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31 Luglio Lug 2013 1012 31 luglio 2013

Q & A with Michael Christopher Brown: iPhone reporter

Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - Instagram - in the hills of #southkivu #congo #drc

Dopo aver parlato del futuro del fotogiornalismo nell'era di Instagram, ho fatto qualche domanda a Michael Christopher Brown, fotogiornalista che lavora ormai solo con iPhone ed è entrato a far parte di Magnum, la più prestigiosa agenzia di fotografi del mondo.

Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - Instagram - Airport #goma #drc #congo #northkivu

AG: I believe that a good photograph depends more on the photographer's eye than any techinical tool, but there is still a lot of people - especially photograhers - strongly criticizing pictures that I find great but maybe poor from a technical point of view. what is your opinion? I think you can always learn the technics but you can not buy an eye, is maybe this that frustrates them?

MCB: I agree, what is important is the eye. Critics are motivated by a variety of factors, but I like them because it is important to be criticized. Much of it is negative, but sometimes there are things one can learn. Also, as long as the imagery is good or unique, criticism is good for business.

Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - Instagram - Soldier's home #congo #drc #northkivu #rwindi #fardc

AG: What are the feedbacks that you get more often for your mobile reportage?

MCB: The feedback has been similar to someone asking another if they like the Grateful Dead - that is, either you love them or hate them. Some love them and others hate them. Personally, I love them, and it does not bother me that someone else may not love them. I have the same perspective with regards to mobile reportage.

Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - Instagram - Training #congo #drc #northkivu #rwindi #fardc

AG: What do you think of all the ongoing controversy in photojournalism about this search for a truth that we all know does not exist in photography, to the point that every year there are endless articles after the announcement of the results of the WPP about how retouched where the pictures? where would you set your boundaries?

Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - The Libyan Revolution (2012)

MCB: I think we spend too much time criticizing, or glorifying, rather than innovating. We need to put our energy into changing photojournalism, which is different now than it was 50 or even 10 or 5 years ago. That said, the world of photography has different languages and each language should be respected. If one wants to hold a contest for RAW images only then fine, I am all for it, but they should admit that RAW imagery also manipulates reality, by flattening its color and contrast, and not criticize those who may not agree with them.

Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - Instagram - #fardc prepare for a patrol in #goma #drc #congo #northkivu

AG: What do you think is the main difference between the online use of photography today and in the paper, and what do you think it should be?

MCB: The main differences include audience size, speed of delivery and ease of interactivity. The most exciting photographic development is Instagram, designed for amateurs with the idea that people feel a need to share their story and vision of the world, whether it is their new bikini or their newborn child. As photography becomes more democratic, professionals need to embrace this democratization and not brush it aside, in denial of its power. We will continue to become less powerful until we recognize that our methodology and delivery is outdated. If tens of millions of people are inspired by Instagram, and if we do have some responsibility, we should not only be using it as a delivery platform but we should be at the forefront of innovation.

Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - Instagram - the sister of serge maheshe, a human rights activist killed in 2007, at their home in #bukavu #congo #drc

AG: In an interview you said: "That said, there is a certain craft one develops as a photojournalist that an amateur is not able to replicate. One becomes a journalist and a photographer, both themselves a craft and an art. One becomes an expert in doing this, an independent voice with a certain credibility: “I was there, and this is what I saw.” This is more important now than ever, like in Syria where journalists have become activists due to their situation. There are few independent voices and independent foreign journalists on the ground to verify anything coming out of that country. As a result, the world is caring less and less as time goes on, because no one knows who to believe" - can you tell me more about this because it is a point a really care about, as I think it also count for us photo editors, in a recent article for instance Fred Ritchin stated "We need curators to filter this overabundance more than we need new legions of photographers".

MCB: Well this is why professional, credible, journalists are necessary, and why there is, inevitably, no threat from the amateur - so long as a paying public continues to respect professional journalistic reporting, above all else.

Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - The Libyan Revolution (2012)

AG: There should be a rethinking of being a photojournalism, because evidently staying on the spot news does not make any more sense, but we do need the voices of professional, as you where saying and I totally agree with you, but while all budgets are shrinking, where do you think you professional should focus?

Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - Instagram - joseph runs rainbow sunrise, an #LGBT organization in #bukavu. last weekend he was beaten and imprisoned by police, who accused him of damaging congolese culture by promoting homosexuality (for being homosexual) #drc #congo #southkivu

MCB: Well, as you may know, I do not consider myself a news photographer but someone interested in a variety of photographic genres. I work as a photojournalist, but find inspiration outside the field of photojournalism. In general, it is not photography that interests me, I try to use photography to explore certain subjects. These subjects vary from year to year, depending on what is most inspiring at the time. Perhaps a news professional should proceed in the same manner. That is, they need to make a living but they also have an refined ability to explore beyond the news, into issues and subjects that most uniquely interest them. That word ‘uniquely’ is most important, as it involves being open and experimenting with different methodologies that fit a particular subject at a particular time.


Photo by Michael Christopher Brown - Instragram - Funeral for a FARDC soldier, who killed his wife before taking his own life, at a cemetary in Kanyabayonga. #fardc #drc #congo #northkivu

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