Monday, 29 March 2010

Publish and be damned....?

Publish and be damned, that’s how the old newspaper cliche goes- but the internet has completely obliterated that quaint old notion. In words terms anyone can say just about anything they want and there are no hyperpolice roaming the ether, truncheons pulled ready to feel collars and break heads! And even if there were, the offending copy can be removed with the click of a mouse.
In picture terms it means everyone - yes, I mean everyone, wants to see images instantly. Like yesterday! They couldn’t even wait for the length of time it takes for a Polaroid to work its magic. Think about how the majority of people view images. They are either taken and stored on their mobile phones or digital compact cameras. Showing a friend a picture of little Billy at the beach, or Jessie’s first birthday is no further than a press of a button. This is A Good Thing. Absolutely. Sharing photos amongst friends and family will always be one of the most important aspects of photography. Seeing images posted on Facebook has driven home just how valuable those memories are.
But it’s a very different deal in the world of editorial shooting. Editors want exclusives. That will never change. They pay their contributors to go out and write a story or shoot some photos and do not expect to see those photos anywhere until the the first run comes off the press all and warm and smelly (good smelly, not bad smelly) and is sitting under their nose being dissected, before some poor sub editor gets a rocket where it hurts.  Pictures shot on a commission may not actually see the light of day anything up to two or three months later. In internet terms that is a lifetime. Most netheads have long forgotten the event. The conundrum for the photographer is that he stands to gain from striking when the iron is hot. When memories are fresh and emotions still run high. That’s where event photographers win. The first thing I am asked is ‘when can I see the pictures?’. Some even want to view the images on the back of my camera. Because they can, and because that’s one of the reasons the LCD screen exists. And that’s what they do with their own cameras. So, you see, it’s hard to tell them they can see it all in its glossy (if we’re lucky) paper glory, but that they will have to wait. And the strange thing is I am the same. I shot a race yesterday knowing the pix are incubating on my drives, waiting for the right month to hatch, and yet this morning I was trawling the net looking for my own instant gratification from the very same event! As they say over there: Go Figure. But the bottom line is integrity. Being commissioned by a magazine means that publication not only trusts you to bring back the goods but also not to spill the goods en route back to the office! (of course, no one delivers images to the office by hand anymore-and God Bless the Internet for that!). It’s a dilemma. It’s temptation. What would you do?

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