… for transparency lovers everywhere.

Whats the point of him bothering anyway – he’s got the charity he needed. 7 people donated more than 60% of his pledges so why bother to explain to the little people? She was lucky to get 5 words!

It is not as if he invited conversations around his subject matter…

or how about this…

How about cancelling the Magnum retreat in Italy, save the cash, use Skype if you got ideas to share and ask for less from those kind enough to support you with their hard earned cash donated. I know if I pledged I would be asking this very question no matter the amount but maybe
I am just being picky.

I salute those who gave. Charity is not an entitlement – public funds are the most valuable and deserve the highest level of scrutiny. This increases the pressure for them to deliver.

Tell me why I am being unfair please… very happy to issue an apology if so.

Update: I thought I would add that I do respect Towell’s work – being an owner of his books and therefore a customer of his!

Update: “Public Funds” Clarification

January 14, 2011 at 13:20 · Reply · Edit
@Joni – good point.

“public funds” should be changed to “public donating their hard earned cash” – it is hard as most of the time I blog on the move on my phone!

January 15, 2011 at 02:59 · Reply · Edit

Public funds = given on behalf of the public.
Public hard earnt cash = people buying/donating.


Please note some of the comments have been deleted or amended, including my own. I have written to the people concerned explaining why and we will be publishing a new comments policy, particularly around anonymous posting.

  • Good post.

    I guess Towell is being transparent. He will go to Afghanistan if someone else will fund it, in the meantime life goes on.

    As his response to the important questions asked … well it is not so much dismissive as someone who seems completely out of his depth when asked to engage on a deeper level.

    Heroin addicts in Afghanistan … ffs!

  • I would not call these public funds. These are individual donations in which the donors themselves assess whether it is worth or not donating, and choose voluntarily to do so. In some cases, their perception of the value of what Towell offers might be higher than yours or mine, and incline them more to donate. This does indeed require scrutiny, but the donors themselves (I think) are doing this part of the process. Higher scrutiny should be required for actual public funds, in which the money has been raised through taxes or lottery, and you do not have a choice on what is being spent. You will notice that in this sort of public funds, actual feedback from the public is often ignored, although the processes involve hitting targets, etc. When there were comments going on about the Photographers’ Gallery’s programme and such, did anybody from the institution have to justify their use of public funding? No. Did the comments potentially have any effect on its public funding? No. I guess that some people who have voluntarily donated might feel more reticent, but the public funds will keep on pouring rather unquestioned. I’d feel more uneasy of Towell’s project if he was getting this sort of funding.

    PS: Choose the Photographers’ Gallery as you guys seem to be very keen on discuss it, but any institution with public funds and some flak would do.

    • Hi Joni,

      thanks for your comment.

      I think the point is about better practice when asking for money. Larry has done well, he has got his money and it seems very transparent to me. People were happy to give. Good for them and good for Larry, but it does seem odd to ask for money and then refuse to debate with people who ask critical questions about the project.

      As you say public funding is totally different. Good use of it is rarely measured because of the cost of doing so.

  • Dear Duckrabbit

    No worries, I just chip in with my continuing argument with super about funds! 😀 (I have the feeling that something good will emerge from it)

    I think that Towell’s reply doesn’t need a comment from my part!

    • Joni,

      First off EVERYONE at duckrabbit has MASSIVE respect for what you’ve achieved without funding. It should be an inspiration to all involved in the photography business. I hope you guys do get some cash to make the 3rd eye more sustainable. That said I bet you’ll look back on these early days as some of the most exciting, whatever happens to the gallery!

      Finally, you don’t have to wait for us to write something. Duckrabbit is an open blog for those with something to say, so if you write it, we’ll publish. (last month we had 44000 visits across our site, so there’s a good audience)

    • iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher

      @Joni – good point.

      “public funds” should be changed to “public donating their hard earned cash” – it is hard as most of the time I blog on the move on my phone!

      TPG are never going to listen to me… influencial voices have been criticising for a while and they have got one last chance with this restructuring. They remortaged the property to the tune £1.5m at near the height of the commercial property boom with £3.4m of equity effectively underwritten by us – the public. Get that wrong and they are sitting on negative equity without the appropriate level of interest cover. I hope they have a good FD and a good business manager.

      @duckrabbit – in regard to transparency:-

      Trying to imagine their in house responses…

      1. “Larry, just be careful what you say – have a good retreat and forget about those ‘haters’ and concentrate on the shoot.” (most likely).
      2. “We have all got to be careful with how we behave when taking money off the public. We have a responsibility towards them” (my hope).
      3. “Bothered, we got our cash” (very much doubt that).

      I bet Towell had zero intention of even the slightest hint of this outcome when he wrote his post but that is my point about the industry. It totally lacks the structural discipline required (being a co-operative) to be fit for purpose. More scrutiny is required when dealing with the sometimes tragic human stories in order to wake everyone up from its sycophantic slumber.

      I mean, I have bought his books before and love his imagery but shows the editorial board structure in the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund may not be fit for purpose because it is too closed?

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    The point is that Magnum have a valuation problem and are leveraging the good will towards their brand but carry on like this, who is going to buy into their ethos?

    Note how he says he wants to spark conversation when he is asking for donations and when someone actually asks a great question (not those in talks that might start “So tell me Larry how you got those beautiful images…”) post funding he shuts up shop. I spoke about this before on another blog.

    Is this the vibe the Magnum Foundation want to support?
    Is this why the public gave generously?

    They can talk about that in their Magnum retreat. NGO’s of the world, think where you money goes when you commission that lot… Look how hard they work for the money you work so hard to raise to support the magniicent work your organsiation does.

    Add Gilden’s inbred comment and the lack of public censure from Magnum and ask “what do they stand for”?

    They damage all those shooting with their hearts to make a difference like Kashi, Paolo Woods, Hetherington, Bendiksen, C Anderson, Mollison, the amazing “Why Mister Why”.

    Ask Tim Hetherington or Ed Kashi about their subject matter and listen to the depth of their knowledge. Towell might be more “Art” and A Photo Editor will say he got his detailed list of fans, 7 that will buy his stuff at silly prices (hey, it is a market and nobody is being forced to pledge) but the public at large don’t care and looking only at the super rich relying on trickle down economics will never work.

    I mean this is an “Emergency” Fund project after all – Feels like an “Emergency” from that retreat in Italy discssing all those ideas doesn’t it? What are they going to discuss? What format their multimedia output is going to be?

    Young Magnum shooters must be putting their head in heir hands… what about the key donators to the Foundation?

    Emphas.is must be having a serious think… There are a few easy ways to eliminate the potential exploitation of the wonderful Kickstarter platform.

    Just ask and I would be happy to help!

    • Isn’t kickstarter set up for commercial ventures? Ah, ok, just checking and I think they’ve rewritten the submission guidelines (now non profits can submit a creative project, but charity is not allowed). I think it has huge potential for scams, have any happened?

      @duckrabbit: I would personally be against our funding going above certain levels, or our venue becoming more grandiose. I’ve seen many organizations grow beyond what they are intended to do and then being unable to shrink back. Definitively some struggle makes it exciting! I even believe it affects positively the quality of the work done.

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    I had this chat with David Campbell on the 30th October 2010.

    “The photo projects on the Kickstarter platform are the recipients of funds without an exchange with only the promise to deliver. This has a profound implication for standards because producers have get their funding prior to any actual producing and can do whatever they want without accountability.

    Without accountability, you cannot learn, change or evolve as effectively.

    Kickstarter makes no claims to the quality of outcomes at all and only encourages you to report. Amira Al Sharif’s had access to the social network of the established. That is going to be hard to replicate without diminishing people’s generosity.

    Why does it matter? Because businesses are different because have to deliver something that their customers want again and again and again or they fail.

    Give your intended customers what they want in exchange for money and you will get sustained funding – It is that simple. Facebook, Amazon, MySpace, Twitter, Getty Images, eBay, Kickstarter all do it and it is not just about profit.

    Photojournalism is in deep trouble because it has quite simply failed as a business.”

    This was written prior to the release of the launch of the Emergency Fund. I wish the ideology would change and more than ever, I cannot see change from the people on top of the industry today. Change will come from something new coming from the outside without the baggage of the past and have the courage to challenge convention.

    Maybe it iwill be duckrabbit, bite, an NGO or maybe it is 50pm. I wish it would be Magnum but I bet it would be easier to change the politics of Palin than it is to remove the ideology of entitlement so damaging for all trying to get their stories out there shooting withtheir hearts.

  • Duckrabbit…

    Enjoying your site and will drop in from time to time.

    However, I am trying to figure out the rub with Larry Towell. I have missed some of the back and forth dialogue evidently, but just reading the last few comments I must admit to being a bit surprised at the rancor towards Larry and the Magnum Cultural Foundation. None of us are EVER beyond reproach, but I do want to understand the concerns here and see if I can be of help. I am on the Board of the MCF and they also allow funding to come in for our Burn EPF grant for 15k which simply allows a photographer to continue a project. Anytime money is involved with anything, criticism of how the jury juried or who got the funds and why is just a never ending conversation. So all of us must choose our battles wisely so to speak and fund folks who we trust to spend our gifts. IF in doubt , just do not support.

    Also a bit confused about how some think Larry needs to respond or spend his personal time. For example, why can’t Larry go a a Magnum business meeting, take his wife to dinner, have a beer at the local pub, talk or not talk about Afghanistan, and still be very responsible with funds donated by believers in his craft so proven over so many years? I think no matter how many stones one wants to uncover, the motives of Larry Towell are going to come up clean.

    Doesn’t Larry Towell ONLY owe us his work? It is his work that we are supporting after all. Larry is totally averse to interviews , blogs, all of these things. He struggled with questions. Any awkwardness is just Larry being Larry. He is not trying to pull the proverbial wool over anyone’s eyes. Nor is Magnum. Larry takes pictures in places he feels need to be documented. We at Magnum I think have a strong track record for supporting human rights and photographers rights as well. If we are having a meeting, it is in order to survive. Believe me. There should be targets out there for all of us, there are some serious problems and we need to stand together. Please take a close look at all that we try to do.

    You should also know that Larry Towell was single handedly responsible for raising the money for the Inge Morathe Award for women photographers. The was the progenitor for the MCF and for all that we are trying to do to support photographers. No not Magnum photographers. All committed photographers from many agencies and photographers without agencies.

    Maybe I have missed something. Please tell me if I have. Please please also ask any questions about the MCF or whatever you want about Magnum motives or what we hope to accomplish as individuals or as a group . I will do my best to answer.

    Cheers, David

    • Hi David,

      I know its confusing, but ‘duckrabbit’ did not write this post. It was ‘Iamnot’. Bit like the fact that you might not agree with everything published on BURN. We are a broad church.

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    Thank you for the response.

    There has been an on-going conversation on this blog, myself being a part of this as much as anybody else, about the structure of the industry and the behaviours it incentivises. On many blog posts and debates, I have continually said the same thing – I love the Magnum brand yet I have reservations about what it has become and where they intend to go.

    The business of photojournalism has failed and is continuing to fail hence your own choice of word “survival”.

    The simple version of why I think this is happening is that the current top of the photojournalism industry is out of touch with the socially networked generation and has for too long relied on other people’s audiences and through being paid through other people’s business models.

    Instead of building an effective bottom up audience engaging structure that is both responsive and evolutionary in what it does, it has in parts become a top down curatorial and editorially driven industry that runs itself like an exclusive club that spends much of its time struggling to establish its ideology onto the world of XBOX’s, iPhones, Facebook, digitisation and rapid innovation.

    I would love to hear that I am wrong and the debates we are having here are about transparency, democratic structures and ethics so I thank you for joining in.

    So in this context, I disagree with the idea that Larry Towell “ONLY owes us his work” as he owes the whole of the medium to act as responsibly as he can so PJ’ism can more than just survive. Same with the Magnum Foundation as it is the recipient of funds donated by others and concerns itself with raising important issues such as Human Rights and “Long term Emergencies” and here is why.

    If you know Larry Towell has an “awkwardness” then someone should help him and not expose him “for just being Larry”. Is Bruce Gilden “just being Bruce” when he calls Russians “Inbred”? There is a logic that says people should just be honest and transparent because honesty is of higher value but there must come a point when that becomes a liability for the brand and lets face it – for many, Magnum IS photojournalism whether you agree with that or not.

    (Readers see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/27/bruce-gilden-magnum-russian-gangsters – see the last paragraph. Imagine if a politician stated “”Russians are smart and very dangerous. I could do great work in Russia. You have a lot of people who look like they are inbred.” in public… the outrage. What do you think my Russian friends thought of that? Is that good for anybody no matter Gilden’s reputation for interviews?).

    Many have commented that if Larry Towell needs to go on Kickstarter, what hope for the rest of them and what is the point of Magnum?

    Larry Towell has asked the Kickstarter community for pledges of help, leveraging off the reputation of both his past and of the Magnum brand. The Magnum Foundation wants to engage on issues involving human rights and have funded his work and this project before. Larry Towell goes out and asks the public for $12,000 to go on his trip (we have to assume Magnum cannot fund it) in order to have conversations around his chosen subject matter: Crisis in Afghanistan.

    So when someone asks him a question about Afghanistan with the INTENTION to donate… what answer does Larry Towell give? 5 words and a closed ended answer – AFTER he got his $12,000! Then tells the world he is going on a Magnum retreat in Italy when people have pledged for a project that is reputedly in a situation of a long term “emergency”?

    Is that the level of effort or respect the public deserve? Have people got to take your word over his very public actions? Same with Gilden.

    Could Magnum run its own ship better in terms of cost management before going out to Kickstarter, asking the public for money? I bet it can.
    Could Magnum diversify its revenue stream by being more disciplined and adventurous? I bet it can.
    Could Magnum be a better responsible citizens of the photojournalist world and be the example for which everyone can aspire to? I bet it can.
    Could Magnum restructure its co-operative structure to adapt itself to the current media landscape?
    I wish I could bet that it can.

    I have reservations about Magnum because of comments like Gilden’s, attitudes like Larry Towell’s. Treating the public – all of them potential supporters of Magnum that could make the difference from surviving to investing – with complacency with causal indifference is not a fair return for the love given to your organisation. Treating audiences like you do yourself when you yourself say “who in the world is this mythical “wider audience” anyway, and tell me exactly why we are appealing to them? ” (see http://www.burnmagazine.org/essays/2010/09/andy-spyra-kashmir/ – for full context).

    I can tell you why the audience are important, because without them, you are on Kickstarter. Without them you are having retreats in Italy discussing survival. Without them, you cannot help more talented passionate aspiring photographers by investing in them. Without them, you can only realistically let someone into your co-op if they are already making income so you can take your %’age for just being Magnum. Without them, no matter the virtuosity of intentions behind the lens you do no good at all if nobody sees what you can see behind the lens.

    I happen to think that photography has never been so popular – never before has the world bought photographic tools in such large volumes. Look at how many cameras there are in the world.

    The world needs a thriving Magnum. We need people like Christopher Anderson and his brilliant “Capitolio” being better marketed/distributed/PR’ed in much more radical ways. We need more Jonas Bendiksen’s and all his amazing thinking outside of the frame. We need more Martin Parr and the sharpness of his observational intellect. We need more Bruce Davison’s “Subway” and definitely more free workshops for kids in schools rather than £350 + VAT workshops for want to be adult photojournalists looking for an entry into Magnum.

    All this can only be done if Magnum is more than just surviving. I have have bought books from them as well as Towell’s, Koudelka, Pinkhassov, Abbas et al. so I believe that I should be a valued customer of yours.

    I believe you do miss something vitally important and it all comes down to this.

    You say “IF in doubt , just do not support.” where I think you should be working much much harder by saying “If in doubt, let us know and if you have some good ideas to make us better, we want to know”.

    Just like Larry Towell should be giving more back for each of the donations pledged on Kickstarter at every price point.

    That should be the culture of any organisation that wishes to succeed for without it, you get Towell’s complacent disengagement, you get Gilden’s comment on Russians and you get told from the board member of MCF who effectively says if you don’t like us, just don’t bother yourself with us so we can both mind our own business.

    Because of that, behaviours like Gilden’s and Towell’s continue to go unchecked and do a massive disservice to people inside your own organisation shooting and working their hearts out. They are symptoms of a malaise based on a sense of entitlement fortified by a structure that is top down and closed akin to a form of cultural protectionism fighting to survive on trickling down Magnum’s ideology what the medium is all about.

    One day, someone with a different model is going to come and treat the audience like the most sacred thing on earth whilst having the strength to stand up against what is wrong within their own community so they are better placed to serve the public. (I have stated before on this blog, I hope that is Magnum as only they have the capacity to increase the market for everyone in this industry by their own success just as their own failure is so symbolic of the rest of the industry).

    As a lover of the Magnum heritage, it just breaks my heart to be even thinking like this.

    I really really do hope with all the sincerity I can muster that I can rediscover my love, respect and most of all trust in Magnum in the future, not just for its glorious past.

    Thank you for your decision to write on this blog post. .

  • falling soldier

    Well done for stepping in DLH.

    How is this public money? It’s PRIVATE money surely? People have a choice – they read his request/proposal and choose to donate accordingly. LT is therefore answerable only to the people who fund him. If other people want to know more because they’re thinking of contributing, it’s up to him if he wants to respond or not. If he doesn’t, so what? Don’t contribute then and find another project that provides you with the info you want.

    In any case, when you work overseas in extreme locations, things go wrong, things change, things EVOLVE so maybe he’s stil thinking things though? Or maybe Larry likes to work in a fluid, unspecific way. Hey or maybe he just doesn’t like people probing him. I don’t know – his business and his alone. And why is he under any obligation to answer to Cynthia or anyone else anyway? If he doesn’t answer then he probably doesn’t get their money – he deals with that, no one else. REPEAT: HIS ACCOUNTABILITY IS TO THOSE WHO FUND HIM NOT THOSE WHO MIGHT FUND HIM.

    The original post seems below the belt in my opinion – sensationalism that whilst probably drawing site numbers, does so at the expense of of a brave, well respected photographer with a solid history.

    Shit, has it really come to this when photographers are taking public potshots at other photographers? Turn the ire on Dave Cameron, Bob Diamond, News Corp, but please not on each other.

    • ‘If he doesn’t respond so what?’

      You ask people publicly for money and you are not allowed to ask questions?

      • falling soldier

        ‘If he doesn’t respond so what?’

        People can ask, of course, but ultimately up to him if he responds.

    • falling soldier

      Does that really equate to “a fucked world.”

    • falling soldier

      Now this comment is bizarre.

      What is this – a lynch mob where under the slimmest premise posters and individuals are castigated as “racists” or “fascists” and where allusions are made that well established career photographers are casually riding some kind of gravy train. So much poison – even worse because it’s trying to disguise itself under a sanctimonious drive towards “transparency”, “accountability”. Zzzzz.

      Do you (DR) really care about these issues or are posts like this merely polemical Glenn Beck style ratings drives which are ultimately self-serving in so much as they push up your Google Analytics score, probably drive people to your production website, and then you can then sit back with your feet up congratulating yourself on how great you are?

      For the record myself, Joni and Eva all made broadly the same point (which you will see IAMNOT acknowledges below). But wait, we’re probably all fascists who should go live in a dictatorship right and our opinions don’t count because they’re different than your own.

      If we want to debate things in a productive manner am happy to do so, but do you need to resort to the gutter tactics of personal insults. I mean when you make these kind of personal attacks against people (i.e. me in this instance) what are you really hoping to achieve?

      • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

        “What I said is that it’s up to LT to pick and choose who he responds to and that ultimately he stands to lose if he doesnt.”

        He is promising to be the catalyst for the conversation, and then he gets his cash and says nothing.

        You are right – everyone has a right to act the want they want to but it is just not nice is it?

        Look at the deliberation in his comments prior to pledged funds and look after. 5 words versus over 50 as an average before he got funded?

        The thing is, his actions will in part define how photojournalists use the Kickstarter vehicle and it defines the way the public react to the next time a photojournalist goes to Kickstarter.

        • falling soldier

          We don’t actually know if he has said nothing though. Perhaps privately he is engaged in some form of dialogue with the committed funders/donors? One would imagine so.

          Then again, I’m not sure about this. Put it another way, does he as a free, creative spirit have an obligation to shape his vision to fit the demands of the public (in this instance those who funded him). Do they call the shots on what he does, and to what extent? If he does, he therefore loses control of his own ‘agency’ and with it some of what makes him special. Perhaps that is what DAH is alluding to in his ‘ONLY owes us his work’ comment.

      • Hi Falling Soldier …

        first off a sincere apology. My drunken bad. You’re right the response was childish. Sorry.

        We are going round circles though aren’t we, arguing different points?

        I say if you ask for money and then dismiss questions of those who raise issues people will accuse you either of being unable to answer the questions, which in this case were pertinent, or arrogance. I think we can agree that’s a likely response. Not from you, but from others.

        And yes I did like in a country that was a dictatorship and that’s why I think it’s important to engage in these kinds of debates.

        But of course I agree with you he has no obligation to respond. Its up to him the level at which he engages.

        • falling soldier

          Apology accepted.

          Let’s focus on the issues.

        • iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher



          The Magnum Foundation claim to want to bring issues of social importance to the public in order to raise awareness. Larry Towell states he wanted a conversation around the issues of Afghanistan.

          Look it up. Conext, context, context. Towell is not a private individual representing himself on Kickstarter as then he can do what he wants. Towell IS part of Magnum and Crisis in Afghanistan is part of the Magnum Foundation.

          So no, he is not a private individual because of who he represents. If he wants to be, resign from Magnum and take your work down form the Magnum Foundation so as not to taint their ideals.

          So what if “Iamnot…” starts a Kickstarter project on “Sarah Palin and why she is right to call criticism a ‘Blood Libel'” and ignore the world.

          It is about responsibility and sustainability.

          • eva


            Larry Towell might be all that, but the people who donated their money on kickstarter donated it to Larry Towell. Point. This money serves to accomplish what he say in the video, where he does not only mention Russia, but Obama as well, btw.

            Now, Larry Towell is a photographer, not a politician. So I don’t expect him to take a part, nor my part (pro or against something), I expect him to do what he has stated, to go to Afghanistan and finish the work. And I make any bet that if he runs accross evidence of wrongdoings perpetuated from whatever country he’ll document it.

            Again, I never said Cynthia Cannady’s question didn’t deserve an answer, what I say is that the way the question was posed has led to the answer she has gotten. I also have stated, fom the first moment on, that Larry Towell could have answered differently. To take the screenshot you have posted above, and posting it over here, without even a link back to where it comes from, pointing a finger against Larry Towell was the wrong way, in my eyes.

            To open a debate about it could have been a good thing.

          • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer


            “Again, I never said Cynthia Cannady’s question didn’t deserve an answer, what I say is that the way the question was posed has led to the answer she has gotten.”

            I do not believe that I said anything like that about you.

            Please see that I did not post the link on Kickstarter itself to start some of the more messy parts of it.

            My comment on the other post.. oh wait… (copy & paste) here it is:-

            “@Eva/Falling Soldier.

            Respecting the audience is NOT ABOUT THE IMAGES. It is how you run yourself as an organisation.

            Why do people not see this? When I am talking about customer service, I am not talking about if I like the goods or not. I am talking about customer service and how hard your staff are working.

            This is about Magnum and how hard Magnum are working to prevent it from having to just survive.

            We keep going back to the lens, what is inside the frame, what is behind the mind of the shooter.

            NO – this is about the organisation of Magnum and its ability to treat an audience like its life blood.

            I made sure I spoke about the quality of the work in Magnum and celebrated it. Look back at the blog, I have always stated that I have bought his books before and was excited to see his book being produced.

            So you have all missed the point. I am speaking not as a photographic expert as there are many more people than me who can provide all sorts of lovely comments on something as qualitative as what makes a good photostory.

            It is about how you act as an organisation. All things being equal, Towell could have acted better, Gilden could have shown restraint and DAH could actually say “we want you to enagage” instead of like it or lump it as that gives them the best opportunity to do more than survive.

            I am saying that being a magnificient photographer does not excuse you for being unprofessional and treating your audience well is just part of being professional.

            Read back what I said. Where did I ever say Towell was a problem as a taker of beautiful images?

            Thank you for the debate. I see duckrabbit’s post and I am just a memeber of the public who was invited to share his opinions but will now restict myself to the comments sections as a member of the public.

            It is not me who calls for the death of photojournalism and it is not me who questions Towell integrity as a human being or a great photojournalist. Stay behind the scenes photographers and do what you like but when it comes to managing the business of photography, take it out of the hands of photographers, editors and curators from the art world so they can best concentrate on the what they do best. Take pictures, edit and curate. Take the PR out of the hands of photographers as look at what happens if you leave them exposed!!!

            I definitely call the organisation of Magnum outdated. I do think that the aesthetic is also outdated as it speak a language that most do not care about in the multimedia age but again, on another post I say it is a visual language I both love and understand!

            We keep going back to the images and ignore the reasons why photojournalism is in the state that it is in.

            That should remain the focus of the discussion.”

            On the later blog post, I point out the value discrepency here:-

            “Look at the relative value analysis I did on Kickstarter on another post. Whoever set those price points on Kickstarter for Towell needs their head examined.

            Maybe they think “Good job, we got our $12,000? and good luck to him on his shoot. Better it gets done than does not. 7 people gave 60% of the pledges. 7 people gave $1,000 each. Who in their right minds devised such a stupid value system and encouraged Towell to be exposed like this. I believe I used the word “expose” in the original reply to DAH.

            That is what I mean by organisational problems. Only people who can afford to buy as many houses as they like can afford to buy a house they dont need for charitable purposes. What kind of audience is that for a human rights story????

            It is not 2, 5 or how many words. It is not the beautiful shots Magnum take. It is the organisational capabilities of the photographic industry with a valuation problem who’s bubble burst decades ago.”

            Photojournalism has to organise itself better because the way it is organising itself today, it is not doing very well at all and it reliant on donations.

            On the original post, I saluted people who donated and I still do. I thank you for your contribution to this debate.

          • eva


            I have absolutely no idea how you can compare the funding of Larry Towell’s work with that of this TikTok gadget, it’s two completely different things which of course will be funded in different ways, that discrepancy is perfectly logical, at least to me. That people care more about gadgets than photography, the war in Afghanistan or any other place in the world (unless they sit in the middle of it, and looking at the totality of human beings in the world on the safe side except a few exceptions), consumism of stuff we don’t really need is THE hit. I’m not surprised, but what one thing has to do with the other, I don’t understand.

    • Falling Soldier …

      Can I persuade you to write a post offering counterbalance … on this or anything?

      You make good points. More people would read them in a post, as the debate tends to get lost in the comment section.

      Really, even though we argue the toss, we welcome differing points of view and will give them an equal platform.

      • falling soldier

        Sorry, missed this DR.

        Yeah, as agreed I’ll try and rip it up soon via the original posting route.

        Thanks for the offer.

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    There lies the disagreement.

    I happen to think that photojournalism can be a much more progressive force for good than it currently is. For me to think that, I have to believe that there are problems that can be solved. Debating that is one way and my way as I have long given up on being accepted unless I play a game that I do not believe in.

    I have to believe (like all the big organisations with a social responsibility department) that your influence in the world extends far beyond your individual actions so the responsibilities one holds in the public realm are greater than your personal life.

    Maybe it is because I am not a photographer, a fan that I feel like this.

    Maybe because I believe that we all make a contribution whether we like it or not to the society we live in. Just like the banks, oil companies, chemical companies, politicians, NGO’s, school teachers, doctors, policemen, shop shelf stackers, fathers, mothers, photographers all have to acknowledge their own responsibilities relative to the rest of society.

    Towell in my view has a responsibility to Magnum, to his audience, the Magnum Foundation partners and donators and most of all to the people he shoots in his pictures but you are free to disagree.

    My post was not rude, it did not use bad language and used his own words as evidence. Same for Gilden and same for DAH.

    If anything I am guilty of being satirical in tone (or maybe a bit pompous in the standards I try and aspire to!) like I have always been on this blog.

    If I have said anything untrue, then I will apologise. If I have been unreasonable, then I will apologise. If I have not celebrated the great to give some balance and perspective then I apologise. If this debate leads me to change my opinion then I would be more than happy to acknowledge everybody’s role in that process.

  • falling soldier

    “I have to believe (like all the big organisations with a social responsibility department) that your influence in the world extends far beyond your individual actions so the responsibilities one holds in the public realm are greater than your personal life.”

    Interesting philosophical point here that could be argued strongly either way. Ever seen or read the Fountainhead? Deals with this very issue. Individualism or collectivism?
    The Constructivist photographers like Rodchenko were individulists, then the Russian state ‘took control’ of them and made them collectivists and they were never the same again.

    I have to confess to not knowing a great deal about Larry’s project but surely he deserves the benefit of the doubt in terms of his rational, honesty, etc? Blimey, imagine if you’d been around to put Bob Capa under such financial scrutiny. The Falling Soldier would never have been staged, erm I mean taken…

  • falling soldier

    Good point Eva.

    Also, maybe some of the valid queries she had around alleged US complicity and the like LT would have brought out in a supporting essay to accompany the final work?

    Her post was a bit provocative and in Larry’s shoes I would probably have dealt with it in the same way.

    Cynthia – are you out there? Have we got the wrong end of the stick?

  • falling soldier

    Nevermind Larry being laconic.

    Let’s put all this into perspective shall we: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/14/jp-morgan-bankers-share-10bn

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer


    Did Falling Soldier say that? Not sure he did. As I understand it, I confused public funds with public’s hard earnt cash when I was on the bus browsing the blog.

    Public funds = given on behalf of the public.
    Public hard earnt cash = people buying/donating.

    I meant the latter in regard to Towell. Think Eva made the same point. Also Joni who was the first and I accepted his correction.

    “Facist” is a very strong word. Better focus that on people using “Blood Libel” as metaphors in public life…

    • falling soldier

      Thanks for this IAMNOT.

      And to be clear, NO, I did not say people can’t ask questions. What I said is that it’s up to LT to pick and choose who he responds to and that ultimately he stands to lose if he doesnt. DLH made broadly the same point you will note.

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    @falling soldier

    You like chasing foreigners… “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there”.

    Same for parts of Photojournalism?

  • eva


    You ask what I see in Larry Towell’s work so far.. well, I see Larry Towell.

    If and when I make a donation I do a little bit of research. In this case it wasn’t much needed, as I know his work since years.

    If I have questions, I ask them.. but, as already said above, there are different ways of doing so. If I really want to know what somebody thinks I do not make implications. I at least first wait for his answer, which would have come, I’m sure of that.

    It is true that Larry Towell has met the target, the project is funded. But I don’t think that with this he just says “to hell with the rest”. I merely think he responded to what was in the question, or to the how it was there.

    I have given my donation to someone who has a project in mind, he’ll go about it as he wants, as he has stated in the video. If I don’t agree with that I simply don’t donate. I do not have a right to make him change what he has in mind, what he is, who he is, just because I might give him some bucks. It is my free decision.

    Now, about the fact that he (or any other member of the Magnum collective) are accountable for what each of them say, are or think, in my eyes that’s wrong. If what Bruce Gilden has said (and I don’t make a judgement here, as I have not read yet in which context it was said) was Magnum’s policy, then I’d have a problem with the whole collective.

    But to hold the whole collective accountable for what one member says isn’t really it.. I mean, I live in Italy, but I don’t think I can be accountable for what Berlusconi says or does, really not..

    It’s the tone that makes the music. And the tone of this initial posting, the comments made by duckrabbit on the kickstarter site and up here in response to falling soldier are, in my eyes, that of someone who wants to have a go at someone, for the sake of it.. or traffic for the blog…

    • iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher


      The article is in The Guardian link I posted. The images are easy to find. I think they speak for themselves and Bruce Gilden has work placed on the website of the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund. You will see from the comments on the webpage itself what the majority of people think of them.

      In regards to the whole collective, I believe I make it very clear that I am a supporter of some of the magnificient work that they do in many of the posts and make this very clear.

      Your analogy is very incorrect if I may say so. If you were a member of Berlusconi’s government and his political party and said what Gilden said in the public realm without censure then is that a problem? I would think so.

      Bruce Gilden is in Magnum, and has work up on the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund itself so he represents both of these organisations and has a respnsibility towards both of them.

      Now you ask some great questions in regard to Kickstarter.

      “You ask what I see in Larry Towell’s work so far.. well, I see Larry Towell.”

      I asked this question as the I wanted to see what you wrote about the Crisis in Afghanistan. You confirmed what I thought about Larry Towell’s work. I buy his books so I know about his talent. But even your own response indicates that what you want to see is Larry in Afghanistan… so that validates the question put to him as it was about the situation in Afghanistan.

      Yet the work on the Emergency Fund is supposed to be about this:-

      “Emergency Fund photographers collaborate with traditional and new media, nonprofit organizations, and NGOs to connect with a broad audience. Photographers also engage communities with updates from the field, discussions with experts, and an ongoing dialogue with the public.”

      We are both part of the new media, so are Kickstarter and if the Emergency Fund is about having on-going dialgue with the public then they should have it. Now look at Larry Towell’s pre and post funding replies to questions. I think that he exhibits symptoms of complacent disengagement and it undermines the values of the Magnum Foundation as stated on their own website.

      It gives the impression that the Magnum Foundation is set up to channel funds to photographers of their choosing to shoot what they want for aesthetic reasons only – “a travelogue” as the Kickstarter comment called it. I understand that this is a very simplified answer to the complex question of self authorship and journalistic intent but that is the bottom line. It risks undermining the argument for using Photojournalism can be effectively used in the arena of Human rights when the output is about Larry Towell’s photography and not the subject matter.

      I stand by my own tone and if you follow the blog backwards in regard to Magnum and parts of the photojournalism community, you will see a constant theme running throughout that I put to David Alan Harvey: Photojournalism needs to do much much much better and work much much harder in times when it is in crisis to build new audiences to engage by doing more than just surviving – DAH’s words and not mine.

      I hope this conversation ends up doing some good.

      • falling soldier

        “Bruce Gilden is in Magnum, and has work up on the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund itself so he represents both of these organisations and has a respnsibility towards both of them.”

        True, but he also has his own identity and is free to express his opinions. Using the analogy of politics, we always bang one about politicians lacking identity and only ever towing the party line. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t…

        I don’t want the Magnum guys to be corporate clones of each other – I want them to be mad and bad! Free spirited candour should be welcomed, even if people don’t always say things we think they should.

        • I completely agree with Fallen Soldier on this point. Its the end of Magnum if they start to put their photographers on a leash. Knock Gilden for his comment, which I think was tongue in cheek, but admire Magnum for not treating their photographers like naughty schoolchildren.

          • falling soldier

            “Its that kind of narrow thinking that leads to wars, because we judge everyone of a certain ethnicity by the actions of one.”

            Actually I’m not sure we should be drawing parallels to IAMNOT’s opinions around photography and conflicts. He may be an enfant terrible of the blogosphere but I expect he’s a pacifist at heart.

        • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

          “True, but he also has his own identity and is free to express his opinions.”

          “Its the end of Magnum of they start to put their photographers on a leash.”

          “tongue in cheek”

          “naughty schoolchildren”

          If you two are right, then the industry needs another entrant that sticks up for the section of the public who do not give a jot about who the photojournalists are and how pretty their images look but care about what this community stands for, how they act and above all what they say.

          It is about respecting the audience. Putting the work in and engaging them. Diversity is a massive part of that and so is a leash when it comes to tongue in cheek images of people who let Gilden into their intimate lives only to have him say what he said.

          I do not happen to think that is good enough myself but that is my business.

          I also happen to believe that the public at large do not think that this is acceptible too and that is what counts for me and this goes a long way to explain why the industry is in the state that it is in – trying to survive.

          • falling soldier

            Personally I don’t care what comes out of BG’s mouth – I care what comes out of his camera. Some of what he says might make my ears bleed, but it’s a price worth paying for his magnificent photos. We accept all people for their good and bad points but ultimately need to be positive about them. Let’s celebrate his life work, not shoot him.

            Look, I don’t want to help turn this here into a Magnum debate as you’ve set up another post around them I know. But lest we forget that they’re the Barcelona of the photo agencies. They have the style AND the substance. They have the tiki-taki passing and they hit the back of the net more times than not. They have the chunky centre back of Alec Soth who reads the game so well, and the wily Chris Steele Perkins as a deep-lying holding midfielder ready to break up the opposition attacks and sieze upon the their mistakes. They have David Alan Harvey as the speedy winger curling in the crosses for Martin Parr to stick away.

            I just don’t want Magnum to be standardised and pre-ocuupied with the angst of politcal correctness. I want them to be like Barcelona. I want them to be creatively free to do whatever they want and I trust them to get it right because mostly they do. We can’t moralise to or about them too much though – ultimately they’re a private company of intelligent, creative, politically engaged individuals who live and die by their individual and collective decisions. They’re under no obligation to make themselves liked or to have a pre-detemined amount of social value. Of course they need to be financially accountable whenever appropriate but outside of that they are the captains of their own fates, the masters of their own souls.

          • I don’t get this ‘sticking up for the public’.

          • falling soldier

            I’m drowning in political correctness.

          • iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher

            Again falling and duck, we can agree to disagree here as I do care both about public opinion, behaving correctly and what comes out of the mouth is definitely reflected in what comes out of the camera.

            Just look at Bendiksen vs Gilden’s images – both Magnum – one is a credit to them and one is questionable in so many ways.

            I have openly admitted I am a fan of Magnum and I am a romaticist at heart. Guilty as charged!

          • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer


            “sticks up for the section of the public who do not give a jot about who the photojournalists are and how pretty their images look but care about what this community stands for, how they act and above all what they say.”

            Magnum can carry on doing what it does with exactly the same success as it currently has. That is their business of course but ask them do they want to do better for themselves and the medium.

            @falling soldier

            It is not about political correctness, it is about making the effort to be as good as you can.

            So yes, “ultimately they’re a private” (photography collective) “of intelligent, creative, politically engaged individuals who live and die by their individual and collective decisions. They’re under no obligation to make themselves liked or to have a pre-detemined amount of social value”.

            Yes of course they are entitled to continue to be as successful as they currently are, using their current model of how they do things today and behaving in exactly the way they do now. If DAH comes back and says they are doing exactly what they want in the way they want to and I should mind my own business, then fine. He does not have to come back at all.

            If they want to move on somewhere else and do better, then they should be working harder and looking for ideas on how to progress. I am not pointing out that they need to be politically more correct, as my issue with Towell has nothing to do with his quality of images or even the story he intends to shoot. I have said in other posts I would love to buy his book when it hits the shop.

            From an organisational point of view though, Magnum have taken their eye off the ball. They have got complacent and the symptoms of that are showing up everywhere. That is my point, that Towell should give his audience more effort in conversing with them when he says he want money to do that, that Gilden should make more effort with his own words about people who let him into their lives and DAH should want to please his “mythical audiences” instead of dismissing them.

            They are the symptoms of an organisation that have focused too much on what they shoot and not enough on everything else. That might have been good enough in the past when magazines came to them but today, that is not working for them now else DAH would not be talking about survival.

            I did ask tell them do do anything except treat their audiences like the most sacred thing that they have and point out the risk of not doing so, the symptoms of the malaise.

            The Mangum Foundation and work on the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund is different from Magnum because it works in the field of Human Rights and has taken financial help from its partners so it will be placed under greater scrutiny at the very least from them. Gilden has some work on the Emergency Fund website and that is partly funded by Soros’ Opens Society Foundation. What does he think of someone funded by his organisation having those kind of views on the people consenting to be shot by him? Maybe he will laugh it off or maybe he agrees with Bruce. Maybe he thinks “There goes Bruce again just being tongue in cheek”. I cannot say but surely that is a valid question?

            I would argue that Gilden has a responsibility towards them as much as for himself just like any other employee inside Soros’ organisations. Just my view, just an opinion and this is just a great debate!

          • Did ‘the public’ ask anyone to stand up for them?

            Isn’t that patronizing?

            Can you not see the contradictions in pointing out the great work done by many Magnum photographers and then asking,

            ‘ask them do they want to do better for themselves and the medium?’

          • Actually this comment reminds of when the tories beat on the BBC (who I worked for, for many years)

            ‘behaving in exactly the way they do now.’

          • Sorry, it’s just wrong to beat up on Magnum because Towel dismissed a legitimate question about the politics of his work in Afghanistan.

            Its that kind of narrow thinking that leads to wars, because we judge everyone of a certain ethnicity by the actions of one.

          • IAMNOT … You are mixing your metaphors, Gilden is not an employee of Magnum.

            Secondly I honestly don’t think you get the creative process.

            Audience is just a part of the process but thinking about them too much can only lead to derivative work.

            When someone employs duckrabbit, its because they like what we do.

          • falling soldier

            “It’s that kind of narrow thinking that leads to wars, because we judge everyone of a certain ethnicity by the actions of one.”

            Actually I’m not sure we should be drawing parallels to IAMNOT’s opinions around photography and conflicts. He may be an enfant terrible of the blogosphere but I expect he’s a pacifist at heart.

          • falling soldier

            “…sticks up for the section of the public who do not give a jot about who the photojournalists are and how pretty their images are”

            How do you know they don’t care about quality? Conducted a poll? And who are “the public” specifically? The majority of my website’s hits are international. So who is my “public”? Everyone in every country?

            “..look but care about what this community stands for, how they act and above all what they say.”

            What does ” the community” now mean with the international nature of information exchange and access?

          • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

            @ falling

            I said a “section”, not “all” or “most” or whatever. I said “section of the public”, that’s all and that section could be one person after all.

            @ duckrabbit

            “Sticks up for the public”: I did not say that so don’t quote me like that. Indeed it makes me sound patronising.

            I said someone else needs to come in and enter the photographic landscape. Now falling thinks I am speaking “for the public” when I was speaking as a fan.

            You saying I do not understand the creative process (which to be fair I may not) like there is a single standard process you know exists?

            I “beat up on Magnum”? Think about it, I make a plea for them to organise themselves better AS A FAN.

            Where do I say Gilden is “employed by Magnum?” I said he represents them. In fact you accidentally may prove my point that their organisational structure needs to change.

            All this makes people like @falling call me the “enfant terrible” of the blogsphere by following your interpretation of what I said, and not what I actually said.

            I am like am Dolphins fan who does not like their QB. A Man United fan who hates seeing the club over leveraged. Like a Liverpool fan who hated Gillet and Hicks. Like a Hip Hop fan who never liked Puff Daddy taking the politics out of the genre and making it bling. Read exactly what I said to DAH. I think the world would be a better place with a thriving Magnum and I have bought many of their books.

            I am a pacifist and I would love it if Magnum changed although they don’t have to, I would love photojournalists to have a stronger platform but maybe they don’t want to and I would love my sentiments not to be ruined by distorting the perceptions of what I said and turning my call for change into this monster it has become.

            Said this on another post, I am going back to making comments as a member of the public as that is how I started all this. Just as a lover of the medium and a disenchanted fan.

            I did not go on Kickstarter and start linking them to the debate. I did not choose to be exposed in that way yet I stand by all my comments and my post and I apologised in a few areas where I made myself misunderstood and offered everyone an apology if I was not fair.


            The biggest shame here is that a great opportunity for a fair and progressive debate with DAH has been lost that may have made a difference to all our lives in this age of photojournalistic austerity.

            Oh noooo Joni… time to hit this single malt again to cure my Osbourne’itis 🙁

        • falling soldier

          “Sorry, it’s just wrong to beat up on Magnum because Towel dismissed a legitimate question about the politics of his work in Afghanistan.

          Not surprised LT responded as he did. If someone had been as patronizing to me as she was in such a public way I’d have done the same. As Eva eloquently said yesterday, it’s the tone that makes the music. Cynthia’s original question to LT had a kind of Death Metal ring to it, when maybe it should have been more Chris De Burgh or Wham?

          Not quite sure how Magnum sneaked into this debate anyway (though granted it’s given us much to debate).

          • falling soldier

            I might now retract this comment once I’ve seen the original video that has just been brought to my attention on the other post (and which is not referenced above I believe).

      • eva.mbk


        I have seen the link to Bruce Gilden, but have not yet had the time to read all of it, so I will comment on that later on, if so.

        Now about the Emergency Fund and the kickstarter funding. To me it’s two different things. I, as an individual, donate on kickstarter to whom I want, I could even donate to Larry Towell because I like men wit beards, and no one could argue about that, it is MY money, MY free decision.

        Aside of that, I already wrote (in a comment that was deleted) that yes, Larry Towell could have answered in a different manner, but also the question could have been posed in a different manner, not as an implication, but as a genuine question. I think his answer was in line with the question, seen how it was put.

        I see Larry Towell. Yes. I know that if he goes to Afghanistan then I will see his take on it. Which I do hope is different from what we get to see most of the time coming out of Afghanistan, meaning US troops. Knowing his previous work I am confident that it will be in depth, that it will show us something different, that is will show us the people living there, that we will see human beings, photographed by a respectful and human photographer. That it hopefully will move someone, open eyes and bring help to those in need.

        I’m too cynical to believe that it will change any politics.

        With that I don’t say that he is the only one able to do achieve this. But he is the one who has put out a question for funding, and whom I’ve donated my money to.

        Must for now skip over the other points in the comment, will come back when I have more time.

        It is not an easy topic, but I too do hope it will do some good.

  • falling soldier

    Sorry, don’t understand the linkage between my preference for girls and parts of PJ?

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    That quote is the first line rrom a very famous book… Standard A level text.

    All this “take my word for it”, “look at track record”, “part of history” stuff that people say about Towell and Magnum just re enforces my point. Michael Jackson made 2 of the best albums ever in the 80’s. Then got complacent. Liverpool football club the same. How about Boston red sox run of history before new owners took it over with new ideas?

    The point is “the past is a foreign country they do things differently there”. The Go Between. LP Hartley.

  • falling soldier

    Take your broader point IAMNOT ref Magnum and the like. There is inevitably some kind of legacy issue with regard to how the older generation of photographers adapt to the super connected world we live in today and the demand for instant answers.

    The LFC analogy a good one: long history of success, failure to adopt to the present. Likely now back on track with a new philisophy.

    Mike Jackson agree – though he probably also lost his hunger which in fundamental ways was probably linked to his bank balance and the fact he was enjoying himself on his ranch.

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    @falling soldier

    Accountabilty and transparency are virtues to be defended. I hope you read my reply and see it as reasoned, fair and progressive.

    I thanked DAH and I will thank you for the contributions you have made.

    • “I hope you read my reply and see it as reasoned, fair and progressive.”

      You do sound there like George Osbourne.

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    The response to DAH were derived from their actions. I also praised Magnum too. That is a genuine sentiment.

    The legacy issue is pretty much the one that I raise.

    I think DAH has some issues to respond to even if he disagrees with my assertions particularly in regard to Gilden and his remark about why they should appeal to wider audiences.

    Appealing to wider audiences is exactly what Magnum should be trying to do in everything that it does, every single second of every single day?

    That is just my view…

  • falling soldier

    Absolutely. We can disagree but still be on the same side.


    The Magnum thing is a much bigger issue, warranting a seperate post.

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    Time to separate all this. I have reservations on this occasion but all other times @duckrabbit has been on the trail to expose many matters of great importance. Morel, Vernashi, copyright, journalism are all places where he has positively contributed. David White, Ciara, Diedrik all have made their points.

    Let’s just start a new post starting with DAH and my response….

  • falling soldier

    You’re no doubt correct IAMNOT. But I can’t let accusations of being a fascist pass lightly.

  • i am in just a bit of a mad scramble at the moment..i have NOT abandoned this thread…i just need to fix a couple of things and will be right back..

    everyone is making good points..

    let’s just all chill for a minute and i hope perhaps to alleviate just a bit of confusion..no, i do not have all the answers…but it does seem that everyone here actually seeks the same thing….

    ok, let me get a room for the night, try to remember where i parked my car, and get a hot shower…once i get the basics, i will be ready for some creative writing!! 🙂

    cheers, david

  • iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher


    We started another blog post to keep the discussion from being lost in the comments section.

    I think you are right, we all want the same thing.

  • falling soldier


    This post here is not just about DAH’s opinions.

    His feedback is not only to you; it’s to all those who have contributed here surely + public.

    A number of people have made interesting comments here that are equally worthy of feedback, which would be lost if he transfers over to the other post.

    The new post is about Magnum more broadly (which probably requires a discussion). This one here is soley concerend with the comments around LT right?

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    Good point but DAH is in a key industry position and what he says given he is a board member of MCF, I believe his words carry real weight. I apologise for moving the discussion.

    LT’s actions is a symptom of the same thing… as was Gilden’s public comments… as was DAH’s comment “mythical wider audiences”. It is also the same problem Steve Mayes is struggling with when he says the World Press Photo are struggling with their definition of photography because of the onset of Multimedia.

    The industry has lost its social function because it has lost touch with its audience by defending their idea of what the industry is all about. It has forgot who it functions to serve to the point it is very close to not having anybody to serve at all outside of its own community.

    • ‘The industry has lost its social function’

      IAMNOT I think you spend too much time worrying about the agencies. They do some great stuff and they do some rubbish. I just don’t know how you can justify the statement that the industry has lost its social function. Its changed. Have a look at MSF photo blog.

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer


    George Osbourne.. That is the single worst thing that has ever been written by anybody anywhere about me 🙁

    That is the bottom. Hitting the single malt now…

    • You should just stop writing like him then, eh? 😀

      I think that ‘fair and progressive’ is going to be a combination of words banned from fair and progressive use for years to come.

      • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

        It is definitely time to reign in the excesses of the past on concentrate on a leaner more effective private sector solution to the problems of an overtly centralist judgemental form of management…

        Oh nooooooo Joni – you might be right

        I am devastated 🙁

  • eva


    I have absolutely no idea how you can compare the funding of Larry Towell’s work with that of this TikTok gadet, it’s two completely different things which of course will be funded in different ways, that discrepancy is perfectly logical. That people care more about gadgets than photography, the war in Afghanistan or any other place in the world (unless they sit in the middle of it, and looking at the totality of human beings in the world on the safe side except a few exceptions), consumism of stuff we don’t really need is THE hit. I’m not surprised, but what one thing has to do with the other, I don’t understand.

  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    No Eva, you are right to say that this was not a product comparison.

    Asking for donations to produce something that may deliver in the future is based on reputation and trust. This is overly reliant on the generosity of a few super wealthy will skew the behaviour of donators in the future and the attitude of the person asking for funds.

    One project shows signs of sustainability and the other risks burning out all that good will.

    That is just one judgement that can be made and there are loads more as all I did was analyse the stats.

    Of course with all stats, you are able to call into question the conclusions so your view is entirely valid and I did not forward too many of my own on the original post.

    I have blogged about Kickstarter for months now and predicted these behaviours that are becoming realised. It is valid to say I am making stupid comparisons but it is also just valid to say how can photojournalism learn from analysis.

    I am criticising the organisation of photojournalists – this is not about their images – and looking outside at how best practices elsewhere can give PJ’ism clues to that holy grail of a new business model everyone is screaming out for, so people like Towell do not have to use Kickstarter when they are in Magnum.

  • eva

    Don’t really know where to post this, so many threads now, but this might be an interesting read:


  • Iamnotasuperstarphotographer

    Great spot – one day someone will send a woman? A local photographer? Construct a shooting brief to ask their shooters not to do the same thing? Just some ideas. Maybe get some shots in via email – not via twitter of course – and say “hey, we need something else”

    SM’s Nicaragua is one of my favourites – you see, I am a fan of Magnum…

    See Tim Hetherington’s work there. He always engages the brain and dare I say it, instead of their balls?

    (oops – asking photogs to be reigned in as individuals again… Gulp!)

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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