Photojournalism: Brought To You By You

Photo by Tomas van Houtryve

Wired’s Raw File blog has a report on  Emphas.is, the new crowdfunding site for photojournalism. In it, acclaimed documentary photographer Tomas van Houtryve  talks about his experience as one of the first to use the site since its much-delayed launch on March 7.

Van Houtryve, who is raising money for his “21st Century Communism” project that documents the remaining Communist countries, seems at the same time excited about the site’s potential and frustrated about all the technical glitches he’s experienced so far — he actually had to start the project on his own site first until Emphas.is could get its act together. Still, he says:

“Backers have started to pose relevant questions. As my project proposal has made its way through social networks and attracted support from strangers, I’ve made some really fruitful new connections. In addition to generous funding contributions, several individuals have stepped forward with key contacts and very precise and helpful advice. I have already managed to make stronger photos due to their input. This is a pleasant shift over the lone-wolf existence.”

The model for Emphas.is is the same as Kickstarter, only it’s solely devoted to photojournalism projects, so presumably you sort the wheat from the chaff and attract people who are very committed to photojournalism. Plus, they’re promising world-class photographers are going to use this platform, and the backers will get to connect to projects in a personal way.

As the site says, “Apart from the satisfaction of seeing an important project realized, you are invited to tag along on the journey.” It remains to be seen whether this model could be a savior of sorts for photojournalism, but it does look like there will be some good journeys to tag along on.

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