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Monday, 16 November 2009


The Digital Journalist is one of my must read sites along with TOP.

I've made my donation.

Hell and damnation.

Hell and damnation.

This profession has become so comoditised and misunderstood it's really unbearable. A daily here in Zagreb let go four photographers the other day. They expect their journalists to take photos alongside the usual work. "Everybody can push a button." Right?

I wonder what will Canon and other manufacturers do if such things continue in even greater numbers. Where will they find the market for more advanced and professional cameras? Will the journalists cum photographers lug a Mark IV or D3x or even a 50D or D300 plus a ton of lenses with them? Yeah, right.

Instead of trying to maintain and market a high level of professionalism, as soon as a financial problem occurs, newspaper owners immediately search for the lowest common denominator that will make it possible for them to maintain their profits. I can guarantee that it will only lead to further decline. Why would anybody pay for the lowest common denominator when they can get it for free on the Internet?

I'm imagining the great wheel in the sky I imagined by in July '08 when I found out the newspaper I was working for was closing.
Simultaneously, my "membership" with the photojournalism association ran out, at the end of that month.
Soon, I was getting emails saying it was time to renew. They became more insistent and frequent.
Finally, I had to email a representative and say that since I was no longer working full-time that I could not afford "membership" (at $120) which amounts to a magazine (that never features my work), and the ability to post on the message board...plus access to the job bank. It was suggested that more than ever I needed my membership for networking. I suggested that those with proven professional track records and a membership history should be extended access to the job bank (maybe for a short time) until work can be procured.
Nope. Show us the money and you can play with us again.
If I'm not working, I cannot afford to pay for net working. ...that's the shape of things for the little people that shoot little photos for little newspapers.

Undoubtedly I may be very naive or have an unrealistic opinion of my own skills.

However several years ago I made an appointment with the dept. head of photography in my local museum because I had started a photo project on people in Northern Ireland. The museum has several large collections mostly made up of the work of photographers who took photos (posed) for use to sell postcards in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Often stilted and formulaic work which now is of interest because it is old.

I asked if they were interested in more current documentation done in an organised fashion about ordinary life.

Their answer was no they had no money and anyway it would be another 50 years before they knew what photographs they would value!

I asked where would the photos documenting daily life come from. Their answer "Attics and such". I suggested that meant that huge areas of ordinary life would go unrecorded if no systematic approach was taken. The professional curators said nothing.

They just renovated the building. Cost £17,000,000 ($28,000,000).

Their parting words "Would you be sure to bequeath your photographs to the museum in your will".

With no postcard collections and newspaper photographers a dying breed I reckon there will be a famine of quality images. Am I too cynical in thinking that that will not be a concern to the current curators. Maybe they will just search Flickr and make do with what they can get but I see that as a very third rate solution.

Until Mike made comment, had never heard of the Digital Journalist. It has an amazing track record. And as had been noted, Canon had until recently supported the on-line publication. Guess I should pitch in my two cents worth of foreign currency.

And maybe even the mailing list?

Dirck Halstead was kind enough to feature my work as a South African a few years ago in The Digital Journalist, and his online magazine is a work that deserves every bit of support in a field dominated by consumer magazines in a glossy world where advertisers don't want to see the sick, oppressed and poor next to their oh-so-perfect photoshopped advertising.

I don't get that much work in dollar terms these days I'm afraid, but I'll be sure to send the proceeds of my next job across the ocean to the Digital Journalist. Bravo, Dirck, I hope you are able to keep the lighthouse burning.

I'll make a pledge. I think the Digital Journalist is an important voice in a world where photojournalism is being strangled by lack of funds for non-compliant photographers.


It's interesting that the Digital Journalist, an online-only publication, one that has pushed photographers to become skilled in new media, is itself in danger of ending. The future of news photography and reporting apparently lies with folks on the street carrying cell phone cams, tweeting about whatever is happening in front of them. The new model for journalism pays no one for their labor, except the web site publishers and perhaps the web designer drones, although those drones may be the 13 year old son or daughter of said publisher, possibly working for Ipod tune downloads. Am I sounding bitter?

Ten thousand readers pledging only $6 each per quarter is a quarter million gross income per year. Too bad the meme of the internet is "free".

Bill Bresler, you do not sound bitter. You sound like you've been paying attention. I would comment however, that internet news (including photojournalism) consumption has fostered a "more is more", quantity over quality atmosphere, and we are all to blame. There is more to look at so I keep looking, eventually the truly great photography has near impossible competition from after-school parking lot dust-ups captured with iPhones...and when the hits at the iPhone sites far exceed the hits at the Digital Journalist (or whatever legitimate news photography) site, who gets the ad dollars? The best we can do is to support the "rise above" photojournalists and related news delivery sources.
=) Like me! I just bought a rain cover for my Canon through TOP's Amazon link! Whoo-oot!

One more site I haven't visited -- Dirck was born in Huntington NY--I lived and work there for 63 years-- Never met him. Big small world.

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