Blognotes from a photographer life...

Aug 16, 2010


Another follow up to the ongoing discussion on the Travel Photography crisis/changes in the world. Some friends suggested that publishers should be the principal actors in the evolution of the market. They should create publications (on paper or on the web) that answer the changing expectations of the public, still pointing to a quality that should give reasons to search for something else (e.g. better) then the avalanche of images freely available on the net. Yes, they should: if they were still there. Unfortunately real publishers are gone from several years!
Big good publishing names are still there (Time Inc, Newsweek, NYT, Gruner, The Time, NGS and others) but they represent only a small portion of the Travel Publishing world market. And the problem in basically on quality evaluation.
An long experienced editor, Luciano di Pietro, that just retired after a life spent in reporting and publishing, pointed out the essence of the drama. He said that real publishers had gone leaving their companies in the hands on managers with no attention at all to contents and quality. The Italian story is emblematic. We had really great guys who started a florid season of media evolution in the 60s: Mondadori, Rusconi, Rizzoli created little empires still prolific. They were entrepreneurs, looking for profit, but recognized the value of quality and would not renounce an author they considered valuable. They have been replaced today by managers (the dreaded CEO) that come from different industries and go to others with only numbers in their minds. There is only the cost of a photo in proportion to the page-filled space, the quality of it is insignificant. Their major attention is to their personal careers, determined by the profit realized in the few years of activity in this industry. Why they should worry if they'll be selling burgers in a year of two?
Of course this is not always the case, but it is for the vast majority of the market, and this trend has compromised not only the quality offered but the public expectations as well. The real question is, in fact, how many people will appreciate quality over fast-consuming quantity in the near future? Will the young generations still appreciate good images over mobile snapshots? The multinationals wish, work and push for a massified, low requiring market, and they are strong. But we can resist, resist resist....

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