The rise of anthro-journalism?
Published in MONTREAL MIRROR by Patrick Lejtenyi – September 8, 2011
Don’t tell Matthieu Rytz photojournalism is dead. Sure, there are fewer job opportunities than there were, and it’s harder to grab eyeballs with blogs, photo-sharing and social media sites multiplying like Tribbles. But Rytz sees technology as a double-edged sword. Getting your pictures, and getting your pictures out there, has never been easier thanks to technological advances in the past decade, and with the wire services not what they used to be, more photographers are focusing on long-term storytelling, narrative-driven and operating outside the tradi-tional, rigid rules of the industry.
Rytz, the 30-year-old artistic director of Productions Foton and founder/CEO of Anthropographia, two locally based photography/ documentary non-profit organizations promoting photo-journalism in Quebec, is taking over the organizing of World Press Photo’s Montreal exhibit. When the exhibit’s previous host, the Just for Laughs museum, closed last November, Rytz saw the opportunity to fill the void. “We went to Amsterdam [where WPP is based] and made a pitch,” he says over the phone from Perpignan, France, where he’s attending the Visa pour l’image photojournalism festival. “They took our proposal. It was a lot of luck and good timing.”
The Swiss native (his English is good, though he speaks with a noticeable French accent) says the field’s evolution means photographers themselves have been able to push boundaries beyond traditional journalism. “I don’t like the term ‘artistic,’” he says. “I prefer the term ‘aesthetic.’ Before, the rules for photojournalism were very strict. But today, the same work can be more personal. The tradition in press photos was to present information in a more factual, truthful way, but now we can explore different areas.”
With print media in decline (and how many more times is that cliché going to be used?), photojournalists are being forced into adjusting how they both work and how they get work. “The difference between wire service work and long-term projects is, photographers are getting more in-depth, more anthropological, more sociological—that’s my point of view,” says Rytz, who describes him-self as a “visual anthropologist.” “Most of the good photographers can do both.”
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