working class hero

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by blow, Mar 29, 2006.

  1. blow

    blow Member

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    I dont know if this is the right sub forum to post this, but I didn´t find any other.
    I would like to know a few photographer´s experiences in finding jobs. Im no professional but I think I have what it takes to work in the documentary area, for any kind of publication (papers, magazines, inet). What are the steps ethicly speaking, for introducing yourself in the working circle? I mean what should I do in the first place?

    thanks
     
  2. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Hmmm. Making money at photography - what a pleasant thought. :wink:

    I guess my first suggestion would be to contact the newspapers and other short-cycle publishers in your area to see what their needs are. Few magazines have actual staff photographers, and the business models of short-cycle, specialist magazines (the "Your City" types of magazines) will likely vary between geographic areas. Then, decide whether you want to or need to move to a different area based on photo-related employment possibilities.

    I think you'll find, however, that the old-style documentary/photojournalism market is largely dead. There was a recent thread here about volunteer documentary photography that you might find interesting.
     
  3. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    http://www.daysjapan.net/e/

    If you want to break into the field of photojournalism, try this Japanese magazine. Its annual photo competition is open for anyone with a body of work, and that's just an opportunity to start.

    The bottom line is to come up with the reportage first and sell it later, not the other way around.
     
  4. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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  5. blow

    blow Member

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    I see, I see. Well thanks a lot for your comments. Im really sad about this conception of photojournalism being dead and all. Its not at all what I think, I mean, probably it was like that 10 years ago, but now its imperative to bring it to life once more.
    There´s some much going on and so many people misinformed.

    rot r
     
  6. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

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    When I was in university, beside taking pics for my university's two papers, I took pics for local community rags. These were usually non-profit small circulation papers and it was all voluntary. They supplied film sometimes and maybe even paid for a luch or two. I didn't care for the money so much as the experience and the practice.

    I then did some freelance work for the city paper. To get that job, I had to submit pics in the hope one would get published. I submitted a pic of man pinned under a car during a water main break. The car was swept by the water and trapped this poor guy. Several people were already at the scene trying unpin the guy and the fire truck was about 200 feet away by the time I came across the incident. I had my trusty Pentax with me and snapped away, since there was absolutely nothing else I could have done. Rushed to the darkroom and then rushed to the paper with prints in hand. I think I made $25 for those pics.

    A friend who works in the editing department of Conde Nast tell me today, you have to either team up with a writer or do some writing yourself and come up with a theme. Have the pics and the story for submission and hope it gets picked up.

    Regards, Art.
     
  7. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    There is more need than ever, but the social NEED does not create a market.

    It was the 'media business' that drove the profession into extinction. What is left is a niche. How you mine that sliver of a vein is up to you.

    You aren't alone. Where do you reside ?
     
  8. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    http://www.viiphoto.com/LAseminar/

    If you can fly to LA next month, there's a seminar coming up, featuring the members of VII photo agency. I think these photographers are a little too privileged today to be your "working-class heros", but it's still an opportunity to meet them in person anyway. Or you might have to find a simlar event in your area and attend it with your portfolio.

    But the thing is, you could make good connections with people, but that might not be leading you to any employment opportunity right away. So, if you really have to do something right now, have your work ready and contact the places you want to reach. If you have to start from scratch, then grab a camera and hit the road.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi blow

    you might consider getting 10-15 of your strongest photographs in a portfolio and going to the publications near where you live. i worked as a staffer for a local business newspaper for about 3 years. the money is about as pathetic as you can imagine, BUT on every job you meet a potential client.

    it is a tough market to break into, so as charlotte the pig said "chin-up" :wink:

    good luck!
    john
     
  10. Nacio Jan Brown

    Nacio Jan Brown Member

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    I think we are haunted by a romantic vision of the "photojournalist." The now long dead picture weeklies, Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, etc. are gone and they're not coming back. The thing about them was that *everyone,* from blue collar workers to society's elite, subscribed. They were a ubiquitous common currency of most of the population of the US. Also, they stayed around the house for at least a week, and most often a lot longer than that. What a venue for the photo-essay! Nothing like it exists today. The internet is too vast and it's hard to imagine that any single site will ever approaching having the number of viewers of the picture weeklies. Even if it did the website visit would be brief compared to looking at a magazine and then later picking it up and flipping through it again. The market for books is primarily an art market. So, of course, are gallery and museum walls. So what's left? I can't think of anything that even remotely qualifies as an outlet for potentially effective, socially conscious photojournalism.
     
  11. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    If you're sick and tired of CNN, BBC, and NYT, try:

    http://www.democracynow.org/

    In the last few years, it's grown so rapidly, and I think that says something about what it takes to be an ideal place for journalism today.
     
  12. blow

    blow Member

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    thanks a lot for your comments once more, they gave me ideas and more important, directions.
    and thanks firecracker for the LA tip, unfortunately Im really far at the moment, living in Berlin and with no much money in my pockets.
    Its seems to me that specially in the area where most of you live (northamerica) there is this kind of non-future for journalism at all, i mean, the media is so manipulated by the big neo-capitalist people and enterprices that there´s no much hope to break into it or even become an alternative voice or ilustration. I dont know its just an idea, here in Berlin there´s a lot of movement regarding photography, but Im still not sure wether its on a "elite level".

    s
     
  13. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The power of the press is a wonderful idea. All you need is a press.

    The concurrence of post-modernism's devaluation of the worth of an image
    with the popular culture's insatiable apetite for celebrity have wiped the marketplace clean from one ideological end to the other.

    There is no market for the truth, not in Berlin, Los Angeles, or Tokyo.

    And so, no way to make the barest of incomes from photojournalism.

    As a result, many superb photographers are working for little, or no, pay to document what is going on in the world today... so there will be a record.

    If you want to begin to do the same, begin.

    .
     
  14. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    blow, I actually live in the rural part of Japan not far from Kyoto. I'm not even part of urban life. But I used to live in the U.S. for a number of years and got my education and work method there. And more or less, from time to time, I feel the same as you do. I'm not a pro, but I feel the urge to take photographs of what others don't.

    So, in the last few years, I've found my photojournalistic subject to be the aftermath of natural disasters. Japan is a land full of all kinds of catastrophe, and it's small enough to travel around, dedicate myself as a volunteer to work in the disaster relief operations, and document what's going on. It's something I learned by taking advantages of my geographical location.

    I cannot do this all the time, but when I can, I do. I kind of pick up the scenes what the big media intentionally and systematically misses out. But that part of my photo portfolio is still too small to show in public.

    Good luck with your work.

    firecracker
     
  15. childers-jk

    childers-jk Member

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    I am really new here, but I wanted to ask the question. Is there a market for a magazine dedicated to these types of "photo essay" type stories? I mean a group like this that is derived from people all over the world would have the resources of those people to draw from. Perhaps maybe not a print mag, but an ezine? I know this is OT, but I thought I would ask.

    Jeff C.
     
  16. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Hi, Jeff C. I'm not aware of any. "Days Japan" I mentioned earlier is a quasi-photojournalism magazine as far as I know: It's very slim and like a news collage with small pieces of articles and purchased news agencies photos all assembled togather to run their picture stories. By today's standard in practicing journalism, it's a big no-no and so un-ethical, but that tells me that that's how it survives as a small publication, and it needs to grow.

    I think, instead using magazines, some people self-publish books with their own photo-essays and hope to sell.
     
  17. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Self publishing is ABSOLUTELY possible.
    And desirable.

    An e-zine, or bloggy-zine, which could be puchased as a .pdf,
    or a download in book form from Lulu or something like that
    is very possible.

    Grants and gifts and contibutions can fund it.

    The only trick is the need to keep the costs low.

    That would suggest reporting on local issues,
    because the expense of travel will exceed the costs of production.
    Or, you can focus your travel to serve the need of your Journal.

    I've designed one to do when I retire from commercial work in a couple years.
    I know of a couple others in the planning stages.

    Small, specific, journals can be done beautifully and effectively.
    Possibly they can do some good.

    Get off your butt and make some stories.

    .
     
  18. childers-jk

    childers-jk Member

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    I like the idea of local stories put together by people who are interested in telling the story. This was sort of my reaction to this thread by Blow. But what to do with the story when it is done? This is where I think there could be a niche for the "old school" or "retro" style photo magazine, i.e. LIFE, etc. There could be an oppurtunity for this type of endvor, especaill given the rush of "retro" or vintage styles today.

    I like the idea of an ezine, but in the spirit of analog photography and film based caputre, I think an old style magazine would be the perfect complement. Any thoughts?

    I must apoloigze to Blow for hijacking this thread.
     
  19. mgphoto

    mgphoto Subscriber

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    Breaking into photojournalism/editorial photogpraphy is very much a "what you can produce" and "who you know" market.

    1) What you can produce: I can't tell you how many portfolio's I've reviewed from photographers wanting to "break into photojournalism" that are chock full dull landscapes and and or abstract "fine art photos". Unfortunately, these folks never get a call back. Newspaper/magazine photo editors want to see images of people! People in a variety of situations that convey something (no matter how small) about the person or situation surrounding them. This doesn't have to be war victims and car accidents (please, no more photos of car wrecks! No one wants to see them anymore). I have seen portfolios that contain nothing but images of someone's friends and family that absolutely blew me away! Being able to show versatility and convey emotion is crucial. If you are considering submitting images on spec, be very careful. This is a good way to get taken advantage of.
    And getting published for "photo credit" is great once or twice but it's very easy to gain a rep as "the guy (or girl) willing to give their stuff away for nothing.

    2) Who you know: Getting your stuff out there is only one part of it. Getting to know people in the business is essential because these are the folks that can get your stuff in front of the RIGHT people. Look at the work of photographers in your area that are doing the kind of stuff you are interested in. See if it would be possible for you to "shadow" them for a day or hell, ask them out to coffee. You'd be surprised how many working photographers are willing to share some of their experience. Chances are, someone gave them a break when they first started.

    Also, consider joining the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). It's not very expensive ($90.00 a year and that includes a subscription to News Photographer Magazine, the organizations highly respected monthly publication) The NPPA is the oldest association for photojournalists in the US and you don't have to "qualify" to join. You just need to have an interest in the profession. You can find a lot of information from organizations like the NPPA, ASMP, and EP (Editorial Photographers). Their websites contain a wealth of info about the business, journalistic ethics, etc.
    For reference, those websites are: www.nppa.org, www.asmp.org, and www.editorialphoto.com. In fact, EP has a great little page on "starting out" with advice from top shooters in the biz. Here's the link: http://www.editorialphoto.com/resources/startingout.asp

    Cheers,
    Mark
     
  20. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Last night I was watching a series of old short documentaries produced by Japan's national public broadcasting company, NHK, and I was pretty stunned. They were so well made and far better than the ones in the recent years. I couldn't believe they were TV documentaries.

    In the mid-60's, there were environmental pollution and contamination problems in a small industrial city Yokkaichi, west of Nagoya. Back then, there's hardly any strict law to protect the environment, and a number of companies, despite all the claims and complaints from the city and its residents, kept blowing black smoke in the air and dumping chemicals right into the Yokkaichi bay.

    The people there were suffering from asthma heavily and a more than a thousand were hospitalized. The local fishermen were worried because the water was so smelly, and they were getting funny dead fish there. So, they got together, sued the companies, and won the case, the first criminal case against air pollution, according to the documentaries.

    Among them, there was a man, I think he was a local government employee, who was in charge of recording the events, took his camera, started snapping pictures with his own interest. Later his photos were published as a book, which turned out to be the rare visual record for this part of the history in his city because as time went by, in the early 90's the city dropped its support for the victims of this environmental catastrophe.

    He's no W. Eugene Smith, but some of his shots had as much impact on me as the shots from Minamata by the famous photorapher. I'm glad that I've found the local guy, and I live in the next town.

    It was clear that some people in the city wanted to forget it and move on. They just wanted to not talk about it any more. But the story doesn't end there.

    What is really ironic today is that one of the companies from that time period has committed a crime again. This time, this comany took a different approach by secretly mixing its undisposable toxic waste into a product and selling it as a soil fertilizer. What's worse is that the local prefectual government had approved the product and helped the company to sell it more.

    At least in four locations in the surrounding area, this fake product has been used, and it is contaminating the environment. By the way this is not part of the documentaries but something I read in the newspaper.

    Overall, what was essentially good about these documentaries was that they were partly shot black and white on 16mm motion-picture film (that was the standard before color film and video), and the contrast between the local residents' houses and the thick black smoke coming out of the chemical plants was so vivid and perhaps memorable. And the use of a telephoto zoom lens with a shallow depth of field made the subjects in each shot look very close to each other as if the old part and the new part of the community were so inseparable.

    Anyway, I got a lot out of those one and a half hours last night before I went to sleep.
     
  21. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Guten Tag blow,

    Berlin should not be too much different from other major cities, at least on a news and journalism level. I think it is still a noble profession, though somewhat decimated by conglomerates placing too much control over Rights to Images (copyright), or just using poor judgement (too many celebrity features). You can read a little about the industry, so I will give you some resources:

    http://www.dirkhalstead.org/ - try to find the commentaries about the industry, especially rights issues, anything about Sygma, Corbis, or Getty. You can pass on any articles about gear.

    http://www.poynter.org/ - The Poynter Institute is involved in educating journalists and discussing current issues and ethics. Some of this will not be relevant to photography, though still a good source.

    http://www.magnumphotos.com/ - this is for inspiration.

    http://www.lookat.ch/ - more inspiration, but lesser known names. Many of these photographers do longer term projects. You might find some good approaches here.

    Likely you heard of Magnum, though maybe not LookAt. The former is famous and doing well, while the later is now struggling despite good work. This is an industry where a few big names thrive in a realm largely controlled by AP, AFP, Reuters, Corbis and Getty, the last two large corporations that have bought out many other former great small news photography organizations.

    You need to realize that it could be very tough, but if you stick with it you will find it rewarding at times. I do commercial imaging, not photojournalism, though I understand the industry due to frequent contacts. I have done some documentary work, and some videography in the past; enough to know that my passion was more in creating than documenting.

    It would help you a great deal to learn how to write. Covering a story is more than just the images. You need to have captions that can go to print, or even better a good story to go with the images. The purpose of images in news is to get people to slow down their browsing and read.

    Don't worry about budget and equipment too much. All you need is one reliable camera, some film, and a way of observing. The rest will be how you express a creative vision. I wish you luck with this.

    Ciao!

    Gordon
     
  22. blow

    blow Member

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    Jesus! that´s a lot of interesting info. THANKS !!
    Now im just doing what someone said (or maybe more than one) about working by myself in a little story "arround the corner" and prepare a interesting folio.
    Also I find that of writing your own stories attached to the photo-series fundamental, so I must work a bit harder in my german.. anyway, I hope to upload eventually my work to these web to read some opinions by you, fellows dinosaurs-of-clickin´ (in the best of the ways)..
    noch mal Danke schön !!
     
  23. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Wonderful !