As I sit packing in Delhi waiting to go to the South on a story, a good friend, Martin Beddall emails me about a programme (‘Overexposed’) he was interviewed for on BBC Radio a while ago. Martin was a postgraduate student on the photojournalism course at the (then) London College of Printing nearly twenty years ago. Another former student, Miles Warde has retraced the fate of some former classmates. As the BBC has it:
“Miles Warde presents the story of a group of photojournalists who set out to witness world events. They went to Yugoslavia, Angola, Chechnya, Gaza and Iraq. Two of them were shot dead. A compelling portrait of youthful ambition and the power of photography to change the world”.
The programme, originally broadcast on Monday 25 Jan 2010 is available on BBC iPlayer for another week.
Although I wasn’t a student on the course, I was around the same time finding my feet and as I’ve written previously, was friends with and worked alongside two photographers, Paul Jenks and James Miller who were both subsequently killed.
An odd feeling listening: my friend Gary Calton is featured as well and his and Martin’s comments ring very true. As a generation we seemed to have wanted to change the world. Was it because we had come through the politics-stained 1970’s that were in turn coloured by the 1960’s? I don’t know but I sense something now has changed. The myth of the great days of the magazine photographer has been exposed. There are no great magazines left to run work: TV, video and now the internet has won. We live in a more cynical age and we are all a little older, if not a little wiser.Many of us are struggling to find a way to say the things that still need saying. Perhaps it will not be through photography.
And the world needs changing more than ever…
3 replies on “Overexposed (?)”
You could also argue the former era was the cynical one, and the internet has lifted the veil from a lot of the toss and boolsheet surrounding photojournalism.
The myth has been exposed and thats a good thing.
What’s been interesting to me about the recent Haiti coverage is a certain element of audience backlash against the patronising cliches that have been the backbone of photojournalism for far, far too long.
The world needs changing more than ever. Its a shame photojournalists didn’t change with it.
I couldn’t agree more. However, I still think that journalism is, and can be, a vehicle for positive change. I just see less and less contemporary photographers who have this as a touchstone. My point was that I belonged to a generation – of the Thatcher era – who was politicised and, however naively, sought to bring that into their journalism. I see much less of that now. The Haiti issue is in itself a cynical mirror to that.
[…] colleague, Tim Hetherington had been killed. I have written before about colleagues being killed (here and here) but I think that there’s very little I actually want to say about this episode. […]