Sign of the times…

Sad to hear this week of the demise of yet another news photo agency. When I moved to Hampshire last winter I started shooting ad-hoc press work for Picture It Now, a very successful small news photo agency based just down the road from me in Horndean. 

Principal Rod Kirkpatrick said in a letter to contributors….”We are changing what we do at Picture It Now. After close analysis of the types of images that we sell, we will now be concentrating on the more unique/exclusive picture sets. Much of my time has been spent sending out ‘diary’ and breaking news images that compete directly with other agencies’ output. The papers have become far more cost conscious and are using more photos supplied by subscription agencies than they used to. When they do use our speculative content the prices are continuing to fall. For the foreseeable future, or until the photography market shifts, we will not be sending out contributors’ images from live general news, diary or photo-call events”. 

I’m fortunate in that my core business is commercial photography and I only shoot the odd press job for old times sake, but the truth of the matter is no full-time professional press photographer can continue to criss-cross the country at their own expense on the off-chance of selling a half page pic to the Mirror for £40, or do a day shift for  The Guardian for £130.  As a result I think in the next few years we will see a gradual decline in the quality of photography in our papers.  How long will it be before the readership finally gets fed up with video grabs and phone camera smudges – and what will the media moguls do then to satisfy their shareholders as sales inevitably fall ?  I know we’re along way from the glory days of Picture Post and real photojournalism, but who can’t remember an iconic press photo. Whether it’s Nick Ut’s famous  photograph of severely burned young Vietnamese girl running from her napalmed village or the twin towers falling, everyone remembers at least one truly great picture – and as more agencies fall by the wayside, there will be fewer good photographers around to take them…

       Photo © Nick Ut

One Comment

  1. Hi Chris

    The whole world is becoming utterly and totally depressing, with a world of people who seem generally to be happy with utter crap as long as it’s cheap. With photography of course it’s even more noticeable, as billions of cheap and nasty images are ejaculated over bored snoring mouths.

    We have a new generation who seem even less aware of environmental and political issues than ever before, compounded with the fact that they have little visual awareness and seem happy to perpetuate tired techniques mistakenly believing they are actually doing something new.

    In my opinion, unless the global population learns to love and care for the world it lives on, and learns to value the amazing things we can all do, then the closure of a quality news agency is nothing more than a symptom of the rot which is now well and truly established worldwide.

    You and I are part of a generation gone, where the quality and meaning of words and images meant something. We are now living in a world of photographic sweet wrappers.

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