Friday, June 1, 2007
Photojournalism In The Age Of YouTube
For freelance photojournalists, these are chaotic times. But in chaos there's opportunity if you have the daring to go for it.
Cost Versus Financial Rewards
At this stage in the game, pricing is completely up in the air, Storm says. “Almost every client we're talking to—with the exception of MSNBC, who has been a long-established player in the online space—everybody else we're dealing with, a big part of our job is just educating them on usage, what these things are worth. Frankly, they're a hell of a lot harder to produce than a print story.”
Storm says publishers have to be much more savvy about how to use limited budgets to generate original production. “We're actually working on Darfur right now for a client. The Counsel on Foreign Relations has hired us to produce a big piece for them on Darfur. They will have rights to publish the project for a period of time, and then we'll be able to go and syndicate that project after that. We'll split the revenue fifty-fifty with the photographer.
“If it's an individual like Kristen Ashburn—who came to us November 7th and said, ‘Hey, World AIDS Day is December 1st, let's get this done'— that's a project I basically bankrolled all the way. No one payed me. In fact, I licensed that from Kristen to publish on our site. That project cost me quite a bit to produce, but I believed in it.”
Adds Storm, “Look at Kingsley's Crossing on our site. We spent a month in production on that story. That's not cheap for us to do. So the cost of production is still higher than the financial return, but I think that's quickly going to change.”
Storm says he can feel the pulse of the industry shifting now toward multimedia storytelling, which is hugely satisfying for him. “I've been jumping up and down for almost 15 years now, trying to get photographers to think about multimedia and multi-platform storytelling, and gathering sound— the kind of things that maybe a photojournalist wasn't too keen to do before. Now I think they see it as a great opportunity to be authors of their stories, which is something I think we've been missing in our profession.”
Dirck Halstead is equally optimistic about freelance photojournalism in the future. He foresees a new kind of photojournalism emerging, which tells stories in much more exciting ways and makes it possible for the photographer to maintain control throughout the whole process.
“The kind of photojournalism that's going to be done in the years ahead is going to be very exciting,” he says. “The question will be how do you survive financially in this market? Because at the end of the day, it's a business.”
Revenue And Web-Based Publications In The Future
As editorial budgets and revenues shrink for print publications, Ed Kashi thinks, at some point, publishers are going to wake up and realize more people are looking at their Websites than their printed editions. Not that print is going to disappear, but as this shift continues, publications will have to redesign their infrastructure, including ad revenue and subscriptions.
“Once that happens, and it's already happening,” Kashi says, “then hopefully I'd love to see the day when more publications are calling me, saying, ‘Hey, we'd love you to do this story or we'd love you to propose an idea, and multimedia is the main component of it. And, oh, yeah, we'll also have a print part of it as well.'
“For instance, when that happens and they're paying the proper day rates or production rates or whatever—again, this is all the stuff that needs to be sorted out so that it's fair to the photographer, and all we're talking about is a living wage, not to get rich, right—then that's a very exciting vision of where this is going.”
To see more of Ed Kashi's work, visit www.edkashi.com.
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