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June 16th, 2009

Notes from Festival of the Photograph: Young shooters find strength in collectives and the blogosphere

Posted by liveBooks

It’s not very often that I return from a photo festival with a cohesive message or even a consistent idea. But I spent a lot of time at LOOK3: Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville last week talking with the up-and-coming young photographers who are being given the chance to shape the photo industry in a tangible way. Starting out as a photographer today, especially as a photojournalist, means nothing is certain. So it’s reassuring to hear that young photographers understand that this time of uncertainty is also an opportunity for evolution.

One way photographers are facing many challenges is by banding together into artist collectives, such as Luceo Images, MJR, Aevum, EVE, and Oeil Public. In the video below, Matt Eich (Luceo), Tim Hussin, Mustafah Abdulaziz (MJR), and Matt Craig (MJR) explain what they’re excited about in photography now. I also had conversations along these lines with Matt Slaby (Luceo), Kevin German (Luceo), Danny Ghitis, and Michael Christopher Brown. Although rubbing elbows with legends is always fun, these young shooters are most excited about their contemporaries and the camaraderie between them.

Michael Shaw, creator of the BAGnewsNotes blog and a RESOLVE contributor, is also excited about these young photographers and the collectives they’ve started, because they treat blogging as a vital, necessary part of their careers and distribution plans. Sometimes they strive to be featured on blogzines like Verve Photo, DVAFoto, and Flak Photo, which highlight great work by (mostly) emerging photographers. There are also blogs like That’s a Negative and We Can Shoot Too, that focus on work by photographers in specific places (Portland, OR, and Los Angeles, in this case). Other times they use the blog format to promote the achievements of their own members, as with the Luceo and MJR blogs.

Despite Michael’s quip about “older photographers,” I do have to mention that Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey, one of the dons of photojournalism, is also on the front lines with his online magazine, burn, which is working toward assigning original photography to emerging and established photographers — something Michael has been doing for years at BAGnewsNotes. David presented a very fun, sexy video promo for burn at the festival that includes an annual Blurb book and lots of other intriguing possibilities for new distribution models.

What am I forgetting? I’m still decompressing from four days of festival and sleep deprivation, so please let me know about other collectives, cool blogzines, or other innovative photo projects in the comments. Plus, we’re raffling off a free liveBooks Photojournalism website in honor of LOOK3 — email with your name and email to enter. You can also enter the promo code liveBooksLOOK3 and get a discounted liveBooks Photojournalism website (email for details).

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