Friday, 21 December 2007

International Herald Tribune 2007 in Pictures

I was just about to post a comment on the International Herald Tribune's 2007 Year in Pictures when I came across this Aaron's Photoblog -

Here is a blogger into his photography and praising the power of photo journalism and he remarks he was able to only spot 'a couple' of pictures in the IHT's Special Report with that real WOW factor.

Exactly. Just a couple.

I thought the whole thing was a pretty strong indictment of the IHT's failings in the photo-journalism department. I know many people in the newspaper business who think the IHT just doesn't run good photos.

Of course they don't have their own staff photographers - they use NYT or any of the number of photo agencies - but the real problem is I think deeper. For many years, the IHT didn't even have a full-time photo-editor and it was a real mish-mash of people who made the call on what photos to use, many of them with no eye for good photo journalism.

Infamously, I recall 9/11 when, with hundreds of photo's to go with, then editor David Ignatius elected to put on the front page a grainy screen grab from a TV shot we had all already seen a hundred times before we got to 10/11.

I would agree with this photo blogger and say there are perhaps just a couple of really outstanding shots in the report which was just long enough to accommodate a double page spread advert from Nikon.

My guess is that the impetus for this special report came from advertising - and Nikon's ad agency - and the net result was a poorly conceived, poorly executed selection of photos. Were these REALLY the stand-out shots from 2007? Was someone in editorial a bit pissed-off at having to put this together at the request of an advertiser.

OK, lead paint on Thomas the Tank engine was a big story, but I don't think any of us need to see a picture of little Tom in the IHT's 2007 Year in Pictures. There are lots of good photo-journalism reviews of the year around at this time of year, and this isn't the one I will pull and keep for my scrap-book.

I don't wish to say that the photos run in the IHT haven't got a hole lot better in the last few years, but as this report shows, there is still some way to go.

And if a newspaper can't choose good photos for print, it sure ain't equipped to choose good ones for other media platforms which demand even more of them.

Question: do and the print edition share the same photo editors? My guess is no, but please do enlighten me.


cinefile said...

overall the IHT picture review was disappointing - which is a pity because generally the standard of writing is so high - the agencies do a much better job with photo-journalism - hard to see any making it into a photojournalism review/collection of the year

schauba said...

First off, thanks for the link to my photoblog. I just noticed it in my Technorati stats today.

Secondly, I think you might be a little hard on IHT. To have "a couple" of images that hit you in the gut is still a remarkable accomplishment. There are literally an infinite number of moments that you can capture as a photographer and only a slight handful are the gut-wrenching, grab-you-by-the-lapels-and-shake-you variety. It takes a lot of resources to get those shots: people, knowledge, connections, and travel budget.

If the IHT does not have photojournalism as a top priority, they won't get these shots consistently. Based on your post, this seems to be the case. If that is a valid assumption, IHT did pretty well. If they do have photojournalism as a top priority, they need to re-evaluate their efforts.

My impression of IHT has been that the photos are definitely second fiddle to the text news and that the photos are included mostly because the public expects them. In contrast we have publication like Time who arguably places its photojournalism on par with its journalism.

That's my $0.02, or €0.02 for those of you in the EU.

Anonymous said...

Here's a handy link to the competition's best of 2007 photos: