This is, more or less, what we know:
(?) but inevitable exodus towards electronic media is
taking place. Even though the paper made of wood is being
transformed into electronic-ink paper, and is still called
paper, the fact is that this is one of the new forms
that will be adopted by computer screens. We are talking
about e-ink, iPhone, pad, computer, TV, flat screen or
projector, we better get used to the idea that these will
be the means through which information will be disseminated,
and these will be the places where photography will continue
exponential growth of the number of photos taken by
people in every kind of way since the advent of the Digital
Revolution –digital cameras, cell phones,
etc- has caused photography to invade every corner of the
planet, and has helped the ongoing evolution of the capacity
to see, create, judge and reevaluate the use and importance
of still photography.
2007 © Perceptive
spite of the emergence of new visual expression media,
such as TV, cinema and the Internet, photography has maintained
its validity and despite the constant complaints about
the “death of photojournalism” there are more
and more photographs being published.
Holy Grail of the use of photography in a journalistic
or documentary context has been the "Photo Essay".
In other words, the intention of using more than one image
to build a story. W. Eugene Smith continues to be the main
referent, and even though it is not necessary to copy the
structure of his stories, there are some concepts that
remain valid, and that explain why the photographers are
still trying to get them published.
is too obvious and needs no further explanation; a single
image is not enough to explain a complex subject. Not
all the pictures have the same “value”,
due to their form, or their contents. As the title says, “size
matters”, and it matters a great deal. Each image
needs an ideal size to express itself. Gursky’s “99
cents” needs to be seen in the wall of a museum,
an image by Nachtwey is perfectly fine in a magazine,
an ID photography looks good in a passport.
Cent II, Diptych” Andreas Gursky.
story, whatever the media –text, cinema, TV, music-
has a dramatic structure. It has a beginning and an end,
emphasis, relevant and not-so-relevant elements; central
subject matters and peripheral subject matters, characters,
climates, etc. All of them are tools used by the storyteller
to convey what he or she is trying to say, in a better
and more effective manner.
addition, in visual media, the layout and design, play
a chief role: a double homepage, different sized photos,
more than one picture per page and the relation between
captions, downloads, epigraphs, main text and the images.
All of these elements, when used properly, help to realize
the full potential of each one of them.
the current paper-based platform, either in magazines
or in newspapers, the struggle for space is vital. There
is not a lot of it, it is expensive and has to be shared
both with the text to be completed, and with advertising,
and frequently they are in opposition. This
was the state of affairs before the Internet. Suddenly,
an unexpected space opened up, a virtual place that no
one had foreseen, a new platform to show our images,
and full of possibilities.
look very good on screen. The other alternatives, such
as e-ink, are still on an early stage, but without question,
we will get to a point in which images will be reproduced
with the highest quality. On the other hand, the cost
of uploading one or several pictures is exactly the same.
don’t have to compete with advertising; they
dwell on their own space. The only limit (apart from connection
speed, another thing that continues to increase) is creativity.
far, the experience is almost discouraging. There is
more quantity, but this doesn’t mean more quality.
The aesthetics of slide projection remains unsurpassed.
We still have to endure a slideshow similar to the vacation
pictures of a relative; every picture has the same size,
the same value and the same time on screen.
at a photo is a “willful” action,
and the time one decides to spend in each picture is decisive.
One stops, enters into it, tries to read it, to understand
it, to make discoveries. Information has to be deciphered. This
triggers ideas and feelings, and carves them into our memory.
The power of the still image is summed up here. In an attempt
to enhance storytelling, audio and video have been added
in the Internet. Sometimes it works, but sometimes is like
a reinvention of television. And the linear, automated
structure of the narration, most of the time prevents us
from stopping to contemplate an image that appeals to us
more than others. Of course, this can be done, but it interrupts
the development of the story, and this surely does not
happen with a reader.
when speaking about the reinvention of TV, I can’t
understand the idea of photographers becoming TV cameramen
to narrate their stories in a new medium: the interactive
newspaper. It’s not that exploring new media of expression
is wrong, what is not comprehensible is that there are
people advising photographers to abandon photography, which
is twice as strange when these people are photographers
To conclude, the use of images is no longer done in relation
to a text but to audio and video, which can be interesting,
but definitely more ephemeral. In reality, the enriching
experience of the interaction between text and image has
been set aside: the understanding of certain subject matters
requires text, and if the text interacts with interesting,
powerful and clarifying images, the stories that need to
be told can reach their full potential.
is the task of programmers, designers, editors, photographers
and writers. We have to re-think the use of photography
in the new media. We must find other ways to tell our
stories, to go beyond a sequence of images. We have to
work in the editing, to know where to accentuate, to construct
a narration, to make the reader participate.
Photography is going through a moment of extraordinary
expansion, but if we do not put it in its rightful place,
its use in the media will be reduced to mere ornaments
of web pages or emasculated versions of TV shows.
Goldberg. Argentinean photographer who
has been represented worldwide by the Corbis
Agency since 1974. He lived in Paris, France
and New York City for several years. His career
spans form photojournalism to illustration
work and industrial photography.