Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Ed Kashi - In The Thick Of It All
Amidst a revolution in the fundamental nature of photojournalism, Ed Kashi stands as the quintessential next-generation storyteller
Photographer Ed Kashi defines the phrase “next-generation photojournalist.” Rather than reject the use of or struggle with adopting digital imaging tools and technologies, he has readily welcomed them. He acknowledges that the days of working strictly as a print photographer, in the spirit of Cartier-Bresson or Kertész, are long gone. As a photojournalist, creating static images no longer suffices as an effective means of storytelling.
“The new tools of the digital revolution have enhanced my ability to have more authorship over my work,” says Kashi. “I think that's the hidden gift, from my point of view, of the digital revolution—that despite all of the complaints that photographers offer about the new tools and technology, that they fear they're being taken over by it or losing something—in fact, their control or authorship is far greater now.
“Authorship is incredibly important because at the end of the day, I'm a storyteller; at the beginning of the day, I'm a storyteller. That's what I want to do. Obviously, I'm most deeply committed to telling stories through photographs and the contextual information and the words that go with those pictures to give them deeper meaning. But now, with audio and video, there's this other exciting thing happening. With projects like my upcoming piece on India and The Sandwich Generation project that I made about my father-in-law moving in, I have, in my own creative evolution, hit a new stride working with high-end stills and high-end video to tell stories with these streams of raw material.”
As Kashi explains, a video project in and of itself is nothing without the use of pictures. “What's exciting and important is that the photographs supply the emotional and psychological accents to the work,” he says. “Without them, the pieces wouldn't be the same; they'd just be video, and it wouldn't be as powerful. I think that there's something about using photographs in this new medium that's exciting, that's vital and that's necessary.”
In spite of the ease with which Kashi has embraced these technologies to better tell a story, creative friction remains between the application of the old analog and the new digital imaging technologies. “What I'm grappling with,” says Kashi, “is trying to maintain the importance and integrity of still photography in this new medium as it's applied to the Web, which is the new dissemination tool of the moment and the future as far as I can see.”
These new dissemination tools present both creative and communicative challenges. “With regards to standard print photography, it's not dying per se, but it's shrinking,” he adds. “It's still as important to me as it has ever been, but in light of these new mediums of communication and dissemination, you have to look at all of this and think, ‘With National Geographic, I can reach 40 million people around the world. That's quite a potent audience.' But there's something different about how I can reach people on the Web that in a way is almost more intimate and potentially could be even bigger.”