Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Rise of "Amateurs"...& "Tenacity"

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Alissa Quart has penned a topical and interesting article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled Flickring Out, which ponders as to what becomes of photojournalism in a digital age and "amateurs"?

So far, I haven't seen it mentioned in the photo-blogosphere, so here are a few excerpts:

Photographers have "been struggling with downsizing, the rise of the amateur, the ubiquity of camera phones, sound-bite-ization, failing magazines (so fewer commissions), and a lack of money in general for the big photo essays that have long been the love of the metaphoric children of Walker Evans."

" Some (but not all) photographers also complain about the insistence that they go “multimedia” and that their still images are sometimes getting overwhelmed and undone (although also sometimes improved) by the sound and moving images that accompany them. The most salient critique of this practice is not the rise of the slideshow, but how it is replacing the still image."

Instead, we will have amateur photographers—some lucky people at the right awful place at the right awful time (Nigerians who are at the next explosion of a pipeline, say). And I hope that innately gifted photographers will emerge as well—a Chinese Kratochvil, a Nigerian Gilles Peress.

We all know that the industry is in a state of dramatic flux, and that photographers are trying to swim against this overwhelming tide of change brought about by all that is mentioned in the first except. What I'm surprised about is that there still seems to be some of us who moan about me, embracing multimedia is one of the ways to survive. It's as simple and straightforward as that. As for the emergence of a Chinese, Nigerian or an Iraqi photographer unto the world stage like Antonin Kratochvil or Gilles Peress, I think (and hope) it's about time.

Elsewhere, Nevada Wier has written a post on how to become a professional photographer (without starving).

She stresses the need of having what she calls the "tenacity quotient". As she writes: "Photographers must want to be a photographer; they live to be a photographer, and they will die being a photographer." That's very true.

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