Volume Based Photojournalism

Posted on 9/14/2011 by Paul Melcher | Printable Version | Comments (4)

Paul Melcher takes a look at where photojournalism is headed and outlines four key changes that will dramatically alter the future of photojournalism. He also acknowledges, though not with any sense of satisfaction, that the new photojournalism is taking some cues from the successful microstock model.

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Copyright © 2011 Paul Melcher. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • John Harris Posted Sep 15, 2011
    Forgive me but like much of what is said here, there is a self fulfilling prophecy to this, in that the more photographers are persuaded there is very little value to what they do, the less likely they are to stand up for sustainable prices. I don't think it is true that newspapers do not have the funds (anyway those that don't invest in content are on the way out) but they have been offered pictures at such a low rate by the "big boys" that peanuts is all they want to pay. Certainly, as a result of their acquisitions/mergers there are many newspapers - particularly in America, that are (like Getty) leveraged with high debt levels - I don't see why we should pay for their poor business plan. Nor is it at all clear that the “volume-based agency model" is actually profitable in any quarter! In the UK we watch the fate of Rex features, for example, with interest. Look at the coverage of the riots in the UK, dominated by one or two pictures from Getty but others got a look in, even with all the cameras around. Indeed some agencies, under resourced by "the model", found themselves casting wildly around, caught out.

    If as you say, "the volume model" is to be devastating for photographers, what will happen to the “difficult to do" picture–that which requires skill, time and commitment? They will just happen across it? Monkeys and typewriters? Seems a little unrealistic to me. Many editors are sick of wading through an ocean of mediocrity and the meaningless, vaguely and tediously surreal rubbish. What about trust...relationship? Furthermore, there may be a greater interest in photojournalism in the months & years ahead.–which, after all, thrives when narratives are contested.

  • Paul Melcher Posted Sep 15, 2011
    "what will happen to the “difficult to do" picture–that which requires skill, time and commitment?"
    They will continued to be created and displayed. Albeit only shown and seen in Photojournalism festival like Perpignan or Look3 or galleries and museums. If volume based photojournalism is a self fulfilling prophecy, " those that don't invest in content are on the way out" is wishful thinking. The recent successes of sites like Huffington Post is proof of the contrary. Even if "Many editors are sick of wading through an ocean of mediocrity and the meaningless, vaguely and tediously surreal rubbish", they are not the ones who make the financial decisions. I am not saying that I support and agree with what is going on, just stating the facts.

  • Mark W. Richards Posted Sep 17, 2011
    So when do get the good news
    I really sick of you telling us to give up
    How about something we can do for a change

  • Tom Zimberoff Posted Sep 17, 2011
    This isn't an article; it's a rant. Nonetheless, if its dreadfully poor grammar were any better than its content, it might have been worth paying for. Apparently, not only photo editors are disappearing. Whining doesn't help. I'd like to see some smart photographers proffering some potential solutions.

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