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December 4th, 2009

Multimedia of the Month: Is online ideal for images?

Posted by Benjamin Chesterton

Former BBC radio producer Benjamin Chesterton and photojournalist David White, as the multimedia production team duckrabbit, build high-quality multimedia pieces, provide insights on their blog, and help photographers through multimedia training sessions. Once a month on RESOLVE, Ben highlights a multimedia piece and explains why it works. This month, he’s been working overtime, and it might have finally caught up with him.
The front page of Phil Toledano's Days With My Father microsite.

The front page of Phil Toledano's "Days With My Father" microsite.

During a recent talk at Amnesty International, I freaked out the organizers a bit by suggesting that the web was not the best place to see images. They had booked me for a debate in which I was supposed to be arguing for the greatness of the digital revolution, in which we can see everything for free, all of the time.

In the last year I’ve looked at so much multimedia and taken in so much photography that I’ve completely lost a sense of perspective and awe in what I’m looking at. It’s slightly pathetic,  but the critical, sometimes cynical eye I’ve developed keeps me from getting too close, too intimate with anything I look at. Before, I used to just enjoy looking at an image, a simple but wonderful pleasure — now I consume it and spit it out the other side, like a wine taster who sucked on too much vinegar.

“I’m worn out on multimedia and its endless possibility.”

At my Amnesty talk I spoke about getting up one morning to find a book come in the post from Joseph Rodriguez. It was a great moment. One to be treasured. Our lives touched, his work seeping into mine. I felt energized.

But right now I feel like slamming the door on multimedia, I’m worn out on its endless possibility. Exhausted.

So what can I offer this month? Two things.

One to illustrate a point and the other because when I look at it, the work it transcends all of my exhaustion and reminds me what it is to be a human, to love and to lose and also to be lost.

Phillip Toledano‘s “Days With My Father” is a masterpiece. Its a love letter that has nothing to do with any of us but that is written in such a way that it could have come from the pages of any of our lives. Its a gift and it proves that I was wrong, the web can be the best place to experience photography. The experience can be utterly transformative. No more words needed — just check it out.

I came across the the second multimedia feature I want to flag via Twitter. It’s astonishing. A panoramic image of a Nairobi street that takes the YouTube video six minutes to travel down. It comes from the book Trading Places, The Merchants of Nairobi by Steve Bloom.  It held my attention for at least a minute before I got bored and moved on. Had I come across this image in a gallery, though, I would have spent a lot longer examining and re-examining it.

So maybe I was right in the first place and the web is not the best place to view images. What do you think?


  1. December 4th, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Paul Hardy Carter

    Absolutely damn right! The web is great as a way of allowing countless people a glimpse of a picture, or for using a picture as illustration, but as a medium for allowing people to engage with work it's hopeless.

    I still shoot film. The pictures are on the web – of course – but the difference between what you see on your $200 monitor and what you see hanging on the wall of a gallery, crafted in a darkroom using years of experience and skill, is like the difference between a paper aeroplane and a fighter jet.

  2. December 4th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Multimedia » Multimedia of the Month: Is online ideal for images? | RESOLVE …

    […] More: Multimedia of a Month: Is online preferred for images? | RESOLVE … […]

  3. December 4th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    This month’s post on Resolve | duckrabbit - we produce beautifully crafted multimedia

    […] This month’s post on Resolve duckrabbit is an occasional contributor to RESOLVE […]

  4. December 5th, 2009 at 12:23 pm


    does it matter if your pictures are boring anyway?

  5. December 7th, 2009 at 5:53 pm


    I couldn't agree with you more. It took me awhile to get to the point where I believe the web is not the best place for images, but as of today–I am there. My partner has been telling me forever that photographers' blogs, in particular, in the wedding industry, are crammed full of large images–one after another, after another, and that those images all blend together, in effect stripping away the power of a single image. We see hundreds of the same types of images over and over again and each image's impact becomes lost.

    We've gone back and forth and back and forth about it. I always feel competitive, like–hey those other wedding shooters have a million images up, so should we. Your post underscored what he has been telling me forever–as photojournalists (even wedding photojournalists) we should remain true to the power of one image. That's why we got into this business in the first place.

    It took me awhile, but I get it . . .

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