The future of photojournalism? This is brilliant. Almost makes me want to learn french…

…if only I had the time.

This proves to me that:-

1. The future comes from visionaries outside the thinking of established photojournalists. The photo’s are best used for their editorial function and not for their “unique personal vision”.
2. That the hero figure of lone photographer roaming the world for extreme stories is not out of date. It was never meant to be since the Japanese made camera’s affordable.
3. That attracting capital into the industry from the outside requires the dilution of the photographers personal vision.
4. That Photojournalism has an amazingly bright future ahead of it.
5. China is not a story of only dirty coal mines and migrant workers. It is a much bigger story than that.
6. Online means choice of camera format means nothing.
7. Broad minds breeds better understanding and no single individual will ever be broader than the collection of inferior minds.
8. Established Photojournalism agencies living off the glories of the past will not have the financial or intellectual capacity to react.

Photojournalists can stay printing books and selling prints at high prices until they lose their best assets – the talented photographers who ultimately will follow the funding.

Photofilms are part of this interactive future. Essential as the content will serve a vital story telling function for future productions. This is why I urge you to listen, learn and be brave to question openly the establishment ways.

Lets face it, you cannot produce what http://www.france5.fr/ have without huge finance but you all can leverage off the knowledge cluster being developed.

Integrated online propositions need photofilms because they will function for different reasons. This lovely french production is out of bounds for most budgets and will demand huge cross subsidisation.

More than that though, it is about the quality of thinking from outside the frame that will determine the quality of product the public face.

Or I have got it wrong…?

Now all the these lovely French people need to do is provide subtitles…

William Klein will not doubt agree that this work has provided the required context. Congratulations to http://www.france5.fr and congratulations to Paolo Woods who I have a huge amount of respect for.

Author — duckrabbit

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

Discussion (17 Comments)

  1. i liked it a lot…in my view brilliant is probably an understatement…really really terrific. awed and humbled by it. i especially liked the concubines bit…(of course). the French are funny…the circulation of this masterpiece would be huge if only there was sub titles. i speak French and i imagine it loses a lot if one doesn’t.

    good find, duckrabbit.

    • totally agree – the concubine story is wonderful.

      To me, the production of this collection is so much stronger than the Prison Valley project, to take a recent example, because it’s about straight storytelling without any manipulation, gimmicks or faux-Hollywood slickness

  2. Jonny Cochrane says:

    this is great, but with so little use of actual photography here, I wonder why they didn’t just shoot video. for this kind of thing, with this much access….just get the bloody video camera out, no?

  3. iamnotasuperstarphotographer says:

    Jonny Cochrane…

    You pose a great question. Photography in a journalistic way always the emotional context for the literal text. They gave visual immediacy to textural information brilliantly – that was its function. Spot news also uses them too hence Getty’s rise based on a distribution platform unmatched.

    But if the move away from printed media removed the informational context for images, then there has to be either 1. A change in the informational context. 2. A change in the function.

    This is both. Photography and still images plays a part in this production but the whole production by France 5 is amazing and it uses photography very specifically and very functionally. And used it really well.

    Look at http://www.france5.fr/portraits-d-un-nouveau-monde/#/theme/chine/concubines/

    It is a photofilm shot sensitively and broadly by two women looking at the story and context. The look at the context of this piece in relation to Paulo Woods work. Forgive me yet I would actually say that there was a huge amount of photojournalism in there but that is just my subjective opinion.

    There is so much to learn but I will not highlight this in one post. There are more examples that I will highlight in due course.

    Conclusion:- This work thinks outside the frame as much as it does inside the frame. That gives the story a bit of magic – and I do not even speak French!!!!

    Thanks for asking the question and contributing to the debate.

  4. The future of photojournalism? … comes from (…) outside the thinking of established photojournalists… http://bit.ly/bwRum9

  5. Diederik says:

    Is it me or… This url is a black screen on my iPad, that would need fixing for it to be the future of photojournalism, IMHO…

  6. iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher says:

    Hahah Diederik – Adobe and Apple.. fix it for the public!!!
    (iPad is still a tiny number compared to computers online yet good point)

  7. duckrabbit says:

    I couldn’t get it to work on my Hoover either …

    Actually that might be a point as to why the IPAD is not the saviour or journalism, as some people seemed to be predicting. Not that I would turn one down ….

  8. The future of photojournalism? This is brilliant. A propos de #Portraits d’un nouveau monde# http://tinyurl.com/3xksww6

  9. diederik says:

    Well there is no business model for online publishing that generates revenue, with some exceptions, of course. Anything you publish online is effectively made worthless economically. With iPad magazine apps, hopefully that may change.. My idea would be for photographers to move their rich content away from the web and into closed networks that are supported by a business model. This idea is unlikely to be supported by many people at the moment. But it can be an answer to some of the problems we are facing.

    By the way, Bite! magazine and Daylight Magazine are collaborating on publishing a full >50 pages iPad magazine before 2011, I’ll keep you all posted!

    Oh and as regards Adobe Flash – even apart from my iPad fetish – I find the usability of Flash websites low because of their lack of speed. Flash is really great in what it can do, but many times full Flash websites are too slow for my concentration span 😉

    • duckrabbit says:

      I am with you on flash …

    • iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher says:

      diederik

      “My idea would be for photographers to move their rich content away from the web and into closed networks that are supported by a business model.”

      Does that mean you propose limiting the audience and putting a pay wall in front of it and charging? I see no social purpose in this other than to pay photographers and I do not see punters paying for that!

      Just an opinion. I think the problem is with the product – Photojournalists need to think outside the frame and evolve their storytelling abilities but that is again, just an opinion… Good luck with your iPad. I am not geeting one.

      I have a laptop and an iPad Nano that can make phone and video calls too!

      • diederik says:

        Photographers, illustrators, journalists, writers, bloggers, everybody basically. I agree with you on the product/content, see the other threads. Context, good research, good storytelling, that is necessary, I am with you on that. But then, when story, context and content are all good, don’t hand it out for free. Nobody can sustain himself that way, it’s the end of context and good storytelling. The options are: grants, awards, lectures/workshops, subsidized work OR reconnecting to the public and trying to develop a business model that generates income. I think we need to do #3, all else will continue to support the problems you dislike so much… Shouldn’t it be possible to bring good stories to people in a way that makes everybody understand there is value in them? Who did come up with the crazy idea that so much creativity should be for free, like it is nowadays? Where can I get my free bread, simply because the baker loves making it so much he is willing to work a nighttime job supporting his baking hobby..? I’m kidding, but why not pay one dollar for the content you feel so strongly about? If you enjoy it, learn from it, understand the world a bit better because of it, then there is value in it, don’t you think? To me that is not infringing on social purpose. Do you think it is?

        • duckrabbit says:

          Diederik, I hope that you are right. I don’t see why people shouldn’t be prepared to pay for a product on the web, but it has to massively distinguish itself from everything else out there. That may be a problem.

          Thanks for debate. I am a BIG FAN of both BITE and DAYLIGHT magazine.

  10. iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher says:

    “why not pay one dollar for the content you feel so strongly about? If you enjoy it, learn from it, understand the world a bit better because of it, then there is value in it, don’t you think?”

    You are totally right. I completely agree. The issue is that how often do you see work that makes you “understand the world a bit better because of it, then there is value in it?

    Look at the stories – the intellectual poverty celebrated for its artistic merit. There are very few PJ’ists who have the intellect and courage to live outside the frame because they are taught by people obsessed by what is inside it and aspire to be like the agency ones. Lovely large format scenes of “everyday life” somewhere exotic… beautiful portraits… amazing but where is the journalism to appeal to those who have lives outside the frame?

    Today, the online stories I see now tell people what the photojournalists think and why they shot a certain frame themselves, what they tried to capture, imposing their will on the viewer. Imagine watching Spielberg narrating ET in the “I really tried to tell the story using this composition…” as the main product. Get out of the way I say!

    What great stuff is left after that? Well lots of it but the noise of showing suffering for donations, self indulgence and the less than 15 image unique personal vision in a printed magazine format type website work drowns out the great in my opinion.

    The thing is, without mainstream journalism, documentary has less of a platform. Without documentary, artistic examinations have less of a platform. The gap between Spot news form Getty and everyone else does not exist. The ability to communicate visually has been lost to the public because the industry focuses on talking to those working to get access to all those “grants, awards, lectures/workshops, subsidized work” opportunities. It can be so different – I am sure of that.

    The stuff is out there. And if the public could see and understand it the it would wonderful -That is why I have faith!

  11. diederik says:

    Agreed again IAM! Good storytelling yeah! Mind you people are out there doing it. Any ideas how we can actively help these people? I mean the MSF piece is great, but if you need to be on the inside to be able to create this and get the platform then what does that tell us about good independant journalism?? By the way, do we really have independant journalism these days? I mean really? Thx, d

  12. iamnotasuperstarphotogrpher says:

    Yes, you have independent journalism (printed media) but this is mixed up with another question: Is journalism objective?

    The internet shows one thing – there is no such thing as objective truth in human stories. Only subjective interpretations and this is where photojournalists have got carried away with themselves. They need diluting where their voice is less prominence to the story.

    They have gone too far and now they have to completely rebuild the space of which photojournalism works in. They have done this to get their name up as a commodity in itself. A very dangerous trend that will stop.

    Rebuilding PJ’ism was too big a task before the net but it is much much easier with the web!

    Build a better relationship with the audience and the likes of MSF will come because they will need you.

    The solutions are coming out now. I have faith but it will not come from the big agencies because they are all structured to survive for the benefit of their owners: The PJ’ists. Someone is going to make something work for the audience and then watch…

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