally profited from the infringement, through Getty (AFP is not a sponsor) or otherwise, in any substantial way that I can think of. My income is none of your business, and the funding of my festival is none of your business. But the independence of my festival is mine. It also happens that at the time of my comment to the BJP, I didn’t know that Getty was involved, because I was two months out of getting 27 shows (3 of which by Getty photographers) and over 100 projections (7 by Getty photographers) ready to welcome almost 3000 accredited attendees, something that leaves no time for browsing around looking for the last scandal. Knowledge of Getty’s involvement would not, and has not, changed my opinion of the matter. If you’re unconvinced, there’s a 22-year record of independence and advocacy for photographer’s rights to prove you wrong.A part of the “facts” that was used to attack me also slandered all of the photographers that were shown at Visa this year, by implying that their work was shown not because it was good, but because I was bribed to show it. I am not anyone’s whore, and neither are they. Anyone who came to Visa this year, or has the intellectual honesty of fact-checking what they publish would have seen a very simple thing : out of 27 shows this year, 3 were by Getty photographers. Out of the more than a hundred projections, 7 were by Getty photographers. It is elementary to realize that this is a consequence of Getty’s position in the industry, both in terms of volume of production and quality of this production, and not the result of a conspiracy.

If people have concrete ideas as to how to make anything at Visa or around Visa better, more engaging, more relevant, or more interesting, they should get in touch with us. Think the work we show is bad ? Send us your own, better work. Think Visa is irrelevant ? Come and make it relevant. Think Visa sucks ? Come and make it good. We don’t care who distributes your images, and we won’t show your work because it was published in a prestigious magazine, even if that magazine is our sponsor. We won’t show it because it wasn’t published in a prestigious magazine, either. We will show it because we think it is good, and that others will, too.

It’s that simple. We’re a small team, and we have limited ressources. But we’re listening. And we also have next year’s festival to prepare, so I’m sure you’ll all understand if I have better things to do than respond to often anonymous, slanderous, and unsubstantiated accusations in the meantime.

In his response below JF Leroy does not deny that he may (inadvertently) profited from ‘the infringement’, but what he does say vehemently is that he didn’t profit in any ‘substantial‘ way.

Mr Leroy complains that duckrabbit has ‘slandered‘ both himself and the photographers who appeared at the festival.  Of course technically it’s not possible to ‘slander’ Mr Leroy because slander is spoken, not written, but I think we can all get his point.   You can be the judge of whether this debate was worth having and whether, given the evidence and opinion presented both by duckrabbit and Mr Leroy, our response to the attack on Morel was justified.

Journalism is dependent on asking questions.  It was not duckrabbit but William Klein who suggested  that  Visa resembles ‘a festival of shanty towns without context.’

I would not be the only one who believes that often what is missing from photojournalism is the ‘journalism’ part. The industry is unsurprisingly fixated with awards and festivals that celebrate aesthetic and style over all else.  In the end the result is sadly that more often than not it is the  ‘poor black’ people featured in many of the photographs that are ‘slandered

The photographer Stuart Freedman recently nailed this idea in a blog post:

‘I see so many photographers making work that purports to show an explanation of a subject but actually is little more than graphic cliche of a situation. That, at a time of crisis for visual journalism, isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to simply point a camera at someone and say ‘how terrible’. It says much that everybody has a camera and thinks that they have a right to call themselves a journalist by photographing the nearest horror without context or understanding. We earn a dubious and tenuous ‘right’ to report the world to itself by entering into a dialogue with it: an impossible covenant with a subject that tries not to perpetuate stereotype, easy answers or sloppy conclusions. It isn’t enough to go and photograph beggars on the streets of India for example to further our own purposes under the cover of journalism. We had better have a damn good reason to invade people’s spaces and lives.’

I can think of no other industry where racial stereotyping is so celebrated, and no other festival more than Visa that has a reputation for celebrating those stereotypes whilst people sit round in squares, drinking red wine and drowning in images of poverty set to music you wouldn’t even put your enemy on hold to. Of course that in itself is a trite stereotype of the festival, taken from a prejudiced position.   It’s just a point of view and there is much great photography out there that struggles with the complexity of the world, Stuart Freedman’s work being a case in point (which has been exhibited at Visa, along with a lot of great work).

I would like to thank Mr Leroy for taking the time to reply. No doubt he has been a greater supporter of photography over the years. No-one but himself can take away from that.

He says that he is listening, which is great.  I’m not sure how he can demonstrate that since Visa is yet to embrace the web and really enter into an open conversation with audiences about the festival. We will start one here. I will put up a post and invite you to put your comments for Mr Leroy to read (and hopefully respond to). The only rule will be that those comments are constructive. Then we can see if Mr Leroy is sincere.


duckrabbit is a production company formed by radio producer/journalist Benjamin Chesterton and photographer David White.We specialize in digital storytelling.

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  • My2cents

    Well at least you’re admitting that your position is prejudiced! It seems like you have taken this on as your own personal battle/vendetta, and are intent belittling the festival as well as the work being produced by the many great photojournalists of the world (young and old), a lot of which is shown at the festival. Showing work at a festival like this helps these photographers to raise their level of exposure with the paying/recruiting industry audience, enables them to see what their peers have been producing, etc, and the sense of fraternity/camoraderie (not competetiveness) between all attending is apparent… but apparently it’s a sin that this takes place in a southern French town at the end of summer, and that we enjoy the food, wine and setting whilst there.
    Whilst i have attended a talk you gave, i do not recall your background. However it seems like you are someone very opinionated on the rights & wrongs of the photojournalism world, when it is not your field of expertise. William Klein on the other hand is very much better placed to voice his opinions on the matter… but you are singling out one particular side of the argument, and not presenting a well balanced debate with counter opinion. Why not ask some of the young generation whose talent is shining brightly what their opinion of the state photojournalism is?
    And after the build up of talk of Jean-Francois Leroy’s response, you seem to have attempted to dismantle it synically before you have even given us a chance to read it. Why not publish his response first, then make your comments, instead of influencing your readers before they have read his response?
    There will be a lot of people who think you’re fighting the right battle (photographers’ rights, i strongly agree with you on that), but i strongly feel you have discredited yourself in the manner in which you have gone about this witchhunt.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      ‘Whilst i have attended a talk you gave, i do not recall your background. However it seems like you are someone very opinionated on the rights & wrongs of the photojournalism world, when it is not your field of expertise. William Klein on the other hand is very much better placed to voice his opinions on the matter…’

      Does my background really matter? I think it’s that kind of elitist attitude that has prevented so many photographers from developing countries the opportunity to develop their talents. How dare they.

      p.s. In the original post I gave JF the last word. I’ve taken account of your criticism and put his quote up the top. I think that people are more than capable of making their own minds up.

      • My2cents

        On the contrary, i think your background does matter. You have launched a pretty scathing series of attacks on the festival, its organizer, AFP, Getty, and even photojournalism in general. I think if you were someone who worked in that field on a daily basis, your opinion would probably not be this way, and would likely take into account the many merits of the things/people/organizations that you have chosen to attack. Jean-Francois and his festival is, after all, about supporting photojournalism. That includes supporting many photographers from developing countries, and indeed he has a strong track record in doing so, with exhibitions, awards, and other forms of support which have helped them be known by a broader industry audience, who in turn can take their stories to the public. Likewise AFP (with one of the widest network of photographers around the world, especially developing countries), and Getty. It just so happens that the field is extremely competetive, and even overstocked with photographers (given the limited opportunities for the work to be published/sold enough to support this career), so any organizations (mags/agencies/festivals) do tend to focus on the photographers producing the strongest work, which tend to be those who have had access to equipment, training, funding, travel, clients, etc that all enable them to develop the strongest work… and this has meant that it has tipped in favour of photographers from the developed world, but don;t forget that many of them have taken it upon themselves to launch workshops etc in developing countries, to give something back to the local people, and fixers, photographers etc that they have worked with while there, and have developed a close bond with.

        • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

          I think its a real shame that you need to see someone’s CV before you can judge the merits of their opinion (which to contradict yourself you have done anyway).

          I confess I can’t take a picture to save my life.

          But what strikes me as a bit odd, for someone from the photographic community, that you seem oblivious to the fact that many photographers feel the same way about this stuff as me? As if photojournalism is beyond criticism? As if one act of charity negates another which demeans?

          And by the way I’m a window cleaner from Telford.

          • My2cents

            Photojournalism is definitely not beyond criticism. Indeed, many changes are needed so that important stories can still be told and reach the public. I am just saying your argument seems to very critical/negative, and in my experience does not display a real understanding of what you are discussing here. Let’s just agree to disagree, it’s not my site after all, you can say what you wish, but i want to stand up for the other side of the argument as i have found so much to disagree with in your comments and tone.

      • http://samdamico.com Sam D’Amico

        “Does my background really matter? I think it’s that kind of elitist attitude that has prevented so many photographers from developing countries the opportunity to develop their talents. How dare they.”

        I recently taught a student who was submitting her work to newspapers in Europe (France in particular I think).

        What she experienced is indicative of the elitist attitude that exists.

        Her work would be used by publications that would question her credentials.
        They would use her work but not pay her because she did not have the right credentials, (whatever those credentials are).

        Apparently
        1. Her work is not good enough because she does not have the right CV.
        2. But her work is good enough to be used.
        3. But since she doesn’t have the right credentials her work is not good enough to be paid for.
        4. She should be happy and honored to have her work appear in their rag at her expense.

        What a bunch of f’n hypocrites!

        In my opinion if the work is good enough to be used it’s good enough to be paid for, regardless of your credentials.

  • My2cents

    And regarding this bit: “I would not be the only one who believes that often what is missing from photojournalism is the ‘journalism’ part. The industry is unsurprisingly fixated with awards and festivals that celebrate aesthetic and style over all else. In the end the result is sadly that more often than not it is the ’poor black’ people featured in many of the photographs that are ‘slandered‘.”

    Maybe try speaking to the photojournalists who are travel the world for very little financial recompense, and for non-egotistical reasons, and ask them what drives them on… illustrating the plight of humanity and the injustices that people suffer on a daily basis, in an effort to raise awareness and effect change… or do they do it to get awards and celebrate the aesthetic of their imagery. You’re very, very ingorant if you think it’s the latter!

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      ‘Maybe try speaking to the photojournalists who are travel the world for very little financial recompense, and for non-egotistical reasons, and ask them what drives them on… illustrating the plight of humanity and the injustices that people suffer on a daily basis, in an effort to raise awareness and effect change… or do they do it to get awards and celebrate the aesthetic of their imagery. You’re very, very ingorant if you think it’s the latter!’

      Really? Have you ever spoken to the people in some of the pictures? Have you done that in Africa and spoken with them about some of the ways they are represented?

      By the way is Stuart Freedman a credible voice?

      • My2cents

        I can tell you the photographers have spoken to the people in their pictures, they don’t just show up and start shooting. And the most common feedback i have heard from photographers in this regard is that people suffering/struggling around the world, who seemingly have very little power to change their situation, do desperately want their story told, so not only encourage the photographers to help them show the world what is happening, but in some cases when the photographer might feel it inapropriate to take a photo, the subjects ask them to raise their camera again.

        • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

          Of course they want their story told. None of the arguments are about that, but the way those stories are presented.

          • My2cents

            Bear in mind then that the driving force behind this, somewhat regrettably, are the people who then buy the features/photos. The photojournalists that i know do not put their own personal views on display with their work, they react to what they see in front of them, and document that. They are constantly coming back from trips talking about how what they witnessed was very different from their preconceptions, which they had due to the background research they had done. But the way in which the work then often reaches the public, via the media, is the bit where the photographers lose some of their control, and indeed if they are to be funded to do continue their line of work, they have to also take into account what their media employers want from them. Many photographers will take on a lot of personal projects, to that they can really tell the stories that they encounter, without outside direction/influence, but if the resulting work does not appeal to media, it will only have a limited audience at the end of the day. I think photojournalists do a great job, on the whole, of representing the subjects that they are photographing, but that is only half the process. They are very aware of this and have to tread the fine line of documenting what they feel is important to the world, but doing so in a way which will not alienate the people that can bring it to as broad an audience as possible.

          • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

            2cents … you make excellent points. The selection of photography is a big issue. I also think a lot of photo editors are detached from audiences.

            Thank you for presenting and arguing a different side to the debate.

        • iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher

          My2cents. I dont get this cycler you speak about. Photojournalists speak to people who suffer. Get motivated to shoot. Assure victims that something is going to be done. Shoot passionately and then go to the media. Get their story mashed up in the editorial process so the public to not see the “real story”? Photojournalism gets a bad rap unfairly?

          Are you saying Photojournalists need more control? Look at the recent decline of big French brand who take more editorial control (Disclaimer: I love their work though!)
          Are you saying Photojournalists need better platforms? Look at we-are-the-best-photojournalists-in-the-world-so-lets-show-the-world-through-photojournalists-eyes-because-we-are-important magazine… it is about the stories or about the photographers who are selling their services by telling their stories first hand.
          Are you saying it is the media’s fault? They have an interest in anything that is appealing to the public. They are money making machines at the end of the day. Give them a product they can work with. Not something that ends up with a request for $20 a month at the end of a piece of “journalism”.
          Is it the agencies that are over stocked? Google the strap line “Independent agency specialising in the third world, development and immigration. Has picture features on Sierra Leone amputees, and Bangladeshi prostitutes.” and tell me if anybody will want to go “Yes, that looks like a place I want to go in order to see stories of the world for sale with a shopping cart”.

          You do not speak of Photojournalism. You speak only of Photography of Humans in Crisis from a White Mainly Male Neo-Colonial Aid based solutions mentality at worst. A more sympathetic view and actually my own is that Photojournalism has been hijacked by the Photography of the “suffering/struggling”.

          Is that journalism? I do not think so.

          What are the big ideas, the big issues, the big problems, the reasons or the solutions? Tell me who is shooting a solution?

          Look at this:-
          http://open-i.ning.com/video/third-frame-conference-jessica
          Starts off with a few things about working as an image maker and telling the audience the importance of working to tell the message of the charity. I love the images actually. Beautifully done and sensitive, perhaps because she is a woman – hooray! But to what ends? An exhibition? People “talking about it”, used in “advocacy” through a travelling exhibition? You get to the end and what is discussed reveals why this was really done, for the imagery and the photo’s. What is the story though? Who looks at the stories through the images themselves and gets to know the work of the NGO? What is the real social function of what you are doing?

          Ever since the Geldof 80′s Africans are suffering movement, the aid agencies have supported the photographers who call themselves Photojournalists but if you don’t get paid and undertake personal projects, then what are you? A professional or an activist with a camera? What is the maximum economic potential of an interesting activist searching for the artistic abstract spaces of a photographic frame? You have pretty much got there now by the culture of exclusion.

          Read this review of work done in China:-
          http://www.foto8.com/new/online/reviews/1276-china-between

          What does it tell me about China? (Sorry HOST/foto8, You do loads of great work yet you do call yourself a “Magazine looks beneath the surface and shines a spotlight on the issues that shape our world.” and in the main you do as I hugely respect them and urge people to go to their shows – but then this stuff gets through I do not understand…)

          Mr Morel was called “an activist” in a horrid context by Mr Leroy but photojournalists are the new activists. They shoot what they “they feel is important to the world” and they should be shooting what they think is important to the world and for others. Mr Leroy exposes the intellectual problem of believing in the cult of the individual ego.

          Where are the solutions? Where do you mention engaging the audience? Why should the public buy into such a miserably simplistic view of the world? Is it their fault?

          For every chinese migrant worker there is a motivation to go where the jobs are that is provided by capitalism. For every child working in Bangladesh that may work producing clothes to sell for almost nothing in the west, there is an economic reason for the pursuit of betterment because something has failed them elsewhere – it is their best choice in rubbish circumstances maybe so lets not sensationalise? For every environmental issue surrounding the extractive industries, there is a developmental issue too. For every critique of market capitalism, there is the lack of an alternative that has worked better for improving the conditions of mankind – education, infant mortality, disease, liberty, etc, etc. The thing is, it is a complex world yet all I see is emotional simplicity being called a story.

          I agree with duckrabbit. The problem is that there is very little photojournalism today.

          All there seems to be is photography from activists with cameras who work for agencies selling for profit to other working activists commissioning images for a commercial fundraising reason. Are they too scared to show a solution just in case it does not make the public donate as much because they think it harms donations to show something is being done already? That and spot news in crisis zones from Getty, AFP etc, etc. that has a legitimate social and journalistic function.

          You mistake a critical overview of the structures that have produced a dependancy culture in the industry for a personal attack on the intentions of the image maker. No, the world needs activists in charities to work with activists holding camera’s but make no mistake, it is not journalism. You are shooting to a commercial brief of an NGO. Oh, and the spot news – crisis paparazzi photography.

          The rest gets put in the documentary bucket and consigned to Arles because it apparently does not do enough to change the world?

          Questions.

          Do all these agencies selling the services of their photographers take public funds raised by hard working fundraisers in NGO’s before they demonstrate the economic (as opposed to artistic) value of their work – how much do they earn off the NGO’s?
          Do agencies selling images of “the third world… Sierra Leone amputees, and Bangladeshi prostitutes” and the such like (I do not want to make this a personal attack – apologies to all as this is why I do not want to do) charge charities for selling their images on a per image basis? Where do they go to… to make the annual report look better for agency profit?

          Does any of this breed trust i the medium?

          The view that it is good to have a trade fair to do cordial business and meet like minded individuals I can agree with. Keep it in Perpignan, keep it private because that is inward. Then have a public festival in Paris if it needs to be in France as that needs to be outward and affect as many people as possible. In fact, see if it drops in multicultural, racially tolerant London. Now that is a real test!

          “Whilst i have attended a talk you gave, i do not recall your background. However it seems like you are someone very opinionated on the rights & wrongs of the photojournalism world, when it is not your field of expertise. ”

          I am a complete outsider. I have no friends in the industry and after encountering racism, elitism and witnessing sexism.. went back to office work as I felt I had more potential to do more good there. I am part of the audience who is outside of the industry with a Masters degree in the subject to distinction level yet I admit I am worth nothing as I am not part of the inward looking elite that party and do business with each other at Perpignan.

          Why should I go to Perpignan? To be reminded that there is no place for an “ethnic minority” with no contacts to hunt down within the NGO’s who commission? It is a trade fair for people who still think they are doing some good for others when the economic structures tell a different story. It is a culture of exclusion to the point that the public are being excluded for a week. 1 week out of 2 for the pro’s… have your trade fair as it is a free world of course.

          I’m going to Arles instead. They charge me directly but are open about it. I get the feeling that unless I end up giving to an NGO in Perpignan, I am going to leave feeling like it was my fault and that I was part of an inferior society dumbed down into misery.

          Does it have to be like this? No way. Change is coming.

  • iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher

    I want to go to Perpignan next year as I love photojournalism as a medium. I go to Arles instead. So I have some ideas… I hope you are true to your word and listen.

    Every time I read something about Perpignan, it is a photographer speaking about meeting other photographers at the Cafe-la-Poste. This is the reputation of the show so I do not go. I get images of people fighting to show work to the editor or the NGO who has a budget.

    I did not write this:- http://foto8.com/new/online/blog/645-visa-pour-limage-3-round-up and read the bottom conclusion written in 2008 about the integrity.

    In 2009, the booklet I bought in Arles declares the death of photojournalism (in a defiant context of course).

    It has the reputation of an industry trade show with the tourists as a sideline. So to help people like me who are just members of the public (and not a white male western democratic individual) who would love to come…

    Some ideas that can help, as someone who is not part of your industry.

    1. Creating a sustainable audience.

    What community engagement programs have you developed? And if so, what feedback have you got from them to measure achievements against objectives? Arles does this and it gives the festival a deeper meaning than just a showcase of work. Particularly initiatives working with schools to see and test their response to the festival next year. Bring them into the wonderful world of photojournalism you can create in 2011 by letting them be a part of it.

    2. Embracing audiences online.

    Some people will love the idea of going to Perpignan. Given the online world, what is done so we follow them online if we cannot to participate in person? Is there recording of shows, talks available online so we can be immersed in the complexity and avoid accusations of stereotyping? Enforces responsibility and avoids the “shanty town” effect. Look at the selection on the front of your webpage. I looked at that and decided not to go and I think it is obvious to all now why. Show the talks that provide the context.

    Make me feel like I am not going to be the subject of a white photographers curiosity as a minority by welcoming people like me in.

    3. Economic Conflicts of Interest.

    In order to avoid the conflict of economic interest issue you point out when you say “I am nobody’s whore”… instead of having your hard earned reputation put at risk in this unfortunate way, do you have a formal editorial panel with a cohesive set of objective editorial values that you can publish?

    Do this and you do not even have to say that you are “nobody’s whore”.

    Objectivity, plurality, transparency = trust.

    4. Getty and the festival.

    I have no issue with Getty investing in the festival at all. I applaud good business relationships that make the festival possible. Mutual economic benefit is a good thing managed correctly and the people in Getty who choose to invest in Perpignan are probably different to the people who have decided to back AFP in the Morel case. It is a big complex business that has responsibilities towards its stakeholders and sometimes photographers mistake that for being against Photography. I do not take that view so I applaud your relationship with them.

    However your Morel defence raised legitimate questions surrounding the objectivity of your position. You have become very personally identifiable with the festival as the director so maybe this could change with a broader decision making structure.

    Even with a small team, you have so much good will that you could leverage and bring more people in to embed objectivity into everything you do. You would not be forced to personally defend the festival if you are not so personally the person behind it.

    You would be showing humility for the benefit of the public and avoid accusations of vanity and elitism.

    5. Shanty Town photography.

    What is the cultural, racial and gender make up of the team you employ? Does it contain members of the public who are outside of this? If not, could it – invite members of the public who are part of the work you intend to show to have a say? For example, could a chinese individual be invited to have a look at work chosen showing China? A East African comment of work around East Africa?

    The response itself would be an interesting component of the festival and really show people you have listened – imagine the respect you would earn linking the work with the people. You do not have to tell people you listened. You can show them you have.

    More diversity equals more understanding. Big business has been doing this for years so is able to respond. I hope you have done so too.

    All these ideas can be done quickly, cheaply and efficiently through good organisation. Most of all, they would increase the social value of the images and move beyond the frame.

    Conclusion.

    You promised to listen Mr Leroy. If you have done these things already, I apologise. I hope you read these comments in the good faith that they were written in. This took me 10 minutes to write – in the days you have to plan 2011, there are plenty more ideas that can make the festival say more than it does to people like William Klein.

    I hope they help. I am sure that is the right context, duckrabbit would love to work with you to share ideas about a progressive future for the medium and the festival as they want the same thing you do – a better future for the industry.

    It takes a brave man to invite ideas instead of defending a position through pride. I hope you take the opportunity to be brave for the sake of the long term future of the festival.

    I am a member of the public who loves the medium of photojournalism and I go to Arles every year. I would love to see something that makes me think that Perpignan is the festival I want to go to instead.

  • My2cents

    Interesting post… FYI, the festival does have a public week, which follows the professional week. In involves many schools etc. But the professional week remains focussed on photographers, editors, agencies, publications, NGOs, exhibition curators, etc who work in the industry, and use this as the one week each year where everyone can convene in a pleasant setting, catch up (with each other and what the industry has been doing for the past 12 months), and get a lot of actual business done, which is much better to do in person rather than on the end of a phone/email from opposite sides of the planet. Even though it is limited to this group of people that first week each year, there are so many of us that it is an extremely busy time for all. So i for one feel that the public and professional weeks need to remain separate, if nothing else than for the sheer number of people attending from around the world.

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    Duck- Thank you for shining a light and bringing this to the table. I think most photojournalists behave ethically and want to honestly cover and portray the story at hand as best they can. Unfortunately, many get caught in the high pressure, high stakes conformity that such A Business demands, a way of seeing, interpreting and then highlighting a majority non-white world that serves the viewpoint of a predominantly white perspective.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Too true Stan … you highlight a cycle of representation that is just really damaging.

  • John McDermott

    I am outspokenly critical of Getty Images because of the damage some of their business practices have caused to the industry and to many photographers. I also am an admirer of Jean-Francois Leroy and Visa Pour l’Image and consider him a friend. The suggestion that he could ever be bought or compromised in any way is laughable. Visa is his project, He does it his way, and usually gets things right. But he’s not for sale. No way.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      John thanks for your comment,

      however it doesn’t make complete sense. Visa is for sale. It has sponsors right? They get something right?

  • John McDermott

    P.S.-Canon is also a major financial supporter of Visa-I’m not sure but I would bet they contribute a lot more than Getty does-and there has never been any suggestion that Jean-Francois somehow favors Canon shooters when deciding whose work will be presented. If anything I would expect that he might favor French photographers and that is absolutely not the case. You might not like his way of expressing his point of view in this discussion, but as far as I am concerned his integrity is beyond question.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Again Thanks John. I think you’ll find that Getty are the biggest sponsor but I could be wrong.

      Do you think there is integrity in continually beating up on Morel whilst failing to criticize Getty for their actions?

  • Tom Broadbent

    Fair play to JF. He does after all organise the best photojournalism festival in the world ( despite some people describing it as the grumblefest of the south of france!) So some kudos are required. I reckon until other people step in and do their own festivals, you can’t really critize him too much. For sure perhaps he is a bit old school. He loves his classic photojournalism.

    As for Arles, it is different, guess why? It’s an art photo fest.

  • iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher

    John McD.

    ” I also am an admirer of Jean-Francois Leroy and Visa Pour l’Image and consider him a friend. The suggestion that he could ever be bought or compromised in any way is laughable. Visa is his project, He does it his way, and usually gets things right. But he’s not for sale. No way.”

    First off – fair play to you for commenting and please do not take this as a personal criticism on you but can you see this problem? I know neither you or JF Leroy and the same can be said of most of the public. You are not able to go to every prospective member of the Perpignan trade fair audience and give them your assurance and it matter to them. You actually prove the notion in my earlier post that he celebrates his personal circle and by getting close to him works! This is why he is open to being called elitist even if he is not!

    TED award for TB talk in London. Nachtwey work shown to London audience in 2007 where the every shot showed either a South Asian or Africa suffering from the effects of T.B. Someone in the audience says “All I see are black and asian people suffering but not what is being done, how and why. How can you avoid being seen as racist”. They curator representing Nachtwey (note, a gallery curator and not a photo editior) says “I can assure you that James cares passionately…”. The reply is “This was shown in Times Square – are you able to give this personal assurance of yours to everyone that sees the work?”

    Getting things “right” is a big statement for people like William Klein. I am guessing that you are a photographer too so would be more attracted to the personal side of the trade fair. That is the point. You unwittingly prove that this is a closed circle of friends who are celebrating each other – otherwise known as an elite to others.

    Tom B.

    “He does after all organise the best photojournalism festival in the world (despite some people describing it as the grumblefest of the south of france!)” Damming with faint praise? Even in 2009 the booklet proclaims “Photojournalism is dead”. This is an absurd. Using the words “best” or getting it “right” are subjective at best so I have to assume you are part of the industry too. Perpignan is a trade fair and should be celebrated as such. But a festival? For who? 50% of the show dedicated to Pro’s (otherwise known as Leroy friends as he cannot be bought apparently?).

    Arles? Is Paolo Woods, Olivia Arthur, D’Agata work in middle east, Eugene Richards last year art? Or are they claiming the space Leroy is destroying buy being “old school”. Arles is Art… look at this message from Visa pour section “Friends of Visa pour l’Image.” (could this come across as “Friends of JF Leroy”?) l’Image.http://www.visapourlimage.com/index.do;jsessionid=05223E5A08DE72057666BE15F2829A41

    Again, I apologise if this is taken personally. I do not mean this to be anything other than a structural critique. Same goes for JF Leroy as you would have seen earlier I have tried to be constructive too.

    I go back to the problem: there is no journalism in photojournalism anymore. Perpignan has become the festival of photographers who show suffering in “foreign” or weird places for western audiences with a bolt on – Photographers who are activists shooting without being paid about an issue they believe in hoping to sell to more activists who work commissioning for an activist organisation. Great – but not journalism is it??? See my comments about Mr Leroy being so personally identifiable with the festival and journalistic intent.