A Developing Story – will you help?Written by duckrabbit
Hopefully the title reflects our desire to create an open space on the web in which stories and images that explore the richness and complexity of an unequal world can find a home.
We will also be campaigning for the unshackling of the intellectual copyright of ideas that can save lives (contrary to popular belief this does not mean pushing photographers to release their work under creative commons licenses, nor will the photographs published on A Developing Story be subject to creative commons unless the photographer makes this request)
duckrabbit will be showing A Developing Story off to 250 students next Friday at Amnesty International’s international student conference as part of a panel on journalism that we’re taking part in.
Some terrific writers have already agreed to sit on the editorial board, including David Campbell, whose writing on photography, representation and economics is increasingly influential and also Rob Godden who runs The Rights Exposure project.
A Developing Story is centred on the idea of bringing together a community, outside of purely academic circles, who want to have a strong voice on how stories about this unequal world are told. We want you to become a part of that.
If you have a blog and you like the site please consider adding a link to adevelopingstory.org . Even better, give us a nod as Matt from DVA photo has done here. Follow adevstory on twitter. Better still, some of you many want to contribute to the site.
Essentially we’re looking for:
1. people who can source materials for the front page.
2. writers for the blog (who have a specialism in the field of development).
3. a number of picture editors to run the big picture area of the site, where we will bring to the attention of NGO’s photographers from both sides of the unequal world.
4. professionals working in the field of development communications who can help us source and develop training materials.
Recently duckrabbit ran a focus group with 12 students from Birmingham City University. They were asked to reflect on a video we have produced in collaboration with MSF. The video featured the voices and photographs of people from a hospital in the Congo. Afterwards one of the students, visibly moved commented:
I’ve never given to Oxfam because of the way they talk to me, but that’s different. It makes me want to do something, because you know it’s true, there’s no bullshit involved, it’s just the woman telling her story.
Oxfam actually does some of the best communication work by any charity, but it does show how a simple story told well, in someone’s own words, straight from their own wounded heart, can have an impact. For duckrabbit it all comes back to telling it true, to putting the person’s story first, before any other consideration; giving them a platform to speak, not just to be spoken about. Then people will buy into what you do, because they will trust you.
That’s a first step, but we need to go much further.
Our human right is to have a voice which we can raise up to tell our own stories, not for others to come along and tell and sell our stories for their own profit. NGO’s communications and fund-raising departments should share the same values of empowering local communities through their work as the people working for these charities on the ground.
What might this shift in the way NGO’s work mean for photographers, particularly international ones? We believe more meaningful work, in which you don’t just take the pictures NGO’s want, but also work collaboratively with local photographers, over longer periods of time, building up work of greater depth. with lasting impact.
Isn’t that exactly what development should be about?
I saw this model working when I spent time with the acclaimed photojournalist Jack Piccone in Kenya last year. I don’t think Jack fired off a shot the whole time he was there, but the training that he provided has had a lasting impact with one of his students winning a POYi award and being nominated for an Amnesty International award. More importantly even though Jack and myself have long since moved on from Kenya, the work still endures. That’s a photographer (Jack) having a real impact, not just some egotistical bullshit about wanting to take photos to save the world!