John Goldsmith 8:10am, 1 October 2008
“I’m working on a story that the world needs to know about. I wish for you to help me break it, in a way that provides spectacular proof of the power of news photography in the digital age.”

-- James Nachtwey




On October 3, the story breaks. You can help....

www.tedprize.org/nachtwey/
John Goldsmith 7 years ago
Speculation?
MikeFromQueens 7 years ago
pictures of spectacular things... maybe.


could be anything really.
Simon_Bates PRO 7 years ago
Nachtwey's work is always progressive, and compelling. i cant wait to see....
Hughes Léglise-Bataille PRO 7 years ago
The discussion about this issue on Lightstalkers.

My point of view:
There was an exhibition of Nachtwey’s recent work in Paris back in February called “Combat pour la vie”, which focused on infectious diseases around the world. I missed the exhibition but it seems somehow related with the TED project.

I also wonder, if the “wish” is about an international health and disease issue, how could such an issue be a “breaking news”, kept as secret as the plot of a new blockbuster, to be revealed to the whole world at once on a given day ? Is there such a major and critical but untold story that deserve such an announcement ? Is there something out there worse than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis that we don’t know about ? Or is there some major government an/or companies scandal other than the ones we already know about treating “unprofitable” patients in third world countries (which if I remember well is the argument made by Bill Gates foundation to tackle these diseases) ?

I have no doubt that Nachtwey’s photos will be great but I’m concerned that the story they tell might suffer from too much expectation built by the PR campaign. If it was tied to a major fund-raising event, then all the marketing buzz might be easier to digest, but if it’s just about publishing a story, no matter how good and important it is, I’m not sure this is the best way. But let’s wait and see !
mario_rivera 7 years ago
Thanks for the heads-up. Good thing it will be shown at a place near work. What I'm more interested in is if it's gonna be enough to shake a lot of people here in HK out of their complacency to even bother at what's going to be shown...
pattersan 7 years ago
The images can be seen in London projected onto the National Theatre on 3 & 4 Oct, and at The Emergency Room from 7 Oct.
Annie (sleeping) 7 years ago
I might pop down after work on Saturday then...
John Goldsmith Posted 7 years ago. Edited by John Goldsmith (member) 7 years ago
It's Oct 3... just hours away.

Hugo. Interesting link. The bottom post looks quite official.

My guess is that this will be a big picture story -- and something that speaks to the essence of Nachtwey's career. Though vague, I'm wagering it is about power and corruption, as Hugo mentions. How vague is that???

I wish there was a place in Vancouver to watch this, besides my dumb computer. Toronto -- you suck!!

But whatever it is that Nachtwey and TED release...

Don't believe the hype! ;-)
John Goldsmith Posted 7 years ago. Edited by John Goldsmith (member) 7 years ago
Hugo... it looks like Lightstalkers was correct!

www.wired.com/culture/art/multimedia/2008/10/gallery_nach...

There are also 11 preview images at the above Wired link.


John Goldsmith Posted 7 years ago. Edited by John Goldsmith (member) 7 years ago
After some investigative reporting, I found the official site, I believe. The video doesn't seem to be working yet but the photographs are:

www.xdrtb.org/photographs.php
Hughes Léglise-Bataille PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Hughes Léglise-Bataille (member) 7 years ago
So, it's a new brand of tuberculosis (I wasn't far off !), resistant to most treatment (there's more about the disease within the website ; there's also a Times Magazine article). And it's sponsored by a big medical company (Becton, Dickinson and Co). And the photos are tremendous but with all due respect to Nachtwey, whom I admire a lot, it does feel like we've seen the same pictures over and over again. And people are encouraged to take action by signing up with some grassroots organizations. All very well, but nothing groundbreaking. The World Health Organization and many ONG have been already working on that issue for years. So basically, the real goal is to create awareness amongst the public, using Nachtwey's photos as a support.

The real novelty is the way they are used: instead of being confined to a few magazines, a book and a couple of exhibitions, they're being revealed simultaneously in a massive, carefully orchestrated way throughout the world. Which is fine to me, but I can't help thinking that it tells a lot about photojournalism: it means that a great story with awesome photos by one of the most well known photographer can no longer make a difference if it's "distributed" the traditional way. And that I think is sad...

Nachtwey's wish was in part to "prove the power of news photography in the digital age": to me, it signals somehow the opposite: news photography has failed to make a significant impact, and it has to go to extremes (such as the TED project) to reach its audience effectively.
Briggate.com PRO 7 years ago
Well put, Hughes.
Hughes Léglise-Bataille PRO 7 years ago
One more thing: in his interview to Wired, Nachtwey declares: "Because there are so few pages in the traditional press for serious subjects, the internet has really taken the place of the traditional press to get those stories out there." So very true, but the Internet (a broad and vague term) isn't funding photographers nor selling their pictures to cover these stories. TED project is the exception, not the rule, and cannot serve as a model for photojournalism. It's great that it exists, and I hope Nachtwey's wish can be fulfilled, but if photojournalism has to depend on such projects to be effective, we're in dire straits.
foig 7 years ago
Tee hee i've seen most of this body of work already (perks of working in the newpaper bizz)

Its pretty bloody amazing, some very powerfull stuff indeed, Nachtwey is an amazing photojournalist.
shveckle PRO 7 years ago
Yes but Hughes what do you think the solution is? Media coverage and info is changing. I am just curious.

Remember what happened to the music business. In the beginning they were so angry about Napster and things like that that trying to squash it out of existence that they predicted their own downfall by actually helping their own downfall. So traditional labels just went under everywhere. But some people from the biz I talked to (one of them who owned a well known label who had to close it down) felt that if the whole music industry embraced the new technology early on instead of fighting it that it would have saved it.
shveckle PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by shveckle (member) 7 years ago
by the way I still think the music industry has not caught up on the technology.
For instance every album one buys from iTunes, eMusic or any other Download store should contain in the album itself all the info about the album, year made and who plays on it, and the album notes. Most mp3 players today are in color and have the capability to have txt on it. While listening to an album or song, you should be able to click or get all the info on the song/album it is from you are listening to, year, musicians, producer, engineer, and jacket notes and album art, which does now happen. This is stuff that is important to many music buyers after a certain age.

I know I can find this stuff on the internet but I want to see it right there on my iPod while listening to it. I like Jazz and would like all the stuff that went along with the old albums too as well right there on my iPod. The CD insert to be able to look at and read while listening to the music, the notes, the musicians, a few photos etc. I can't believe record companies have not figured out software to be included with the album that does this on an iPod or any other multimedia personal player. This is also more incentive for people to buy through places instead of Limewire.
Hughes Léglise-Bataille PRO 7 years ago
"Yes but Hughes what do you think the solution is?": If I knew, I would be rich and famous ;-) Seriously, I have no idea. There's soooo many discussions around what's the future of photojournalism, so many people people whining, it's like the most common subject when 2 PJ get together. But even for the ones who try to see things from a positive angle, there's not really much except advice like "stop complaining, be original, be modern (i.e. go multimedia !), be committed, etc". All things which are true but honestly, quite obvious, and which don't help much (the multimedia part being the only practical suggestion). As for the economics, not much either, and it's quite linked with the ongoing debate about the media (esp. newspapers) itself.
thechrisproject 7 years ago
Some of this work is at The Big Picture right now:

www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/nachtweys_wish_awarenes...
benroberts PRO 7 years ago
does anyone else find the work completely predictable and uninspiring?
Bryan.Formhals PRO 7 years ago
yes.
george-v [deleted] 7 years ago
not at all. I think it's very powerful and important work
Robert McPeak 7 years ago
predictable yes, uninspiring no. like blues music, you know what's coming but it can still move you.
John Goldsmith 7 years ago
What 186k said. Likewise, I could listen Saxophone Colossus over and over again -- and I do.

The hype and preaching is the problem, but this was not created for art, I think, but for action. I don't think there were any revelations in the photography itself.
admin
curdiogenes 7 years ago
bennybedlam

yes.

I bought in, expected much more from a 100,000 and a year, and his talent.

There were a few stand-alone shots that blew my mind, but the essay as a whole just didn't have enough variance for me.

It seemed a good 85% of the shots were "sick person lying in bed", which may have not been the best way to 'break' the story. We've all seen sick-person-in-bed photos, and these were really, really good ones, but still.....
AlanSmithee2008 7 years ago
benny "does anyone else find the work completely predictable and uninspiring? "
bryan "yes. "
curdlingjeans "yes. "

I guess my question is 'How would YOU represent it then?', given that the issue IS an important one, and hype aside, the essay is relevent and valid.
Yes we have all seen dying ill people shots, and its easy to decide from the comfort of cyberland that its one dimensional and cliched, but rather than criticise, state how you would do it. How YOU would render it to make an impact. Aside from benny who i know works in this industry i get the feeling most of you have no idea about fullfilling a brief in the real world. I have been in the wards with beds full of dying people and to think that you can somehow 'dress' this up in some 'contemporary minimalist snapshot aesthetic bullshit ' and make it have more impact than just 'showing it as it is', is naive to say the least.
critique by all means, but its meaningless unless you offer a valid alternative for representing an essay such as this.
..Alex.. Posted 7 years ago. Edited by ..Alex.. (member) 7 years ago
I have been in the wards with beds full of dying people and to think that you can somehow 'dress' this up in some 'contemporary minimalist snapshot aesthetic bullshit ' and make it have more impact than just 'showing it as it is', is naive to say the least.

There's a lot more to the problem of tuberculosis than a repetitive series of images of emaciated patients at death's door can tell.

The people contributing to the emergence of multiple drug-resistant strains (i.e. the main point of the campaign) are the ones who have TB but are well enough to not require hospitalisation and for a variety of reasons (financial, lack of good drugs/clinics/medical staff, poor education) fail to complete their course of medication properly, or in some cases don't get the right combination of drugs in the first place.

And what about the other factors that contribute to the problem? HIV (and all its attendant issues), poverty, rapid population increase, migration (economic, political), smoking... What about the impact on families, friends, communities? The nightmare of contact tracing and trying to reduce transmission, or that families are losing their young adult members (i.e. the bread winners).

Most of these issues are given either little or no attention in Nachtwey's photos. So intead of an intelligent and thought-provoking photo essay, we have yet another set of emotive images designed to elicit the heartstring - purse string reflex (no brain input required).
erik neufurth PRO 7 years ago
but we have an highly efficient event that raises awerness to the topic, and we have alex who explains the details. not that bad, hm.
AlanSmithee2008 7 years ago
Alex. You are right that there is much more to this than just 'dying in the bed' shots. All the points you raise are valid and related to the subject matter. But Natchwey is a photographer. . what you seem to be describing is a 'written' essay. So i ask again. How would you 'shoot' it? Not how would you write about it.
How would you frame those related issues you talk about in pictures?
In a way that had impact, that made people look, even if its just to look away.
admin
curdiogenes 7 years ago
AlanSmithee2008

Are you saying that this is exactly how you would have shot it? If not, how would you have done it.

Popping up and implying that I (or anyone else) think(s) it should be "dressed up in some 'contemporary minimalist snapshot aesthetic bullshit ' and make it have more impact than just 'showing it as it is" just makes you seem argumentative. How about your 2 cents first, what do you think of it?

If you can't think of more of a variety of shots that would fit the topic at hand that's more of an issue that you have to deal with personally and creatively, not something that I have to defend.

Working on something for a year, hearing the stories from the sick people, should give you some ideas for shooting. You almost couldn't help but be lead to a story that makes this essay more personal.


That said (again), I have a few problems with the presentation in general.

If the extent of the photos were going to be "sick-person-in-bed" it could have used a tighter edit. Some of them are absolutely amazing, some so-so. You don't need to show me 30 of them for me to get the point, or the emotional reaction.

Second, the multimedia presentation:

I would have much rather have heard some audio from the scene than the music they chose.

The text was overbearing without adding any additional information. "We are the cure". We can stop this now." Etc... Not very journalistic, rather more like an ad for a NGO.
John Goldsmith Posted 7 years ago. Edited by John Goldsmith (member) 7 years ago
Say what you will about the photographs and presentation but then remember that you, the photographer, may not be the target audience. Is it new? Not really. Is it preachy? Quite. Now go and read comments in non-photography forums (i.e., the casual viewer) and you'll find a different than the vibe than what I get from here.

Do I think this will solve the crisis? Do I think people will encourage their leaders to act? Do I think people will donate waves of money? Not really. I'm too skeptical to believe that a few photographs will change the world.

Most people are concerned about the economy and their personal well being and now are focused on fear mongering about a financial crisis. I don't trust my leaders enough to act, though I think Nachtwey's Ted project, marketing included, is about as good as it gets aside from Michael Jackson and "We are the World."
Bryan.Formhals PRO 7 years ago
Well said Alex. Everything that you described can be photographed as well, so anyone who doesn't recognizes that has a serious lack of imagination and understanding of nuance.

I discussed this with other photographers behind closed doors and as you can imagine, there was some very harsh criticism. I'm not going to attribute this but it's from a former admin whom I think we all have a considerable amount of respect for...

"What really gets up my goat is that there was much more potential to this story. There were so many avenues of attack that could have been explored given that he had the amount of time that he did, other than the suffering victims in beds.

He could have chosen to photograph:

- Pharmaceutical labs and universities where research is taking place
- The researchers, scientists, doctors and grad students who are working there
- The organisations raising funds to combat said disease, the NGOs and
their staff (call centres, people out in the street collecting money,
administration staff).
- The donors to those NGOs (your average person on the street)
- The 'shipment trail' involved in getting these drugs and aid workers
transported from the developed world to the third world
- The people on the ground in Africa (doctors and carers) fighting the disease
- The non-suffering people being directly affected by the disease
(farms untended, orphans, widows and widowers, empty villages.

But instead, you just get the same old same old, your twitchy war
photographer jumping around sticking his camera at dying people in
beds. Come on, be smarter about this, be subtler, don't be so fucking obvious."


I have much more respect for Simon Norfolk's approach.
John Goldsmith 7 years ago
Just a note from a former pharma chemist:

Pharmaceutical companies don't do this research. It's unprofitable. Last I checked, new antibiotics haven't been created for years even with the threat of superbugs. That said, I'm sure there are some university labs where research is being done but big pharma does not like to buy or promote drugs that actually cure disease. It's much more profitable to just suppress symptoms.

I agree that this would be an interesting story and the big picture is important. I'm just not sure that people who are going to buy into this campaign want nuance. At least, not as much as we do.

Also, I'm not completely defending Nachtwey or his approach. I'm just trying to understand the market for photographs for his purpose. I actually think corruption would have been the story. That is what keeps us from advancing -- not the lack of drugs.
Bryan.Formhals PRO 7 years ago
right, so in order to get people to fork over money to the cause, you need to essentially use propaganda.

It's 'Cause' campaigning, not photojournalism.
hinius 7 years ago
PS. I wrote that post that Bryan quoted from.

Personally, I think the photos are predictable and unimaginative.

Thanks to the AIDS epidemic in Africa, there are enough concerned photojournalists running around taking shots of poor third world people dying in beds to last a lifetime (just as there are enough street photographers making photos of homeless bums to last a lifetime).
admin
james1hour 7 years ago
If you are going to project images on the sides of buildings all across the world, what is the average person going to respond to? Photographs of lab research, average people who donate, organizations raising funds? Or the photographs of people actually effected by the disease....

i'm not sure, because it is true we have been over saturated by photos of the dying etc...but a big display like this....i'm just not sure if the passing public wants to digest a whole intellectual series focusing on so many different angles.
benroberts PRO 7 years ago
but i tell you what, $100,000 could have funded that kind of extensive project. i think that's the main beef. i mean... $100K. fucking hell!!
Paul Russell99 PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Paul Russell99 (member) 7 years ago
I don't know much about Nachtwey, but maybe he is using his modest fame to raise some simplistic and very basic awareness to the largest possible audience of a problem that he feels strongly about. Without worrying about the aesthetic sensibilities of a tiny minority of chin-stroking photo enthusiasts like me.
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curdiogenes 7 years ago
james1hour I wonder how many more people are going to see this on the internet or in print, rather than on the side of a building. I saw it online.
Annie (sleeping) 7 years ago
oh shit, i forgot to go and look at it on the building. Was even IN the building. and forgot.
John Goldsmith 7 years ago
Who said this is photojournalism? Nachtwey had a wish that Ted granted.There is probably a bit of selfishness on both parts -- Ted uses Nachtwey for fame and Natchwey futher promotes his name, but in the end maybe some good can come of this symbiotic relationship.

These photos could have been taken anywhere in the last 50 years. There is nothing strikingly different. But you know....

Most people like predictability.
!Jinju 7 years ago
I got bored first and then just overwhelmed by the repetitiveness of the images. Its the same thing over and over again, dressed up a bit differently. very one dimensional reportage.
maybe i;m not as jaded as the lot of you (hello, btw! new here) but i didnt find the images uninspiring. depressing, maybe, but not uninspiring. are they predictable? sure(desperately sick people don't look that different from each other sadly)... but as others have pointed out... predictability can be a good thing.
AlanSmithee2008 7 years ago
curdburgler@ "Are you saying that this is exactly how you would have shot it? If not, how would you have done it. " ...I dont know. But probably along the same lines as natchwey. it will have fifteen minutes in the media and the worlds eye, max. To make a thought provoking deep essay into everything that surrounds this, and yes of course there is a lot more to it than death, would not have a chance of impacting on the guilt responses of most people. Also, unless it was a personal or a book project it would not get funded in the first place. Period.
This IS about hype, it is about using a very small window to bring a tiny bit of awareness. i think the pictures, who they are by, and how they are being 'propagandised' is probably the only way to have got the story out into the mainstream.
"If you can't think of more of a variety of shots that would fit the topic at hand that's more of an issue that you have to deal with personally and creatively, not something that I have to defend" its not really a case of thinking, thats what the people who sit in their bedrooms pretending to be shaun flynn do. Its more a case of what is going to open the window of awareness now.
bryan@ "Well said Alex. Everything that you described can be photographed as well, so anyone who doesn't recognizes that has a serious lack of imagination and understanding of nuance." If you say so bryan.
"He could have chosen to photograph:

- Pharmaceutical labs and universities where research is taking place
- The researchers, scientists, doctors and grad students who are working there
- The organisations raising funds to combat said disease, the NGOs and
their staff (call centres, people out in the street collecting money,
administration staff).
- The donors to those NGOs (your average person on the street)
- The 'shipment trail' involved in getting these drugs and aid workers
transported from the developed world to the third world
- The people on the ground in Africa (doctors and carers) fighting the disease
- The non-suffering people being directly affected by the disease
(farms untended, orphans, widows and widowers, empty villages.".....yes he could, but he needed to get it pumped out into an increasingly small public concioussness, not published in a stiedl hardback for wannabe curators to wank over. All those angles can and should be covered, but not if you want to just start a ball rolling on an issue that needs airing now.
"It's 'Cause' campaigning, not photojournalism. " Yes i believe it is, although it most certainly is photojournalism as well, and of a quality that most people will never attain.
benny@ 'but i tell you what, $100,000 could have funded that kind of extensive project. i think that's the main beef. i mean... $100K. fucking hell!!" first $100,000 aint really that much for a years work( and before you come back with a snide comment, yes.) and second it probably came with quite a tight brief, even to someone of natchweys reputation.
~Joe~ 7 years ago
@Hin

RE:

- Pharmaceutical labs and universities where research is taking place
- The researchers, scientists, doctors and grad students who are working there
- The organisations raising funds to combat said disease, the NGOs and
their staff (call centres, people out in the street collecting money,
administration staff).
- The donors to those NGOs (your average person on the street)
- The 'shipment trail' involved in getting these drugs and aid workers
transported from the developed world to the third world

- The people on the ground in Africa (doctors and carers) fighting the disease

- The non-suffering people being directly affected by the disease
(farms untended, orphans, widows and widowers, empty villages."


I think on paper you are correct Hin, that a more holistic set of images would be..... well, more holistic.....but with the exception of the last two bullets, i think the still image media is too constrained to offer the holistic benefit to 'this' topic...

for example if the essay was meant to enlighten, and at its best to collect wide-spread support to move the issue from its current state to an improved future state, then the images should be able to show the futility of the current state and ideally a hint of what's weak about it that people might contribute to change.

But this is not a war or a famine where there is loads of visual evidence to collect to show a horizontal and vertical narrative to the topic. Most of the images that would fall out of all but the last two of your bullets Hin might just as easily be used for a college entrance application or a green peace effort.

There's simply no easy way or even no hard way to show the futility of this cause. To be a bit cynical, would you photograph someone's hand with a watch on it showing it's two in the morning and the parking lot is still filled with scientist working around the clock to move the cause along?, but then collect another image from inside that shows they have to re-use their t-bags since the funding doesn't exist for them to use fresh ones when they work through the night?

I know that's a bit naff, but it does make you think about what still images (unassisted by large amounts of text) that you might even choreograph yourself Hin that would show some necessary state-changing messages to the topical areas you list, again, with solely a still image. The list you provide is areas you'd like to see included in the essay, but being more methodic... what would your 'shot' list look like to make the message that is both relevent and provacative to a still image essay for this issue?

Personally for me, at its best, with this topic, i think the essay can only provide a haunting 'mood' to the issue and instigate exploration of all the topics you raise in a text based fashion or moving picture documentary, but that’s just me.

..
thechrisproject 7 years ago
I haven't researched this project of his much, but... how do we know he didn't shoot more of the things mentioned by various people above? Maybe all we're seeing is one edit, designed for one very specific purpose, which is to shock/educate/interest people who haven't heard about this before.

Maybe he shot different facets of this. Maybe there's a book due later.
Jules... Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Jules... (member) 7 years ago
Why do pictures have to tell the whole story, completely literally? What's wrong with a little ambiguity?

I may not be that intelligent, but I'm not a moron - I don't need to be hit over the head with a sledgehammer, repeatedly, to get the point...

(edit: for clarity - I was responding directly to this by Joe - "But this is not a war or a famine where there is loads of visual evidence to collect to show a horizontal and vertical narrative to the topic. Most of the images that would fall out of all but the last two of your bullets Hin might just as easily be used for a college entrance application or a green peace effort.")
Annie (sleeping) 7 years ago
I feel that the range is narrow, but probably "on brief" for what he was paid to do. We certainly are now aware of drug-resistant TB (though it has been far from a secret in recent years). The method and manner of distribution is pretty interesting.

This is the sort of story which can't be told using images alone as Joe says. Though I believe that text narrative is often lacking in many photo projects...

The use of still imagary as a means of reporting an ongoing problem is often seen as problematic. We see the immediate suffering, but there is no subtlety in this set. This could be an AIDS project, a cancer project, a famine project... We don't, as someone mentioned earlier, see the months of illness preceding these deathknocks. We see the final part, the end. This is presumably to shock, few of us will have seen sights like this in our own lives. It represents the situation from a biased viewpoint, albeit one which isn't out to exploit for financial gain, and it has been dressed up in biochemical garb. Alex said heart string - purse string. And that is exactly it. It has the feel of a chugger in the street saying "but don't you care about curing cancer?!" as you tell them to fuck off, and walk on by.

And like it or not, people over here won't act until the moment they feel threatened themselves...
Annie (sleeping) Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Annie (sleeping) (member) 7 years ago
Actually, reading now that big pharma was backing the project, I'm not 100% sure that there isn't some other agenda

edit:

AHA! As I thought. BD sponsors project. These are the last 5 days of their share index. I have annotated, just to clarify timescales. ;)

bd chart
~Joe~ 7 years ago
That's cute Annie, you did collect some good talents with those hedge fund managers. ;-)
..
benroberts PRO 7 years ago
@john

i think $100k is actually a fairly large amount of money to shoot a photojournalism project in third world countries. unless of course Mr Natchwey is commissioning his own private jet and staying in the Hyatt.

lets think:

flights - (20, at $10k each) - $20k (then times this by two for an assistant = $40k)
film - i reckon he probably gets this for free from a sponsor, but for what it's worth lets throw a guess at 700 rolls, at $3 each - $2.1k
subsistence - having travelled in plenty of 3rd world countries, i reckon you could pretty much live like a king on $30/day. so if we say 7 locations and 21 days in each, thats - $4.4k (times this by two for an assistant = $8.8k)
developing and proof prints - dev and contact, i'll throw a guess at $12 per roll, then say there are 5 proofs off each roll at $3 a pop. $8.4k + $10.5k

then an assistant, 150 days at $150 per da - $22.5k

okay so that's $92.3k, which leaves almost $8000 for cheap red wine and nibbles at the opening party.

okay, so thats all very sketchy but you get my drift. $100k can go a long way in a documentary project. and in my opinion, he probably wouldn't need an assistant for most of this so doubling up on the flights/subsistence is an extravagance, and you could maybe knock down the number of paid assistant days to 40-50...

okay enough...
~Joe~ 7 years ago
@Jules.. not sure we're in disagreement, but in case we seem to be, i agree with you about not liking literal visual narratives, i find them to be a bit like stories by numbers as well as almost patronising and not at all instigating reflection, contemplation, and then ultimately action.

But i do like texture, variety, and visual pace. Collecting (if available) images that are moving and are distinctly different with a greater scope… but in the final edit, are still cohesive... Now this would seem very appealing to view..

If you could tease out these 'struggle' images from places that are not so literal, but are entirely relevant (like what Alex and Hin have offered), then it would improve the visual benefit both to an art critic and to someone that is punch-drunk by literal messages and repetition.

But my point is that i’m sceptical that these holistic to the issue 'struggle' images were readily available to collect in a way that would appeal to the second and third quartile of a frequency distribution of punters. And I think this was the target audience.

So yes i'm sure Hin could make a photograph of the outside of a medical institution and possibly through colour harmony or point of view make a fine art image... but his fine art image would be lost on the deep pockets of the larger demographic me thinks…

Anyway, there’s some strong opinions levied here about how it should have been done and what a disappointment the results were from a pretty switched on tog… I really can think of only one person in our midst that has the actual experience with subtle subject matter relating to social commentary and the struggles to illuminate it with still images, so much so he’s competing for an award to further the project.

So Ben, with your BPJ project, you know there is some greed, unfairness, and possibly some environmentally reckless activity going on and ideally your images would make this believable. How easy are you finding it to assemble a set of still images that live up to the message you have in your head about the situation? I know you have strong feelings for the message, but is there enough visual evidence to live up to your degree of conviction?
..
benroberts PRO 7 years ago
Joe I am finding it very hard because I don't have $100k.
AlanSmithee2008 7 years ago
ben. I am right at the bottom of the food chain in terms of production budgets for shoots and I get $3000 a week for expenses.
Plus im pretty sure mr natchwey does not have to slum it at $30 per diem ( i mean who the fuck except students and concerned citizens for jesus do?). More like $400-500 and half that for assistants per day. Dont get me wrong that amount of money can go a hell of a long way, but at that end of the food chain he's operating at it really isnt a lot. Factor in insurance, logistics, production staff and admin wages, natchweys pay for covering the shooting and the editing, medical insurance and all the other little things that a high profile campaign like this will have, and then advertising as well.. and the money soon dissapears. It sucks and it might seem a bit grandiose but generally thats the way it is
shveckle PRO 7 years ago
If 100K is all he is getting for a year which includes all his expenses is that really a lot? I guess if he is allowed to take other jobs then maybe it is a lot. But if he is not allowed to take other jobs for a full year, which maybe he was not? then after expenses shouldn't he be left with some money for the job?

I think in order to keep the same shock value but possibly doing it different, instead of taking photos like an invisible photographer, maybe it would be more shocking and personable if he took the photographs more to include the viewer.

The images look like fly on the wall type photos, I do not feel pulled into the room but more like a far away onlooker of something that looks far away. Maybe more portraits, maybe color to take away the black and white abstractness that pulls it further away. Maybe more interaction between photographer and patient. Maybe more emotional interaction between patient and people who are in the room. (as it is, the patients look like animals being treated) More eyes into the camera to make the patients feel and look "more real, more touchable, more like they are next to you the viewer".
Jules... 7 years ago
[@ Joe, no, I don't think we disagree either]
benroberts PRO 7 years ago
john

i'm sorry but the vast majority of editorial/documentary photographers do not get expenses of $3000 a week. especially not in cambodia, vietnam and thailand. i haven't got a clue if you have been to any of these countries, but in cambodia in particular you would struggle to spend $300 a day on anything, let alone wondering around a few hospital wards.

i haven't got a clue what you shoot for a living, but if you are regularly heading out to the far reaches of the planet with $3000 a week expenses then i would very much like to meet your clients.

if you are regularly shooting in a studio/advertising situation then of course $3000 a week expenses is absolutely believable. but for documentary? nah, sorry...

of course, this whole natchwey gig is more advertising than editorial, and you are probably right about the expenses that he ran up and the way that he shot it. but i think it's important to point out that for editorial/documentary this is definitely not the norm (especially when the images are shot with no other on shoot production apart from a photographer with his leica). As i work in production for a documentary photographer who has won just about every award going and shoots regularly most of the big UK publications, then i think i am qualified to know this.
erik neufurth PRO 7 years ago
gimme 200 each day, and i´ll promise to assist in any way. of course i would donate the money to something good.
BennehBoy Posted 7 years ago. Edited by BennehBoy (member) 7 years ago
Account inactive go to: www.jamesdodd.net [deleted] 7 years ago
handle the fame well children, use it to your advantage and don't let it get to your head.
krameroneill 7 years ago
From Conscientious: "it does feel like we've seen the same pictures over and over again" (the quote can be found in this discussion, which someone sent me for completely different reasons actually)

Bold: mine.

Alright, who talked?! I want your badge and your gun on my desk, right now.
flat5 7 years ago
i assumed it was from joe linking to the topic on magnum's blog... regardless, the suggestion by jorg to have a.soth pick up the topic could make for an interesting read... bringing in some big time pjs to give their input..
[i usually love when a big time ____ talks about their venture of choice and then comparing that with the speculations and hype by the lowly crowd... exaggerated example = lowly type writing 15 paragraphs on photojournalism while the big timer simply says "huh? i just like shooting photos"]
thechrisproject 7 years ago
Alec opened it up to comments:
blog.magnumphotos.com/2008/10/does_photojournalism_make_y...

I've always been a little torn about Joerg's decision to disallow comments on his blog. On the one hand it avoids petty bullshit, but on the other hand it reminds me of his complaint about Chelsea galleries keeping the public at bay. Although, to his credit, Joerg has always responded to emails courteously.
krameroneill 7 years ago
Wow, Jörg jumped right into the Magnum fray headfirst.

Odd. But I guess I don't really properly understand the role of criticism.
kediwah PRO 7 years ago
While I'm sure the photography is of excellent calibre, something about this feels very commercial and hyped.
flat5 7 years ago
"something about this feels very commercial and hyped. "

i don't agree with the commercial feel.. as far as i can tell, the only corporation that really stands to profit off of this is BD&co but even then, i'm not left with the same feeling about them as i am with the tons of 'invent-an-affliction' medical companies that are plastering themselves across the u.s. (and i assume most other countries)... further, all of the hosting and design work appear to have been donated and there are no ads or any other money grabbers in the message..

hyped? yes, defiinitely... but very effective if you ask me.. maybe i'm a dumbass that's buying into the hype that BD wants to create so they can line their pockets but based on what i've learned so far, this really is a global health threat.. one that should have never happened... whitey got all the TB out of their countries but never finished the job.. now that shit is just festering and morphing in the poorer nations and it's going to bite back again..
of course there are many other problems in the world right now but this one is on the easily fixable side.. the longer we wait, the harder it will be..
i also don't think nachtwey simply picked this as his 'next assignment' because he's been on it for years now.. the only nacthwey show i've ever seen was at the UN a couple of years ago and it was about TB except it had to do more with TB's resurgence in light of the aids epidemic.. the message i got was 'this is so incredibly curable in relation to most diseases yet we ignore it'.. i can only imagine his frustration to actually bear witness to the morphing of the disease alongside his message to knock it off the planet...

based on that, i feel he had to overhype this story.. he had to hit us over our retarded heads with this one.. and it's working - this story has gone viral... i would expect all of us photographers to get all bitchy about the photos etc but i really hope the rest of the world doesn't react in the same way.. i don't think his message is anything to do with the photography or how awesome he is etc.. i think he's genuinely concerned with the epidemic and he's doing his best to get the message out there with what he has and knows..
John Goldsmith Posted 7 years ago. Edited by John Goldsmith (member) 7 years ago
Excellent post, Jeff. I agree. I think most photographers (and critics) are missing the point. Go to any blog that has a substantial readership and people are wowed by this, such as the big picture, if I recall. I don't know what other indicator to use at its effectiveness, but that seems more valid than most of the opinions from the "experts."

And if people are so tired of these images, then why is "Save the Children" still pumping out these ads like it's 1980?
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curdiogenes 7 years ago
WAXY.

I believe that people are wowed by this, but when I spoke to photojournalists recently in the L.A area along with an AP pj and a New York Times one, almost all pretty big fans of Nachtwey, I heard much the same criticisms that we're voicing here, albeit in milder tones.

As far as Hin's list goes, Joe is right, as still images they would be hard pressed to tell the story, but as transition pictures in a project that was presented as multimedia, they are/were definitely do-able, and I think would have added to the story greatly.

Anyway, off to read the magnum blog....
..Alex.. 7 years ago
^ What Jeff said (about TB), ditto.
krameroneill 7 years ago
If only Nachtwey had shot 6x7 deadpan color portraits of each of the patients and caregivers, so that Jörg and the rest of the tastemakers could hail it as brilliant. At least it would fit their definition of "good photography" (for the next six months, until they had some new trend to follow).
Annie (sleeping) 7 years ago
haha :)

fwiw - alex - after last night's phlow discussion I think I was being overly cynical. Perhaps money and greed aren't at the centre of this, but even if they are what does it matter as long as new treatments are developed and lives are saved.
BennehBoy 7 years ago
Take a look at the streams of those sitting on ether side of this argument, it's quite a clear delineation. I feel that I should be surprised by that too.
John Goldsmith 7 years ago
curdiogenes. I'm not sure I follow, but it's the photojournalists that I was referring to as so called experts, along with Joerg. To emphasize, I think they are viewing this project through the eyes of art. That hardly seems like Nachtwey's purpose. It most certainly is not TED's.
mort* 7 years ago
@Waxy: I've wondered about Nachtwey's consideration when it comes to his work as art. The fact that he mostly uses black and white film and traditional darkroom prints makes me think he's interested in more than just documenting like the majority of PJs with their DSLRs. There is an artistic approach even if his main goal is raising awareness.
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curdiogenes Posted 7 years ago. Edited by curdiogenes (admin) 7 years ago
WAXY.
I guess in my experience, most pj's I know don't consider themselves artists or look through pj shots through an "art" lens. They are usually working stiffs and not tremendously creative (in their jobs), but again, this is just my experience.

Staff photographers of papers seem to be beaten down by the repetitiveness of their jobs, lots of press conferences and mug shots, which is maybe why the work from the big pj agencies like Magnum and VII are so fresh.

I'm not looking at his project through the lens of art though, and I definitely don't have a problem with b&w and grain, I'm still just disappointed in the variety and presentation of the thing. And that's mostly the argument I heard from others. Joerg's b&w and grain argument never came up and is a little silly if you ask me.

Nachtwey just didn't leverage the possibilities of multimedia OR storytelling for that matter well enough in this case. These pictures look more like stills designed to supplement a wordy article on the dangers of drug-resistant TB than pictures designed to be presented in a multimedia piece that tells that story in a compelling fashion on its own.

Edit: Hope that's clearer..?
krameroneill 7 years ago
most pj's I know don't consider themselves artists or look through pj shots through an "art" lens. They are usually working stiffs and not tremendously creative (in their jobs)

Yup. I know precious few people who exercise a large amount of creativity in their day jobs, even if those are theoretically "creative" jobs. Get there, finish the shot/interview/design/whatever, and get out, hopefully at some reasonable hour. Making something that's both immediate and potentially enduring isn't often a consideration, which makes the people at Magnum and VII special.
John Goldsmith 7 years ago
Mort. That's what I was thinking. I don't think JN considers himself the average PJ. Photojournalism can obviously be more than just delivering the news. It can deliver the story, be art, and deliver change, as you said.

From a scientific standpoint, AIDS is far more difficult to halt than spread of TB which doesn't require new technology to cure. Thus the financial and social investments are also small, relatively. TB is also potentially far more dangerous than AIDS since the latter has quite a low opportunity for transmission.

curdiogenes. Thanks. That does help. Considering what TED is about, i wish that they would have embraced the technology a bit more, which was a let down especially given the hype. As a connoisseur of photography, do you think this project is for you, or say, they casual viewer?
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