Thursday, 22 May 2008

The same old shit again?

On my way to photograph the woman above I stopped into a bookstore/cafe to pick up a coffee. On one of the displays was the book I've been waiting for since the winners were announced a while ago; World Press Photo '08! Go and get your copy now, pronto.

Legendary snapper Gary Knight, also chairman of the WPP jury, puts in his foreword: "A principal purpose of the World Press Photo contest is to celebrate great achievements in press photography, and it is disappointing that so much of what was submitted was familiar. One wonders why some photojournalists spend their time and energy telling us what we already know, in a style borrowed from another photographer". Harsh words indeed, but they also needs to be told. Photojournalism is considered to be in a bit of a crisis right now, with shrinking budgets and competing new media cited as main factors to this decline. But what he really is saying that as PJ's we need to develop our own vision and go with it, not give in to recreating pictures that have worked in the past, to constantly push the boundaries of visual journalism. Not all assignments can be done in radically different way, but if you don't strive for development you end up with stagnation and risk losing your audience.

Anyway, the woman I was going to photograph is called Gina and had just completed six marathons in six days. She is 63 years old. Over the weekend she is running two more marathons. In total she has now done 278, and is soon of to South Africa to run the Comrades, a nice little 56 mile jog.

Picture: perfect example of a familiar image in a borrowed style! But its not WPP photojournalism, its a portrait of Gina, so hopefully Gary Knight will spare me this time.

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