What fundamentally matters in photography, is the image, and not who took it. The end users, that is, the guy in the street, doesn’t care if an image has been taken by someone famous or not. He reacts to the image itself.
Photographers spend a lot of time trying to brand themselves with postcards, websites, talks and blogs and spend little or no time creating the right images .
A talented photographer is one that creates, over and over, the right images. Not the one who wins a prize for the best marketing. A Sebastiao Salgado can come out of nowhere and become one of the most succesful photo journalist ever, not because he knows how to brand himself, but because his images are unavoidable.
We have created the myth of the pro photographer and have tried to sell that rather than the photographs themselves. But a magazine and its readers only care about the photograph, not the person behind it. And certainly not the photo agency.
It is almost impossible for someone to be succesful in photojournalism. It is almost impossible for one person to always come out with the most compelling images and with the right story. This is why there are so many photographers and photo agencies around, because no one can solely claim superiority over it all. Readers expect the best, every single time, from sport to news, from celebrity paparazzi to travel. And no single photographer can achieve that. Not even a photo agency can claim a dominance.
We have to return to the cult of photography and abandon the cult of the photographers. We have to admire images for what they are regardless of who took them. We have to accept that their is no excellence in the human beings that manage photography, but there is perfection in the photographs themselves.
If we can accept that only the photographic image matters, than we can finally understand our roles.
On a somewhat related note, for your Week End lesson and
for anyone that understand French, Photojournalism legend Goksin Sipahioglu, speaks :
Göksin Sipahioglu, fondateur de l’agence Sipa
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