Friday, October 3, 2008

From Photojournalism to Changing Philanthropy: Signs of Sanity

Photography is a major force in explaining man to man.
Edward Steichen, Time, Apr 7, 1961

A spirit in my feet said 'go', and I went.
Matthew Brady, on why he photographed the Civil War.

In the ongoing revolution of instant information-—now led by ireporters with cell phones and bloggers around the globe following the last generation’s innovation of 24/7 news-—the question of the place or need for the traditional photojournalist can arise.

Photojournalists are generally employed by MSM to cover an event. They are credentialed and given access to get close to their subjects in beats like campaigns or the White House. They work sources when covering events in foreign countries to learn how to get to where the action really is.

Their product-—the image-—can seem quiet in such a noisy, frenetically moving age.

Until . . . you see the piece of art in person. Then you will be dazzled at the power of the amazing feat that freezes an image and keeps it still.

I don’t often tout things going on at the day job, but there is an exhibit at The Paley Center for Media called “The Power of Elections: A Tribute to Photojournalism” that is really worth seeing.

Cocurated with the International Center for Journalists, it shows election-related images from Haiti, Poland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Venezula, Ukraine, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and our own race for the White House. Each of the world-class photographers has captured “the moment” that tells an entire story. Beyond the historical significance, they are pieces of art. Taken all together, it really is dazzling.

And, beyond seeing them in person, the ICFJ is auctioning them off to raise money for its various programs. Each photo is signed by the photographer. You can bid for them on a site called BiddingforGood. You can get there from the ICFJ homepage. I’m bidding on one of the images of Hillary Clinton.

BiddingforGood is a great site. Many small nonprofits and churches use it to raise money. From their FAQ: " is a community that brings together cause-conscious consumers and organizations looking to raise funds to support their missions."

I’m going to do my Christmas shopping there this year. Rather than buying family gifts for people who really don’t need anything that can fit in a box, I’m going to take that money and bid on random things from small churches and organizations.

And, in one of the unexpected intersections in life, I found this site, because of the exhibit, just as I started reading Tom Watson’s book CauseWired, which looks at how the web, and social networking in particular, is changing philanthropy. And there I was actually participating in this new wave, rather than just reading about it.

I love when the universe makes sense, however briefly.

Photos, top to bottom, all being auctioned.

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Campaigning in Portland, Oregon, 1966; Photographer: David Hume Kennerly

Voting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2006
Photographer: Lynsey Addario

Hillary Clinton's Farewell Address, Washington, D.C., 2008
Photographer: Barbara Kinney

Bhutto's Last Stand, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 2007
Photographer: John Moore


Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

Good post. I particularly like the way the photographers have - perhaps unwittingly - invoked Hilary Clinton about to push apart the pillars in the background, like Samson eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves, and Benazir Bhutto pointing towards where in the estimation of many she would find herself within the hour.

Jeremy said...

Interesting post, which prompted me to go click on the ICFJ site and look for that auction. BUT your link is wrong; ICFJ is an org, not a com.

Other than that, nothing but kudos to you!

Alas, no images of the one election I would really want, South Africa's first fully enfranchised one. I listened to live Radio 4 reports on the day and had to pull over because I couldn't see through my tears.

M.A.Peel said...

Jeremy,I fixed the link. Thanks very much for pointing it out. What a lovely comment on the South African election. All the more so because you heard it on radio, that other stepchild of the tv hegemony.

Christopher, I think the photographers would be thrilled with your read on the images. Yes, Samson! Every time I looked at the Kinney piece something was echoing, but I couldn't verbalize it. I'm going to have to dip into Milton tonight, just to underline the thought.