The unfortunate fate of the Chicago Sun-Times’ fulltime photography staff makes me think about how photography’s value has changed since I first started making photographs as a 14 year old in 2003. The photographers may stay on as freelancers, but the fact remains that the newspaper doesn’t value the use of photography to the point where they are not willing to invest in human beings with office hours, editor feedback, and regular paychecks.
As a college student I came to understand photography’s ability to tell a story, in such a way that differentiates a journalist’s still images from the still images of amateurs. This is where I learned value was created, how I was going to earn a living and be rewarded for good work.
The unanswered question in my mind is whether the public’s idea of value in photography has changed, or if it just the old white men in rooms trying to figure out how a struggling major metro newspaper is going to survive to the next Christmas advertising season. Could it be a little of both? Both that the crusty old journalism establishment still hasn’t figured out how the internet works (PEOPLE LIKE PHOTOS, LOTS OF EM), or that photojournalistic images are just easier to get from other sources besides a newspaper. But what do I know? I’m just a butthurt ex-newspaper photographer.
While Boston.com’s Big Picture, Time’s Lightbox, and the New York Times’ Lens, show that storytelling photographs remain popular, I still have yet to be convinced that this public interest is monetized to the extent necessary to support the masses of professional photographers like myself who want to tell stories, but instead do something else “more valuable.”
Anyways, here is a photo I took at the CMA Music Festival of the front row of a concert. Seriously, is this how regular people enjoy a concert?