Shoot 4 Change meets Ed Kashi
One of the greatest photographers of our times, Ed Kashi, meets Shoot 4 Change to talk about documentary photography and its power to change the World.
S4C is grateful to Ed for spending some of his time with us thanks to the Internet.
His video-message and the following conversation is dedicated to those who believe in the social power of photography in hope it will inspire all S4C friends and photographers in their pursuit of answers to their curiosity.
Click after click we can change the World. And if we link our clicks here on Internet…it will be faster.
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A short conversation between S4C Antonio Amendola and Ed Kashi
Antonio: Hello Ed, thank you for spending sometime with us. It’s a great honour to have the chance of meeting you (albeit online, but that’s the beauty of Internet to bring together individuals, isn’t it?). Let me tell you very frankly that I was surprised to see your name among the “members” of Shoot for Change group on Facebook. I thought it was a nickname or a game. You know, it happens all the time. But after exchanging some emails with you (which proved I was wrong!) I had the opportunity to understand how much you care for social photography and its impact on raising awareness on social issues.
Reading your bio, you’re defined as photojournalist, filmmaker and educator dedicated to documenting the social and political issues of our times. It seems to me that you fully interpret our times complexity in what concern media consumption. Do you think photography alone is not enough anymore to document complex issues?
Ed: I feel that still photography can continue to play an important role in moving people’s minds, hearts and sometimes pocketbooks to help make change and improve our world. But I also realize that with the burgeoning use of media and the near ubiquitous acceptance of video and audio in new/digital media, stills might play a less important role. What is absolutely exciting is to use the mix of all 3 of these info streams; stills, video and audio, to create powerful and compelling media.
Antonio: Let’s talk about non-profit. You know better, having founded with your wife Julie Winokur the successful Talking Eyes Media company (again, “eyes” meet “voice” and other media). Do you think that it is still a valid model to talk about social issues? S4C, which is a non-profit as well, was born just for that purpose, too, and I can imagine our friends, photographers, readers asking the same question…”is this the right way to go?”
Ed: This is absolutely one of the right ways to go. Having a non-profit allows you to go for more diverse, non media sources for funding, not pay taxes on that money and not have to pay a fiscal sponsor, so you derive more funds from the grants you receive, so you can use that extra money for field work and post production of our projects. Furthermore, on a more spiritual level, you are part of an organization whose role is to create meaningful content not for profit but for the social good.
Antonio: Did you undertake the road of the photo reporter since the beginning of your photography life?
Ed: I did not. It took me years to mature enough as a human being to realize and understand how to do it, why and what to do.
Antonio: Is social photography an intellectual activity or pure expression of an artistic propension? Reading your Essays and Projects it seems to me that they are the outcome of a peculiar curiosity on Life and the necessity to find, yourself, a sense of it all.
Ed: I believe that any photographer but particularly documentary photographers, must have an intense curiosity about the world. I certainly do. Plus the desire to learn more and analyze, compare, dissect and reveal things. There is a deep desire for engagement with people and the world that informs what I do and why I do it.
Antonio: A few days ago, a video of the killing (by US military, on the ground of an alleged visual misunderstanding) of two Reuters reporters in Iraq (together with other innocents) have been released on the Internet re-igniting a debate on war photography and the danger of battlefield assignments.
For the last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about Robert Capa role as an example for generations of photo reporters. Do you agree with him that if your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough? When is “close” enough? Capa himself used to say that “It’s not always easy to stand aside and be unable to do anything except record the sufferings around one”. You’ve seen a lot in your career… what is the key requisite for a good photo reporter?
Ed: The desire to bear witness and get yourself into the right places at the right times. The ability to understand the issues and subjects you cover so your work will generate new, unique and worthwhile information, and the ability to recognize what makes a great visual story. Further, I believe it’s imperative to achieve an intimacy with your subjects, be patient, spend time and commit yourself with passion.
Antonio: S4C launched a photo contest called Shoot 4 Peace in support of Wired Italy Magazine campaign Internet 4 Peace. Photographers are called to interpret with a photo the I4P Manifesto that claims Internet is an amazingly powerful tool for peace. What do you think about new media – and Internet in particular – and their impact on your work?
Ed: I am very excited about new media, as it allows for people’s from all over the world to talk with each other, share their stories and images, develop a conversation, promote our shared values and concerns, build on each other’s work, verify, correct and improve on content, teach one another and not feel so alone. The main problem is the lack of monetization for the use of content on the internet.
Antonio: Ed, thank you very much for your time. A final quick question. What would you say to a young photo reporter-to-be?
Ed: Create an amazing and important story or body of work that you are passionate about!