Sell" was the name of a panel at Fotofusion, the large undertaking
of the Palm Beach Workshop. The original panel consisted of Jimmy
Colton, picture editor of Sports Illustrated, who previously
served as executive vice president and general manager of SIPA Press,
and was senior photo editor of international news and director of
photography of Newsweek magazine; Pete Cross, assistant managing
editor for photography at the Palm Beach Post; Dieter Steiner,
retired from a long career in photojournalism including Keystone
agency, International News Photos, UPI, and 25 years at Stern
magazine as picture editor, and Robert Stevens, associate photography
editor at Time. His years at the magazine have always been
in international news.
Journalist requested that the subject be taken up again and
the result was straight talk on magazines and how to approach editors
with the additional informative discussion on digital photography
and its influence on the market. In this session Horst Faas stepped
in to discuss the Associated Press' impact on a changing world.
Faas began at
Keystone agency (with Dieter Steiner) 50 years ago. He joined AP
in 1955 as a photographer, winning two Pulitzer Prizes, and is now
the AP's senior European photo editor based in London.
The first and
recurring advice to photographers was "Do your homework." This covered
a wide range of topics, such as, why do you want to be a photographer,
know whom you are approaching, both the editor and the magazine.
said that when a photographer came into his office and said "Here's
my portfolio, what do you want?" Steiner knew that there were other
photographers he should be talking to instead. The magazine editors
agreed that it was much better to be approached with a great idea
or solid portfolio than open-ended questions and requests to be
sent somewhere exciting.
was quite clear on portfolios. There is no one all-purpose group
of photographs. What one would show Sports Illustrated is
not the group with which to approach Time. [Do your homework.]
Sports Illustrated has the "Leading Off" section that Colton
pointed out wasa good way to make contact with the magazine. Intriguing
and unusual photographs having "something" to do with sport are
encouraged and considered.
Colton and Stevens
reiterated that the photographer must find out the closing days
of the magazine and avoid those times for making contact. The staffs
at the magazine are in high gear and cannot stop to talk on the
phone to a prospective photographer.
to make a fine portrait in many lighting conditions and environments
will eventually find the photographer a place in the business, Colton
said. He looks for high quality portraits and an ability to do feature
stories when he goes through a portfolio. Robert Stevens, too, is
interested in the photo stories presented at Time.
Not every editor
is the same; Dieter Steiner wants to have the photographer present
as he goes through the work. He is also wary of portfolios and how
they are constructed. Steiner said he much prefers proof sheets
so he can see the photographer thinking and how the choice of finished
image was made.
Press receives many applications every day. The main concern for
Horst Faas, besides picture quality, is reliability. Can the photographer
deliver the image swiftly? Do they have digital equipment with which
to transmit? There are cases where equipment is supplied to an outside
person, particularly a proven photographer living in a country where
he or she cannot possibly buy the correct equipment for AP's needs.
Faas looks for maturity and the ability to handle any situation.
Inexperience with the many kinds of conflict that can turn up and
a "hotshot" mentality can put the photographer at great risk and
even cause death.
The next two
subjects discussed were captions and working out-of-country. Captions
would seem to be simple enough but all the panelist agreed that
if they themselves have to do all the background checks because
a photo comes in marked "Bosnia," the photo may well be dropped
and the photographer given a warning. At AP the captions are delivered
with the data package. Any pertinent material missing makes the
image unusable. Faas added that if a photographer editorializes
and does not heed the editor's warning to stick to the facts that
person will no longer work for the organization.
approach editors wishing to be sent to a hot spot in global news.
Sometimes they want to live in Africa or India where something newsworthy
Both Faas and
Stevens agreed that they do not "send" photographers for that reason.
Robert Stevens pointed out that a photographer could call him before
or after the trip and talk about his aims. On return Stevens speaks
to the photographer by phone to get a sense of the work brought
back. At one point Stevens said he would like to pay more if someone
would turn up with a good non-violent take on a foreign situation.
hires in country. Faas said that AP and other news bureaus such
as Reuters have many more photographers. The AP has multiplied its
bureaus and sub-bureaus in most countries. In India, for example,
Faas explained that for years AP had only two photographers for
all of India. If something happened in another place they would
miss the story. Now they have sixteen photographers and more bureaus
so they can get to the site of a news event faster than other agencies.
With photographers living in the country who know the political
situation and speak the language, the process is speeded up considerably.
Each photographer in the field has enormous responsibilities with
the switch to digital imagery and transmission. The photographer
makes the photographs, edits the work, adds the full caption, codes
the image for regional, national or international delivery and sends
works with contract photographers on big stories, such as, the President's
appearances and trips while he uses AP and others for hot news.
Stevens's remarks combined with Horst Faas's description of faster,
high-quality delivery and multiplying photographers around the globe
puts a whole new face on the photojournalism of today. As Faas put
it, "the culture of news photography has changed because of technology,"
including the use of video in this assessment. He reiterated that
"speed and equipment dominate production today."
The word "dominate"
is key here. It implies that smaller agencies are moving out of
breaking news or out of business altogether and we have seen this
begin to happen. Speed has historically been the prime mover in
the advancement of technology for photojournalism and newspaper
printing. Speed of film emulsion, speed and adaptability of the
camera, speed of the photographer to the location and subsequent
transmission or delivery of image to the organization's office,
all these aspects have been taken for granted and improved upon.
Now with instant editing and transmission in the field, groups of
news photographers fall by the wayside.
of work does not as yet affect Sports Illustrated and some other
periodicals. However, speed has pulled competitive organizations
along in its wake for the 100 years of photojournalism. Only those
who anticipate its power control it and move ahead of the pack.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK.