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Selling Photojournalismn Or Snake Oil?

“Photojournalism is arguably the last bastion of truth in a muddled world where fact and fiction often blur.” Aiden Sullivan Vice President at Getty Images (apparantly with a straight face)

‘My interest is, of course, in visual storytelling, but also in uncensored and unfiltered truth-telling. That’s where I think VII excels. Our independently produced projects are very impressive, and companies on the commercial and corporate sides are beginning to recognise this integrity, and what it can do for brands.’ Kimberley Soenen, Director VII photo Agency

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    7 comments to Selling Photojournalismn Or Snake Oil?

    • “Integrity” is an increasingly rare “commodity”. ;)

    • Um, yeah. Well, just went to a talk in NYC the other day, sponsored by Aperture Foundation, and with Marcus Bleasdale, Stephen Mayes, Jason Cone, Philip Gourevitch, Thomas Keenan, and Kira Pollack on the panel. Very interesting, and not surprisingly, it seemed that much of the talk centered around the concepts of neutrality (are you doing photojournalism if you are being paid by an NGO, or are you engaging in advocacy?), authenticity (how real are the images we see? What if a photographer manipulates an image for whatever reason?), and interpretation (Can a photograph communicate an idea without some idea of the context in which the image was made?). It was an interesting discussion, worth looking at if a tape becomes available, and it left me with the feeling that we should teach people to stop looking for the unvarnished “truth” in news or in photographs or anywhere else. Perhaps we should start thinking about all of the media we see and consume as “argument” and try to weigh the points and arrive at some opinion that seems true based on the facts. Sadly, despite our living in the age of incessant information inundation, it seems people prefer to absorb predigested truth from the liberal or conservative outlet of their choice or inclination. Assessing argument appears to be a lost skill. In any case, prostituting your integrity because it can do something for somebody’s “brand” is just awful. Would somebody slap Kimberley Soenen in the face with a fish or something? I suspect her comment was not meant exactly way it sounds, but this is what comes of learning to talk “corp-speak”.

      • Thanks for your comment John.

        Seeing as VII as an agency have no problem with members being photojournalists and working on campaigns for the arms industry (as Ron Haviv, is/has done) I think they have bigger questions to answer themselves than photo manipulation. Disapointing if this didn’t come up in the discussion as it was what prompted VII into saying they were going to hold a debate.

        I totally agree that we (audiences) should dispense with the idea of neutrality of objectivity.

    • I wrote about this theme and the different approaches. It will take some time, I recommend a beer.
      http://hernanzenteno.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/altered-states-photojournalism-integrity-and-the-modern-world/

    • Thanks John. If someone found some written extract of these event, please let us know. I can’t catch spoken english well.