“The fish is the last to know about the water”: Fred Ritchin argues photographers don’t realize how the media environment in which they work has changed.
Posted by Holly Hughes
What can professional photographers do to make sure their photos are not only seen but also trusted? Fred Ritchin, dean emeritus of the International Center of Photography and author, addressed what he called “the post-photographic challenge” at a salon, sponsored by Visura, the visual storytelling platform and grantmaker. Ritchin has been decrying the erosion of the public trust in photography since 1982, when National Geographic scanned and retouched a cover photo to move two pyramids at Giza closer together. The crisis of confidence is more acute now, at a time when the U.S. President and his supporters dismiss news they don’t like as “fake,” and AI can fabricate images of people and events (Ritchin showed several AI-generated “portraits” on the website thispersondoesnotexist.com).
In the 20th century, he said, a front-page newspaper photo could spark debate and contemplation. “We didn’t say it’s not true,” he said, “We interpreted differently, but we didn’t distrust it. We lived with it, and talked about it.” Today, we can scroll past the image with the flick of a thumb. “At this point, if you don’t like a picture you get rid of it.” While the public no longer views a professional photo as a neutral window into reality in the 21st century, he argued that a professional photographer can still engage the public by being transparent about their methods, their ethics about retouching or staging photos, their expertise, and their interaction with the subjects they photograph. Also speaking at the salon was photographer Júlia Pontés, whose photos of the impact of Brazil’s mining was recently published in Bloomberg Businessweek. Ritchin noted that knowing Pontés commitment and knowledge of Brazil makes him trust her work, and he encouraged photographers to “be more assertive” about their authorship. “We’re arguing that the photographer needs to be authoring their work, and contextualizing it as they want,” he said, “rather than turning it over to an editor who wasn’t there” when the photo was taken.
Photo captions have traditionally described the content of images, he said: “They don’t try to engage people with different kinds of information,” by posing questions or delivering additional information. He noted, “One thing photography does well is showing symptoms.”
Read the full story HERE >>>> Source: PDNPulse Can Photographers Fight “Fake News” by Asserting Authorship? | PDNPulse