Last week it was suggested that the disaster in Haiti was of such a great magnitude that anyone on the ground with a cellphone could make lasting images that the rest of the world would never forget.
Not likely, (I thought) but I gave it a week.
After thousands of images, on dozens of different sites, my initial reaction was confirmed. World shocking events such as this need to be properly documented by great photographers. I'm not even talking photojournalists here. Think of Joel Meyerowitz's work on the World Trade Center as an example.
Sure, the usual players got professionals on the ground, and they did a very good job under trying conditions. There were some good images made, but by and large, the coverage was very weak.
I'm not just talking about the image quality, but the presentation. Online, you don't have the tools of image size, or placement to impact viewers. A slideshow is a slideshow. Besides filling up the viewers screen, there's not much more you can do to make it different or better (besides having great images of course).
Oh yeah, you could try editing a little bit. There's no photographer working today that can hold a viewer's attention and deliver lasting impact throughout a fifty image slideshow (created from a few hours shooting). Editors, your job is to get the best images possible, and then edit them in a meaningful way. Not to throw-up ever image that you possible can, as fast as you can.
For those publications that insist on regenerating ads for each image on your slideshow, shame on you. The market will eventually punish you for this.
There's more to write on this subject. I promise to do it soon, but my flight is boarding.
One more thing that doesn't work. You know that new body imaging machine that the TSA is trying out? I gave it a go today. Now, not only do you still have to remove all the metal items from your clothing, but you also have to remove all paper and plastic items as well.
How does that make sense?
I mean, even the fact that there will soon be bootlegged, naked images of me and my fellow travelers on the internet as soon as the system gets hacked (or perhaps a Freedom of Information request gets approved) doesn't make it any better.