Thursday, 8 May 2008

Queuing on the "off ramp" of Photojournalism

Of course some are pushed and some jump but too many are gone just the same. The paradox of British photojournalism is that the quality, experimentalism and breadth of it are increasing exponentially and the outlets for getting the work seen are disappearing just as quickly.

Because of this, many seasoned experienced and passionate photographers are trying to find other uses for the skills they have accrued. Most do so in the hopes that a better income will allow them to self-finance the projects they can no longer get commissioned. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions and after a while many decide that the projects are interfering with the paid work.

Even the best publications are struggling to stay solvent and relevant. Many have given up the latter as a lost cause!

So what to do?

Well the good news is that documentary photography and journalism (both still and moving image) have caught fire in the UK over the last few years. There is a genuine audience (if that is is not a mixed metaphor) both for the kind of high standard Press Photography that Britain has always produced and also for the creative approach to social documentary that runs through recent UK exhibitions.

We have an interesting convergence as new exciting techniques are emerging for those who want to communicate visually and the tools needed to take advantage are becoming more affordable.

It will take a while for newspapers to realise that the level of interest and understanding in photography amongst their readers is often very sophisticated and certainly more advanced than they credit. Some of these organisations will doubtless die before they learn their lessons.

In the meantime, their loss is becoming commercial photography's gain as flexible, enthusiastic photojournalists decide that most of our traditional publications are at best, an "orbital motorway" rather than "the road to the promised land!"

The junction is coming up and I'm in the inside lane, indicating for the next exit!