VII photographers in conversation at the Frontline Club
Rarely in one room, the founder members if VII came together for one night to ponder Questions Without Answers.
Founder members Gary Knight, Christopher Morris, John Stanmeyer and newish recruit Lynsey Addario feature in the video above, talking about the early days of VII and the evolving nature of photojournalism as they see it. It’s fascinating to hear their stories first hand.
VII photo’s CEO Stephen Mayes on the future of photo journalism
This interview with VII Photos boss in was really interesting to read as well. Stephen Mayes touches on a number of issues that I am going to research in more depth, in my Masters Research Project, where I’ll be looking at how NGO photograph has changed since 2000. And how the ubiquity of images, and access to images and multimedia through new technology (ie: smart phones) has changed the NGO section.
In the interview Stephen talks about being mission driven, how audio is changing everything and the need for a good smart-phone.
He’s basically saying that “people’s consumption of photography has changed enormously“, and “what’s happened in the last 10 years is that our audience has grown more online and particularly people who are actively interested in a subject are able to find what we’re doing more easily.“
Which is of course all pretty obvious. The effects however are not necessarily so obvious. Photojournalism is always also about how meaning is constructed, how was is seen, is framed and embedded in the audience. Stephen goes on to say that “Photography looks subjective but of course it isn’t. It’s always an interpretive medium. One of the things that Questions Without Answers does is that it gives the photographer that little bit of space to express the issue as they see it, the way they see the world in what they choose to cover and how that has changed over the years.”
Mayes sees VII’s main challenge not to change the content but to change the context – taking the story out of its original context, which was magazines newspapers and the like, and showing it to a different audience, giving it a different frame in which to understand the work.
It’s an interesting notion, because it does relate to this creation of meaning. If the same images are not seen in a newspaper as “news” but in an art book, how does that affect the meaning of these images? Or do they (and with them “The pain of others”) become art that might even be collectible? Big questions.
An on usages of technology, Mayes says that “the smartphone is having a huge effect on the way photojournalists work. Partly because of the mobility of it, partly because of the invisibility of it. If you’re a photo journalist in a sensitive area nobody pays much attention if you pull out a phone.”
“And of course the aesthetic it brings with it is also very different. Different format filters are applied. It’s something that’s so very current, it’s very now we don’t know quite where it’s going and very definitely changing the way we work. We are producing cell phone pictures and they’re being published both in print and online.”
So we are seeing different techniques and different aesthetics that are impacting the representation of others but…
“…to be honest I have to say I’m not seeing a different kind of picture. I say unfortunately because a lot of the same kind of stuff keeps happening.” Thats to say the same old human issues come around, the way they are embedded, see, consumed is changing however.
“As the internet has developed over the last 10 years. There has been a desire for video. What I would say to that is that what’s happening with mainstream photography is that it’s becoming much more about experience than documenting. It’s about sharing current experience and rather than creating a document for record there is something very different about posting an image on Facebook and either making an album of your family that sits around for years, or creating a document in a journalistic archive which is then referenced as evidence of history. Posting images on Facebook becomes this stream where tomorrow it’s gone, in the next hour even it’s gone. It’s just about participating in the moment so it’s a very different form of coverage. But again it doesn’t replace the old.”