The Pitch: Roundup from June 23, 2009

by Jason Preston on June 24, 2009

As usual, we had a great turnout and a lively discussion at The Pitch last night. Lucid Jazz Club was as generous as ever with their space and let us hang out for a good hour after the event, chatting and sipping the last of our drinks.

Thanks to everyone who came out and made it an interesting event!

The topic of last night’s discussion was, somewhat simplistically, “Is Photojournalism Necessary?” (The answer from the audience was a resounding: Yes!)

As I pointed out near the beginning, the question is meant to address multiple facets of the problem facing professional photojournalists (and professional photographers): practically everyone is taking photos. How do you justify your salary when, in most cases, grabbing a photo from the pro-sumer crowd is just as easy, and cheaper.

One answer that seemed to surface throughout the night was: you have to add value to your work. You can add value through a knowledge specialty (“I know everything about golf, so if you want someone to shoot golf, I’m your photog”), or through a technical specialty (“If you want someone to shoot with a Holga, I’m your photog”).

The fact is that “the crowd” is going to keep taking, and distributing, news photos (spot photos). Rather than fighting that fact, the future of photojournalism is in doing what the crowd can’t do well. In other words, it’s about making photography a profession again.

It was a really smart conversation with a really interested and passionate group of people. I’m looking forward to watching photojournalism develop with new imaging and distribution technology, and seeing how the craft changes as more photographers learn to work for the web.