The bloke from Visa – ‘Let them eat cake.’
This one has been sitting un-published for a while, so apologies for it being rather behind the curve of trending topics.
As photographers we all know the AFP/Morel situation to be completely reprehensible and that we all hope (and need for the sakes of the industry and common sense) for said photographer to win his case against the agency, lets face it photojournalism is in a state of flux with some of the oddness enveloping it,
What really narked me about the situation were the comments made by the organiser of Visa Pour l’Image, a certain Jean François Leroy. Visa is seen by most as the world’s premier photojournalism festival so you would think that his thoughts would reflect the industry and those within it? Right? Oh no!
Leroy has decreed (in an interview with the BJP) that he does not support Morel, in fact this mess is all Morel’s fault! That we, as photographers, should not be using the likes of Twitpic and flickr to post our work online.
In a strange twist, within the same article Leroy also professes to fighting for the rights of photographers for 30 years. Of course, as with all human beans, he is titled to his own opinion, but good grief what a backward opinion it is.
In a world where the internet must now dominate business plans and marketing strategies for anyone working in the photographic world his comments sound like that of someone who really isn’t living in the real world. Does he realise how much of a struggling industry his own beloved photojournalism inhabits? Social media and all it’s nuances are a part of the world, they are there to be used as extended marketing tools beyond those traditional types previously used, ignoring that and saying that photographer should not use them is burying your head in the sand and trying to wish away the effect the internet has had on our industry.
All of us need to get as much exposure as possible, we need to get ourselves out there, showing the world we are creating new and interesting content, hopefully steering potential clients and viewers to our work and if that includes throwing that amazing picture onto the internet via social media we should be safe in the knowledge that the media industry will respect our rights (just as we try to respect theirs).
In some ways Leroy’s comments are along the same lines as the supposed quote by Marie-Antoinette, who upon hearing that the peasants were starving uttered the now famous words, “Let them eat cake.” One could suggest that Jean François is as out of touch with the very photographers and industry he professes to champion, just as the Marie-Antoinette was with the French population she ruled over.
Maybe Jean François is happy, he is, after all, the organiser of the worlds largest photojournalism festival, but maybe, just maybe he should step outside his Ivory Darkroom and sniff the same realistic air that we all breath, day in, day out and have look at what’s really going outside.