Two issues are filling photographers’ tweets, blogs and Facebook notices this week. Both are new twists in the photojournalism industry that have interesting implications.
1–Those who want to learn photography in hot zones can pay $4000 for a workshop covering the earthquake in Haiti. Hundreds of photographers are protesting this workshop on blogs, Facebook, and Lightstalkers, a forum for those who do international photojournalism.
Zoriah Miller, the workshop leader, says those who disagree don’t have to sign up. Since the initial uproar, he’s added a promise to donate much of the proceeds from the workshop to a Haiti charity. The controversy has been covered by The Huffington Post, Wired.com, and others.
The general concern is whether a natural disaster of this proportion (or any proportion) should be turned into a classroom for would-be war photographers. What business do they have to be there, and what business does Miller have taking them in? There are plenty of posts against the workshop, and only Miller’s comments in his defense. No word yet whether the workshop is full.
2– Yesterday the National Press Photographers Association announced their newest board member is entertainer Drew Carey. Board members have traditionally come from NPPA’s membership of working photographers and videographers. Strong debates on the decision are taking place on NPPA’s site, blogs, Facebook and listserves.
The controversy is whether President Dr. Bob Carey appointed Mr. Drew Carey (no relation) as a publicity stunt. What value does Drew bring to the table? It turns out that Drew Carey is a capable photographer, owns a major league soccer team, an astute business man, and an advocate for photography and a free press.
I admit I have a dog in this fight. As Secretary of NPPA, I’ve been very involved in revamping NPPA’s governance structure. The whole point was that the old model wasn’t working, and we needed some new expertise at all levels. Starting January 1, there are 6 Board Members elected by the NPPA membership at large, three members who are appointed by the president, and the officers who are mostly elected by the Board (for details, see the NPPA Bylaws.) We wanted change, and now we have it.
The other 14 board members are of still photographers, video photographers, photo editors, educators, and people who own design/multimedia businesses. Some are struggling, some are doing well financially. We elected lots of working journalists to the Board. Personally, I’m glad for a broad perspective coming to the table to try and make a dent in the industry’s problems. I don’t have a problem with mixing it up a little to see what happens.
I’m sure it will keep the blogs busy.