Discussion (5 Comments)

  1. chris peters says:

    the comments posted about this story are so raw. these are some of the topics that I happen to be concerned with and while it offers no answers, it definitely defines both sides of the issues. we need more dialogue about this.

    I still believe there is one more step, one more component that needs to be added to this whole pj debate, and that is the social entrepreneur. why do media outlets (and I group them all togther here) feel compelled to only show the need, the problem, the horror of mankind? why raise awareness when no constructive hope is being shown too? but that is precisely what the social entrepreneurs (ngo’s) are doing – working on the horrific problems of the world.

    a new, humanitarian breed of pj needs to emerge, one that is focused on complete storytelling and not just shocking readers to gain their attention – attention to what? famines, human trafficking, genocide, etc etc? these are overwhelming issues! why not show the readers HOW they can actual help – tell the stories of the NGO’s that are on the frontlines, working with little resources and how they are making a difference. you have the reader’s attention, now offer a solution – tell the complete story.

    I think humanitarian photography, is awareness and hope rolled into one package. every pj photo that is shown should offer the NGO component so the reader can not feel hopeless, thinking that there is nothing they can do. there is ALWAYS something to be done, and the NGO’s on the frontlines are the paths for the readers to not just be horrified at the images, but to understand the story and then know how to respond. not just to turn the page or click the mouse.

    Reading the book “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof, changed my views 100%. everyday people are out there committing their lives to addressing these issues. photographers must tell their stories and not only show the problems thru shocking images, offer the solutions to the reader too.

    respectfully submitted

  2. iamnotasuperstarphotographer says:

    Chris, your request for debating how PJ can be more progressive has been discussed throughout this blog as a current theme. William Klein defined this as context. If you are asking for a socially progressive context for images of suffering to be used responsibly in the context of acting like a catalyst for change then I am certainly in agreement with you.


    There are loads more comments relating to the need to sensationalise, intellectual superficiality and the structure of the current industry that acts like a club, excludes scrutiny like a cult defending its ideology yet to its followers, they appear to speak only to the utterly devoted.

    I agree with you that the top of industry has to reach out and speak to audiences who want to see a different world view to that currently offered by those who legitimise themselves as supporting the human rights they claim to give a voice to yet are exploiting them for either their own financial gain, as leverage to obtain charitable funding or just to be socially accepted by the closed invite only clubs that call themselves the industry.

    The club structure by its very nature is exclusive and this cult has to be replaced by a system of validation that is based on direct public feedback, a meritocracy better balanced away from subjective editorial genius and more by public scrutiny and a market system of creating value so risk/investment can be stimulated. Creativity needs to be funded but the club is keeping everything for itself so no wonder explicitness is used to get the attention of the club picking who they think they can earn from by invitation like a pyramid structure that even Bernie Madoff would be proud of!

    There has to be incentives built into the structure to avoid helpless and utterly regressive stories like this:-

    And more from photojournalists who inspire and liberate:-

    There is a great future for PJ’ism – very soon someone is going to come along and re-struture the whole industry for all those great shooters that are outside the club fed up with fighting to get inside it leading to desperate tactics and visually counter transferring their own desperate desires onto what they shoot. This club is placing itself into the tightest corner of explicit regression and economic doom everyday it closes its doors to real scrutiny.

    Radical change is coming for those who have not lost the faith in the great creative and socially regenerative power of photography.

    Great point Chris – lets keep the debate alive!

  3. chris peters says:

    well, glad to know that I am late to the party but that the party is in full swing!

    maybe because I have been around the block a few times now, I am not interested in fixing the industry, altho I do support and admire those that are determined to fix it.

    I will continue to work diligently to bring humanitarian photography to my corner of the world. I will strive to do what I can, with whatever resources I can. and hopefully I will be part of the ripple effect of the change that is needed.

    glad to be part of this!

  4. chris peters says:

    I read the whole article by William Klein and the comments that followed. thanks for sharing it. yes, I am glad to know that his concept of ‘context’ is very similiar with my thoughts on pj.

    but, I must ask, where does this discussion leave us – the ones that want to do more, not be superstars and incorporate context into our work?

    I am all for complaining as long as it leads to action. so how do we enact upon this? I am reminded of the famous quote by Gandhi – “you must be the change you wish to see”.

    what I wonder is if there are any photo agencies out there that are doing this kind of work? not just the single photographer, getting a grant and working alone. I would think by now, this ‘context movement’ would be more organzied. does anyone know? wouldn’t we be more effective if we were organized and able to offer humanitarian photography services at fair prices so more work could be accomplished?

  5. chris peters says:

    “I agree with you that the top of industry has to reach out and speak to audiences who want to see a different world view to that currently offered”

    I disagree – if we wait for the top of the idustry to change, it will never happen. they don’t care and use their profits as a measure of success as to why they don’t have to change.

    there must be others out there who are already creating the necessary change. all I have found is Chris Tyree who owns Re:Act Media. but surely he is not the only one?

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