Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ed Kashi: Why You Must Diversify & Collaborate

Visual journalist extraordinaire Ed Kashi shares excellent advice on the LiveBooks Photojournalism Blog today: "To create change, storytellers must conquer multiple media platforms."

It’s not enough anymore to create work for one media platform, especially if you intend to raise awareness about issues or are trying to effect change. Now when I create a new project as a photojournalist or with Talking Eyes Media, the non-profit production company I founded with my wife, Julie Winokur, we have our eyes on expanded opportunities for distribution: the web, social media, books, exhibitions, T.V., lectures, workshops, academic applications, and NGO collaborations. There are undoubtedly even more I haven’t thought, of and we’re always looking for new options.
Kashi emphasizes the necessity for photographers to master the various aspects of multimedia:

To work in this multi-platform landscape, you must develop skills beyond still photography. You should at least be proficient at gathering and editing audio, and preferably you’d also understand video and be able to handle post production to produce a finished piece.
Another advantage of interactivity is that you not only get instant feedback and contributions from your audience (which includes the people whose lives you are reporting about), but also an extra audience boost from the audience itself, who can be eager to share your work, and thus help with its distribution.

This is an important aspect of multi-platform storytelling: It can easily be disseminated to a wide variety of audiences. It also provides the means for those audiences to talk back with the photographer/producer about the work. It is exciting to being able to create a groundswell of interest in this way, by building a feedback loop between the documentarian, their subject, and the audience.
Multimedia requires more collaboration, and Kashi touts the advantages of teamwork -- not only during the creative process....

And what was once a solitary process, working as a still photographer, now takes on dimensions of collaboration, visual explorations, and deeper engagement with my subjects through audio capture.
... but also for disseminating your work...

I recommend that photographers have a vision for not only the the issue you’re reporting on, but also what larger impact you want to achieve and how you see it being distributed and utilized. One key is to work with a great editor who shares your vision and purpose. Editing for a book or editorial essay is vastly different than producing a short multimedia piece. As is curating an exhibition or lecture or teaching tool.

My experience has taught me that collaborating with like-minded people who share my vision and — most importantly — my sense of purpose for the issue at hand is the easiest path to making my vision a reality. I cannot do this alone. Luckily the the working relationships I’ve learned to develop with writers, editors, producers, audio people, and videographers not only help make our projects happen, they also provide creative collaboration that is exciting and deeply rewarding.
Read Ed Kashi's essay here, and be sure to visit his Talking Eyes Media Website.

Also, check out some of Kashi's remarkably diverse work that has been showcased on KobreGuide:

* The Sandwich Generation
See the challenges faced by an estimated 20 million Americans who have to take care of aging relatives.

* Curse of the Black Gold
The Niger Delta is rich in oil, yet Nigerians living there are poorer than ever, violence is rampant, and the land and water are fouled.

* A Meaningful New Mission
Retired Navy officer Rick Koca founded Stand Up for Kids to help homeless teens. In the process of changing their lives, he reinvented his own.

* India's Fast Lane to the Future
A new superhighway linking its four major cities is bringing old and new India into jarring proximity... for better and worse.

* Friends for Life
Timeless tale of two seniors who meet by chance and provide mutual support and affection for each other as they age.

* Arab Christians: The Forgotten Faithful
Followers of Jesus for 2,000 years are disappearing from the volatile land where their faith was born.

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