Meta-narrative: Fred Ritchin on the future of photojournalism
Ensuring the future of photojournalism rests in more complex narrative formats, believes Fred Ritchin, who spoke with Laurence Butet-Roch ahead of the release of his new essay, Bending the Frame
As the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper was making plans to lay off its entire photography staff, Fred Ritchin was putting the final touches to his latest opus, Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen. Keenly aware of the current dismal state of traditional media, the former picture editor of The New York Times Magazine and professor of photography and imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts prefaces his essay with 16 questions and two pages full of interrogations about the future of news – photography in particular.
Looking at a world where “image-making has become a form of communication nearly as banal, instinctive and pervasive as talking”, Ritchin asks: “Do we need – even more than we need photographers – metaphotographers who are capable of sorting through some of the billions of images now available, adding their own and contextualising all of them so they become more useful, more complex and more visible?” In other words: “How does today’s image-maker create meaningful media?”
I am not sure I know what metaphotographers are…..
To say that the wealth of images found online is overwhelming is an understatement. Absolute numbers are difficult to aggregate but, according to Fortune magazine, 10 percent of all the photographs ever taken were shot in 2011. The following year, while the Pew Research Center reported that 46 percent of American adult internet users post original photos or videos online, Facebook announced that seven petabytes – that is six zeros more than a gigabyte – of new photos were added to its servers every month. This equates to roughly 300 million images posted every day on Facebook alone. And according to Yahoo!’s estimation, in 2014 alone more than 880 billion images will be taken.
Nowadays, photojournalists – competing for what little work is left – are under extreme pressure to produce an arresting double-page spread at low cost and in a short space of time. “What this does is reduce the visual vocabulary,” says Ritchin. “For example, references to the Madonna holding a child keep coming up in all kinds of pictures because it is recognisable.” Recently, it was Samuel Aranda’s photograph, which won the World Press Photo Award in 2012, of a Yemeni mother cradling her son suffering from the effects of tear gas that was compared to a modern-day Pietà. A few months later, Edouard Elias’ image of a wounded Syrian man was likened to the Deposition of Christ. However effective these images are, their recurrence may well eventually tire the viewer.
Yes this is an interesting article certainly worth ten minutes of your time….READ MORE HERE
Photographer Balazs Gardi co-created the experimental media project Basetrack, which documents the deployment of the 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines, at Combat Outpost 7171 in Helmand, Afghanistan. Image © Balazs Gardi / Basetrack.org
Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen, by Fred Ritchin, is published by Aperture; www.aperture.org.
Read more: http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/interview/2286634/metanarrative-fred-ritchin-on-the-future-of-photojournalism#ixzz2bNlOW1Ui
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