Ali’s Place Bill Peronneau
Sleepers David Prêtre
Uncovered Véronique Rolland
Iron People Alfredo D’Amato
Good Fellas Francesco Cito
The Mourmelon Affair Jean-Baptiste Duchenne
Centre Bounce Jesse Marlow
Serçavan Felicitas Kruse
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
The fearful are caught as often as the bold.
Faith alone defends.”
HELEN KELLER 1880–1968
We all have our own faiths and beliefs to guide us. If you are reading this magazine the chances are that, amongst many things, you have a faith in photography and you believe in photojournalism’s ability to enlighten and move you. Photojournalism is realised when photographers cease to avoid danger and strive to make a bold statement with their work. The dangers they expose themselves to in the process are not just physical but can also be financial and even social. For example; who these days will finance a photographer to document the ongoing genocide in Congo or Laos? How is a person able to reconcile their dedication to telling stories like these, that I feel matter, with participation in our modern day society so dominated by consumerism and celebrity?
In the essay in this issue Colin Jacobson reminds us that photojournalism requires hard work, talent, commitment and comes with no promise of financial reward. Yet today we see art galleries and book publishers co-opting the language of photojournalism and re-writing it with values of their own. The goal here of the art community is to idolise the individual, to proclaim the artist a master and their work a masterpiece, so that it may command a high price.
Photography undertaken in this arena is inward looking and hides behind a fear of being exposed. It seeks appreciation and patronage and does little to confront or question. The photographer looks within and designs an image that serves primarily to advertise themself. This kind of photography is not journalistic. It exists on the surface of a wall or page alone, without integrity and lacking committment. Its sense of purpose is not clear and the work, like the artist, is shallow. Photojournalists, unlike artists, look outside of themselves at the world around them. They seek to be aware of the context of their stories and themselves within them. Above all they are driven by a belief and a sense of purpose to expose and disseminate a message that cannot be bought.
Whether it is Stanley Greene’s unflinching book about Chechnya or the revealing intimacy of Alfredo D’Amato’s photographs of the Iron People there is something here to make you sit up and take notice. For these are real stories, these people exist and their lives continue, or not at the case may be, even as you read this. No amount of column inches on J-Lo’s new hairstyle or the winner of the new art prize will make them go away.