Could this be the future of photojournalism?

Crowdfunding may just be the solution that ensures high quality documentary photo essays remain viable in future.  I’d like to share two examples with you.  The first is a young and highly talented photographer, the second a veteran photojournalist with an illustrious career that has taken him around the globe more times than I dare to guess.

Matt Eich has been on people’s radars for years in the Photojournalism community.  In 2006 he was named College Photographer of the Year and recently he was named one of PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch.    I remember fondly the day he received the $10,000 scholarship (the BIG prize of the workshop) at the Eddie Adams workshop.   I was fortunate enough to be a team leader there that year – and seeing him receive the prize was a highlight of the workshop for everyone involved.  If you look at his resume – specifically at the “Accolades” section – it doesn’t seem like he’s looked back ever since. He’s racked up an incredible array of awards, distinctions and grants.

Matt has worked for many of the top magazines and newspapers in the country, but clearly photojournalist now need to look to different avenues of sharing their documentary work with their audiences.  This is especially true if photojournalist want to work long-term on a project.   No magazine out there these days can afford to have someone working on a true long term project.  As magazine page count numbers and budgets continue to decline, the internet seems poised to fill that void.  Here is an example of one of his latest projects:

What is exciting to me, beyond the quality of Matt’s work, is that the web is also allowing him to find a way to fund his projects by connecting with his audience directly.  In this case Matt has a page on emphas.is – a crowdfund visual journalism site.

While some may think that it is a shame that most magazines can no longer afford to pay documentary photojournalists to work on long term projects for them,  I would counter that they seldom have been able to in the past.   Only a handful of photojournalists working for the top 12 or so magazines from around the world have had that luxury in the past decade for the most part.   Therefore I’m very excited to see this new trend emerging – and hope that many of you will look to work on similar projects through similar avenues.   The documentary photo essay is still one of the most important and effective ways to record our history on this earth – not to mention incredibly powerful.

Speaking of which – another friend of mine, and an incredibly established and award winning National Geographic photographer Gerg Ludwig is also working on a very relevant project on Chernobyl  called “The Long Shadow of Chernobyl” (timely given what I hope WON’T happen in Japan…)   He has reached his initial goal on Kickstarter – but as he mentioned in the project description – his ultimate goal is of $25,000 to cover his expenses for the trip.  There are FOUR DAYS LEFT to donate!!!

I am going to support Matt & Gerd – and hope you too will consider doing so.  (And support other photojournalists as well!)

This btw- is a model that filmmakers and many artists of course will also come to embrace I’m sure!