What Ails Photojournalism: Part IV

(Continued…) Many predicting the death of the newspaper are wrong.  It will not die.  It will change.  The newspaper will become something different, its content will not compete with the internet, but complement it.  It will be read differently, and it will not just be on your mobile phone.  It will be everywhere, and all sorts of media will continue to play a part.  Video has many limitations, not the least of which is that it has to be seen end to end and anything longer than a minute or two is taxing and difficult to concentrate on on a tiny hand held device.

So there are a lot of issues and obstacles even in the new world.  Books are still around because they are cheaper, easier to carry, easier to store, easier to retrieve and share than anything technology has offered so far.  I am willing to bet that the book will survive a long time.

The sky is not falling.  Its colors are changing.

i think people like Anderson complaining about lack of editorial opportunities or credibility of amateurs are missing the point.

We are indeed facing change, but it is also an opportunity.  However, to find the opportunity we have to stop repeating the cliches of the camera industry or video industry, or those selling video journalism workshops and all the rest interested in selling us new toys.  We have to start to recognize that the economics has changed, that the previous outlets that kept us satiated are no longer able to do so for financial reasons.  that new toys, new software, sound along with pictures, is not the essential answer.  That media storm does not know what the future is going to be, that just because you have video, audio and text will not really make you a star.  Those who are doing better today are the ones who were doing better in the past anyways.  assuming a greater creative and editorial and also cost burden may make it interesting for a magazine/newspaper occasionally, but its an unsustainable model.  media storm stories cost a lot of money, and use a lot of resources, and take a long time to produce.

In the end, it is the big boys of news that will continue to thrive here.  And if you want to play with them, then you will have to fit into their structure somehow.

This piece sees photojournalism as an autonomous craft.  It is not.  It was from its birth intimately tied to the economics of publications.  When photographers challenged these they were left to starve.  Look at Eugene Smith’s career.  Now, finally, we are able to liberate ourselves from this stiffing, suffocating environment.  Now, finally, photojournalists can free themselves to be something beyond mere picture takers for ready-made stories or hacked together propaganda.  Its a brave new world complete with uncertainty and possibilities.

I say this as I sit here and stare into the void – confident that I have strong new ideas, scared that no one will value them, determined that i have no choice but to step into the void itself.  Your second reference about ‘tenacity’ was right on the mark.  Like any field where you pursue a passion a love and a need to be free of the machinery of the capitalist, you must be prepared to pay a heavy price.  Our societies do not value those who do not serve the interests of others, but merely their own whims, curiousities, loves and fears.

By the way, in conclusion; i am wrong in all that i say!

We are all wrong.  We cannot predict what will happen tomorrow.  We can only look at the facts in our face.  I am wrong.  I will be proven wrong and that is just fine.  What i am not prepared to do is to accept the incomplete justifications for known realities.  It is too easy and too unthinking.  Simply telling me that photojournalism is dead, long live citizen journalism, is nonsense.  There is no such thing as citizen journalism.  Citizens are not journalists – it denigrates the works of real journalists.  Citizens can only be bystanders, or witnesses to random events.  They cannot analyze, help us understand, nor can they be expected to follow up and follow through.  They cannot and will not investigate, pursue, search, question and create a context.

phew, and a good morning to you all!

asim

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From “Headmen” To “Hitmen”–A People Brutalised Yet Again

Another photographer turns up at another manufactured ‘traditional’ geography, and produces another set of racist, reductive and entirely fake set of images. I don’t mean ‘fake’ in the way that most photographer’s get all concerned about. I mean ‘fake’ in a much more serious way, one that reduces people to social, political and historical caricatures and makes them into concocted objects for class titillation and voyeurism. And this American magazine–mired deep in the heart of American imperialism, its violence and its brutality–publishes the images and accompanies them with what can only be described as one of the most incredibly ahistorical, obfuscatory and infantile articles I have read outside of stuff frequently published by Time Magazine and/or The New York Times.

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Thomas Sankara’s Restless Children

The project is now complete. Although, we may never really complete the telling of this remarkable story. You can see the project by clicking on this link here, or on the image below.


Eyes Of Aliyah–Deport, Deprive, Extradite Initiative By Nisha Kapoor

I have publicly and on this forum very explicitly argued against the strange ‘disappearance’ of black/brown bodies that are the actual targets and victims of our ‘liberal’ state policies of surveillance, entrapment, drone assassinations, renditions and indefinite detention. I recently argued:

“Western visual journalism, and visual artists, have erased the actual victims of the criminal policies of the imperial state. Instead, most all have chosen to produce a large array of projects examining drone attacks, surveillance, detentions and other practices, through the use of digital abstractions, analogous environments, still life work or just simply the fascinating and enticing safety of datagrams and charts. Even a quick look at recent exhibitions focusing on the ‘war on terror’ or wars in general, have invited works that use digital representations of war, or focus on the technologies of war. An extreme case of this deflection are recent projects on drone warfare that not only avoid the actual brown/black bodies that are the targets of deadly drone attacks, but are not even produced anywhere near the geographies and social ecologies where drone attacks continue to happen! Yet, these works have found tremendous popularity, though i remain confused what kinds of conversations or debates they provoke given that the voices of the families of those who have been killed, are not only entirely missing, but people who can raised the difficult questions about the lies and propaganda that are used to justify the killings, are also entirely missing.”

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Public Release of “The Sinner”

This is my first feature length documentary film and we–Justice Project Pakistan, with the guiding support of Sarah BelalRimmel Mohydin and others at Justice Project Pakistan, are finally releasing it.

And we are doing it first in Pakistan.

The film takes us into the world of capital punishment in Pakistan through the life of one man; Jan Masi. Jan Masi worked as an execution for nearly 30 years, and claims to have executed over 1800 people. He started his work in the enthusiastic pursuit of revenge for the execution of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

This isn’t a typical documentary film. No talking heads. No linear story-telling. No polemics or moral grand standing. No righteous exclamations against capital punishment. Instead, Jan Masi, his life, his scars, his fears and despair, act as metaphors for the meaning of capital punishment in Pakistan, and the consequences it has on the broader Pakistani society.

Sudhir Patwardhan

Sudhir Patwardhan.

Can you discover ‘an influence’ after the fact?

What do you call someone who seems to embody your eye, your sensibility, and yet you had never seen his / her work, and yet, when you now see it, you see the ‘influence’…the similarities?

Is he confronting the same questions? Is he seeing this incredibly complex and multi-layered world with the same desire to depict it as close to that complexity as possible?

I was taken aback. The aesthetic pursuit is so familiar. It is as if he is a step ahead of me. He is a step ahead of me.

I am going through these images–gorgeous, striking, unique, and no, I refuse to give you some ‘European’ reference to understand them in any way. They are Patwardhan’s and his alone. But I want to make them as photographs.

They are the photographs I would make if in Mumbai. It is beautiful stuff. It makes me want to go and make photographs.

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Make It Right For Palestine, November 4, 2017

Be there. Hyde Park. Speaker’s Corner. London. 12:00 noon. 4th November, 2017.

The Polis Project…Is Up And Running

If you can’t join them, then just do it on your own.

We launched a new collective focused on research, reportage and resistance. The specific goals and objectives are being developed as we speak, but the idea is a simple one: to collect under one banner a group of individuals from different fields – artists, writers, academics, photographers, intellectuals, poets and others, who are consistently working against the grain. In this time of collective conformity, and a media sycophancy to power and extremism, some of us felt the need to create a small space where people are still determined to refuse the agendas of political power, debilitating capitalism, nationalist extremism and neoliberal idiocy, and remain fools in their hearts, and idealists in their souls.

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Short Doc: “As If A Nightmare”;The Story Of Former Bagram Prisoner Abdul Haleem Saifullah

 

We are commemorating 9/11 this week, but by remembering the ‘other’ victims of that event that few chose to remember. These are the brown bodies that rarely make it into visual media projects, that since 9/11, have chosen to hide behind digital representations, data charts, and other visual forms that do a lot, but never permit us to see or hear the brown and black people who actually suffer the consequences of drone attacks, sweeping surveillance, targeted entrapment, renditions, indefinite detentions, torture and other forms of inhumanity that today liberal minds seem to be able to easily justify.

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Short Doc: “Prisoner 1432” – The Story of Former Bagram Prisoner Amanatullah Ali

 

We are commemorating 9/11 this week, but by remembering the ‘other’ victims of that event that few chose to remember. These are the brown bodies that rarely make it into visual media projects, that since 9/11, have chosen to hide behind digital representations, data charts, and other visual forms that do a lot, but never permit us to see or hear the brown and black people who actually suffer the consequences of drone attacks, sweeping surveillance, targeted entrapment, renditions, indefinite detentions, torture and other forms of inhumanity that today liberal minds seem to be able to easily justify.

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10 Things To Consider…

I recommend that photographers, photojournalists, documentary photographers remember these wise words by Tania Canas, RISE Arts Director / Member – I am copying and pasting it here. As brown and black bodies are stripped of their clothing, as brown and black children are dehumanised to mere misery, as brown and black women are reduced to simply victims, as ghettos and brothels and refugee camps and slums become the ‘paint by number’ formula for White photographer’s career and publishing success, it becomes increasingly important that those of us on the receiving end of White ‘largesse’ begin to build obstacles, speak back, and refuse / reject these ‘representations’ and their reductive, violent and brutal narrative frames. We have lost too much, and are in danger of whatever little we have left as humans and as histories, if we permit this process to continue.

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