Interview with Fred Ritchin (Bending The Frame)

In order to make sure my research on Fred Ritchin’s writing was comprehensive I made sure to revisit the interview held with him by Jonathan Worth in which he discussed the ideology behind Bending The Frame. My notes and evaluation can be seen below:

Will people disbelieve photographs?

  • In Our Image – 1990
  • Russell Brand from Adobe went on TV to broadcast the program of Photoshop – he put himself in a photograph to show how easy it is to manipulate a photograph
  • Ritchin said that if everyone will do this there will be a loss of belief in the image – the photograph will no longer be a “quotation” of reality, the mechanism of documentary photography is the concept that once you’ve framed a scene you can only do slight style changes to the image not completely disrupt it
  • Photographs have lost their credibility – it is good that people are less naiive, one of the reasons why the images of the killing of Osama Bin Laden weren’t released was because the government didn’t think the public would believe them
  • There is no longer a credibility with the witness – in the news images we really don’t know what’s going on, we can’t depend on a photograph or a video without the knowledge that it could have been manipulated
  • Man has the power to make the world that of their own image, photographs must conform to their own image rather than proposing or exposing an alternative view
  • Previously photo-manipulation was only accessible to high end corporations such as the National Geographic – the manipulation was to effectively move back in time and move the photographer – we are looking at a completely different era in the making and perceiving of images
  • In terms of being an author of the text/photographer there is a feeling of a voice being diminished when editors choose to manipulate the content.
  • In photographs there used to be a safety because people couldn’t read photographs which is why Ritchin moved in photo-editing because the photograph could suggest so much more and give people many different interpretations
  • The choice of images from some editors are confusing- there was an iconic image of a classical pianist which they disliked because it suggested he was creative, they didn’t think that classical musicians were creative; only Jazz were creative. Ritchin then found an image of a young jazz player in an apartment looking to the sky – they didn’t like the fact he was looking up in the sky because it could suggest something different.
  • As a photo-editor you can have much more impact and argue for the right images to be shown- could be more useful as a photo-editor as there are many photographers but not many photo-editors
  • ‘A vision of Iran’ was one of the first influences of subjective journalism as it was one vision of Iran – Ritchin was told by his boss that they never liked it
  • We need subversive media to counteract the definitive viewpoint
  • The point of photography is not to celebrate itself but to be useful in the world
  • The internet was very much a liberation from the pay model – people could access free content rather than paying a monthly fee from an organisation like the Times
  • Ritchin did work on multimedia possibilities – taking a conventional photo essay and producing a multimedia version as an experiment. The idea was to branch away from war and to try to show peace using Bosnia as an example as a peace treaty has just been signed. Worked with Peress, he would should the footage and take the photographs and Fred Ritchin edited the footage and images. It took around seven weeks to edit a nonlinear narrative as opposed to taking a day to edit a linear narrative
  • You had to take each image and try to think of all the links that it had with the other content- this is the key of non linear narrative deciding which images the viewer would go to when they clicked a singular image.
  • People weren’t used to clicking on image, Ritchin has to suggest to people that you could click on the image because people weren’t used to engaging and interacting with an image in that respect
  • Instead of conventional media telling you what’s going on you as the reader/viewer have to collaborate with the photographer/content producer to make sense of the situation
  • This was presented as a stand alone however it was rejected because it wasn’t in paper form, traditional organisations have been slow on engaging with digital technology
  • Digital media has a different architecture to analogue media as it is mostly code based
  • If we knew the consequences of the automobile at the time of making it, what would we have done to start changing it differently
  • Digital photography is not more efficient photography it is just a different way of self expression and describing the world – David Rogebury used cameras to visualize music
  • Sometimes it’s good to be a bit more pragmatic and show examples
  • What we used to consider marginal photography is now mainstream and the conventional mainstream media is collapsing
  • How can we avoid the apocalypse not how can we wait for it to happen so we can make good photographs of it – proactive photography/reactive photography
  • Instead of there being one way to frame the world – there are multiple ways to frame the world
  • The insider telling the outsiders what is going on – how can be hybridise media and take the best from the citizen and the best from the journalists to produce a new effective form of media
  • We need to build new bridges into the understanding of the world instead of waiting for the horrors and showing them which we have done as media for a long time
  • Post photographic photographer – the photographer after the latest paradigm shift


As expected most of the ideology in here is reflected in my notes on the book Bending The Frame because Fred is discussing the same ideology he used in the actual book. There are many overlaps and sometimes I find it is easier to hear the points as opposed to reading them, because I can actually hear the tone and context in which Ritchin discusses them. As discussed in my post of Bending The Frame I will be using some of the case studies Ritchin uses in Bending The Frame in my research paper to explore different themes, for example using the National Geographic cover in relation to manipulation. There are some points that I didn’t quite pick up on in the book of Bending The Frame that I have picked out in this interview that I will definitely be developing on either in my research paper or the independent blog posts I plan to write with my extended research.


Reference: Worth, J. (2014) Fred Ritchin in conversation for [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]



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