Interview with Fred Ritchin (Catchup on Phonar)

As I had identified that the writing from Fred Ritchin would be an influential part of my research paper I decided to research as much as possible. This meant that the interview I got to have with Fred Ritchin as part of Phonar would be relevant because I was listening and asking questions on Ritchin’s ideology. I listened to the interview again and noted down all the points made by all people partaking in the interview. These notes and the evaluation can be seen below:

  • Photography began with the idea that the photograph is the quotation of reality
  • Imprint on the visible reality ‘footprint’
  • After Photography references postproduction, manipulation
  • Photography is a subset of the image
  • We have moved from the photograph to the image
  • Painting was shaken up by cubists/surrealists but the conventional forms die
  • In some ways analogue photography still does things that digital imagery can’t do
  • Bending The Frame addresses how photojournalism/documentary/citizen journalism can expand
  • New journalism/ new photojournalism
  • The camera doesn’t tell the ‘quote-on-quote truth’
  • (Jonathan Worth addresses the opposition set up between Fred Ritchin and Stephen Mayes)
  • Ritchin – My worry is that if Brian (talking about Photoshop launch) continues to do what he’s doing we will no longer have faith in the image
  • Worth – does the image have two types of information, the metadata means the digital image can become more ‘truthful’ than the photograph (analogue print)
  • It depends on how the viewers perceive the image
  • It’s not dependant on the Photoshop element – it is the staged element, the sexism, the control over the image which means the subject can only be seen in a certain way
  • The general idea is we are not interested in the world we are only interested in seeing it in our own image
  • People can control their own image using photography/moving image such as ISIS or politicians (poor people are less likely)\
  • There is no iconic imagery explaining what’s going on anymore (Afghanistan) in Vietnam there was lots
  • Rebecca Woodall poses question: could practitioners like Bleasdale and Huey who are adapting their work to engage the audience differently proactive?
  • The Robert Capa model is reactive – producing content to events that have already happened
  • Proactive would mean photographing so that something didn’t happen
  • Photojournalism is still developing – lots more will happen using technology like GPS, heat seekers, satellites
  • We are making progressions into new mediums – code can be output in whatever way you want it
  • Ritchin is urging more people to utilise technology to shape this new mediums
  • Question posed from Olly – Does the mediation of the event through a screen change the way we perceive an event?
  • The Skype experience is mediated – this representation is a compression through the screen
  • When in a screen the physical nuances are lost
  • A physical experience over a digital experience – more likely to remember the physical ones?
  • The idea of screening memories – screening out and removing experience
  • If it was just audio could we imagine the person better?
  • Kevin Kelly – the generative moment
  • Does the physical iteration carry more impact
  • Enormous challenge of climate – but there are no iconic images of that issue
  • Can there be anymore iconic images?
  • Is video the new medium – the ISIS video, they are controlling the world’s stage
  • We need surveillance cameras at the moment because they are more credible than people
  • McLuhan – we are all going 90 miles an hour looking in the rear view mirror
  • We still call the automobile the horseless carriage – we still have horse power in our engines
  • We are the rear view mirror people
  • Distance means for greater comprehension – how do you deconstruct a situation enough to reconstruct it and how can you distance it to perceive what you are doing
  • Where do conversations on the current state of photojournalism take place?
  • We can have a conversation with an author by reading their book
  • Authors, artists, photographers, film makers always have something to say
  • We should be spending more time formulating the right questions rather than getting all the answers
  • We have to know how other people have examined/navigated a situation


It was great to hear the interview again as it’s great to go back and see the points with a different perspective and with hindsight. One of the key ideas that I picked up on in this interview if the redefinition of the terms ‘photograph’ and ‘image’ as in the context of Phonar it appears that the photograph appears to resemble the format of the analogue print whereas the image is associated with digital technology, with a nature and meaning that is moving away from the original, evidential practice of photography and photojournalism. The fluctuating definitions is a concept that Ritchin address directly with a quote from Marshall McLuhan, by describing our society as looking in the ‘rear view mirror’ because we feel comfortable and familiar using archaic terminology to associate with new inventions. This is definitely a point I wish to address in my research paper, as it will convey an urgency to start adapting both the practice and terminology of photojournalism to the changing digital environment. There are various other points that will be useful to include in my work, overall listening to this interview again has been extremely beneficial to both my research paper and my plan to write a series of independent blog posts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s