Photojournalists, a fair few of them, please just get over yourself …

People do not hang around to be depressed. The media overexposes us to images of suffering I think, consistently giving us two messages: 1) there is really nothing one person can do to affect these overwhelming problems, and 2) money donated to Africa will be diverted by corrupt governments and aid agencies and never get to the people who need it.

Karen Ande talking to Miki Johnson on RESOLVE

UPDATE:

The photographer Trent Nelson has left an interesting comment:

‘Then again, millions dead in the Congo since 97 and the coverage has been almost non-existent, until recent years. The nation of Zimbabwe collapses and journalism there is basically shut down, with foreign correspondents kicked out.

We may be overexposed but serious problems persist.

Once again I comment on a serious topic at duckrabbit with no solution to a serious problem.

I agree its easy to kick out, harder to come up with a solution. However the problem isn’t that there is no coverage of these situations. There’s plenty if you want to find it. The problem is that people aren’t interested in the coverage, and that’s a failure of journalism.

One step is to stop giving out awards to two dimensional black and white pictures of conflict and suffering in Africa. Photographers should stop taking pictures to impress one another and start thinking more about audiences and the stories they are telling. And oh yeah, to go back to the interview I quoted from above, they should take Karen Ande’s advice:

KA: People feel more empowered by images of solutions than of pain. I don’t ignore pain in my images. I think it is very easy to focus on pain because the images themselves are so compelling and they affect you emotionally. But the stories I photograph are bigger than that. Yes people are seriously ill, yes children are orphaned. But those orphans play games, and the seriously ill people sit in the sun and talk with their friends. The people are engaged in living. Pain is not the entire picture.

Author — duckrabbit

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

Discussion (4 Comments)

  1. trent says:

    Then again, millions dead in the Congo since 97 and the coverage has been almost non-existent. The nation of Zimbabwe collapses and journalism there is basically shut down, with foreign correspondents kicked out.

    We may be overexposed but serious problems persist.

    Once again I comment on a serious topic at duckrabbit with no solution to a serious problem.

  2. trent says:

    clarification- on the congo- non-existent until recent years.

    • duckrabbit says:

      Good points Trent … as ever … I just think the photography of those countries you mention that a lot of photojournalists and awards celebrate is incredibly two dimensional, repetitive and only serves to maintain stereotypes of Africa that are offensive to the people living there.

      There are on the other hand, plenty of good examples, its just they never get talked about.

  3. Rob Godden says:

    I was in a small village in the hills of Nepal recently to meet with a family of a student I taught English to 13 yrs ago. He had been murdered by the army in 2005 for being a supporter of the Maoist insurgency. I spent nearly five hours with the family talking, photographing and recording a video interview. In that time we smiled, were in fits of giggles, chatted, and cried. I thought about how the footage I shot and photos I took would be edited by a human rights NGO or journalist? Would the smiles and laughter stay? After all the injustice remains unresolved – no one has been prosecuted for their sons death – so they couldn’t be included to show how much impact the NGO has or to illustrate a happy ending. Personally, I intend to keep the smiles and laughter in the final product because that is how it was. But my aim is to tell a story, not run a campaign.

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