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Am I just Cynical or IS There Something Wrong With This?

Hi guys I would love to get your opinion on this…Action Aid Australia is running a PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION to send a young photographer or talented ‘hobbyist’ (the NGO’s words not mine) to Africa to photograph poverty.

Is there something wrong with this? I mean creating a competition to send a photographer to a war torn impoverished country on a photographic jaunt? I approached the charity and questioned their motives and they basically said they didn’t want to pay a professional photojournalist yet they had received entries from seasoned professional photojournalists into their competition. And that the seasoned photojournalist if chosen as a winner would be mentored by another photojournalist….making sense to you?

I am fairly astonished that anyone could offer a trip to Africa to photograph poverty as a prize…i mean this is not Disneyland after all…

Anyway I am curious as to what anyone else thinks of this…here is the website “http://www.actionaid.org.au”

by lisa hogben at 2012-08-07 09:17:24 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Ah, the Franz Fanon Prize to photograph the wretched of the earth in all of their picturesque wretchedness. Maybe the cynicism is catching, but the phrase “they didn’t want to pay a professional photojournalist” seems to me to sum up the motive behind this thing. There must be something to the old saw that no matter how cynical you get, it’s never enough.

by Akaky | 07 Aug 2012 15:08 | New York , United States | | Report spam→
You may be cynical, but there is most certainly something wrong with that. Reminds me of the line in Jurassic Park about the fact that in Disneyland the Pirates of the Caribbean don’t suddenly attack the tourists. In this contest the “winner” may get more than he/she bargains for. But remember that guy who wanted to lead photography workshops in Haiti right after the quake, or all the other folks who, without having ever worked for publication before, come out and want to know how to get to a war as quickly as possible? Like just another form of ‘extreme tourism" or something. It’s something to SEE, not a story to TELL.

What is “actionaid” anyway? Sounds like a sports drink, like gatorade. Very disturbing.

by John Louis Lassen Perry | 07 Aug 2012 16:08 (ed. Aug 7 2012) | Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
Lisa, I think you would be cynical if you thought “well who cares? if it’s not them someone will do something like that anyway.” And in that case you wouldn’t be here posting anything in the first place…

by Laura Larmo | 07 Aug 2012 18:08 | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
FYI this is the link to see what photographers were selected… Its really interesting that they didn’t even bother to name the photographers… only their first names…


by lisa hogben | 07 Aug 2012 22:08 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
Well, looked over their website for the contest, which could be worse, though it does not do a very good job of showing their work. The home page uses 5 rotating images which could easily be stock. I think their goal is to try to find some unknown person who will shoot appealing photos and blog sincerely about how great the folks taking them on the trip are. They probably figure that if they can find a talented unknown they will get more emotional blogging and images. The whole contest idea does not really seem badly intentioned, just sort of inappropriate, and the photos are not bad, but don’t really have the makings of essays. I think the intention here is “community involvement” not serious photography, but I think that is what is lacking here. One day of “training” a bit of experience of blogging, 5 possibly connected photos? I don’t see these guys getting too much impact out of this. They ought to reconsider their outreach program.

by John Louis Lassen Perry | 08 Aug 2012 00:08 (ed. Aug 8 2012) | Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
You’re not being cynical at all.

I’m currently helping to launch a photo project for children at one or two Cambodian orphanages. In doing research, I’ve discovered that there are actually organizations that will have tourists pay to go visit various orphanages. I couldn’t find the one specific article I was looking for about this, but here’s a link which discusses this “orphan tourism” in Cambodia and elsewhere.


by PJ Heller | 08 Aug 2012 01:08 | | Report spam→
Just some light reading in the matter….and PJHeller (we must be related!) Thanks for that excellent link…


by lisa hogben | 08 Aug 2012 03:08 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
The lengths to which people will go… to get the services of a photographer for free.

by Dr Chris Westinghouse | 08 Aug 2012 06:08 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
I’ve heard about the “orphan tourism” business. Bizarre. Though the last time I was in Cambodia, I was told that the number of westerners visiting orphanages skyrockets whenever Angelina Jolie was in country, but adoptions remain about the same. Talk about sad.

There are actually some very big issues concealed in this thread. Not only how images are used and acquired in these contexts, but also how the image presented by such organizations might actually trivialize the issues they are seeking to fight for.

by John Louis Lassen Perry | 08 Aug 2012 14:08 | Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→

Lisa you’re not being cynical. I have a 16 yo son and I KNOW cynical.
BTW, I’m assuming second prize in the contest is TWO trips to Africa?

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 08 Aug 2012 15:08 | Spring Lake, Michigan, United States | | Report spam→
This is thought up by hipsters looking to show off how awesome their trust fund cameras are at capturing the beauty of paupers. This is all ego and shallow look-at-me-ism at its finest.

by Scott Robert Collins | 08 Aug 2012 16:08 | Jodhpur, India | | Report spam→
John Louis…I agree there are some very very massive issues that are being raised here…Al Jazeera also did a great piece on the business of ‘Voluntourism’ in Cambodian orphanages, as has Ian Birrell of The Observer.

What amazes me is the constant unthinkingness of the general public… I mean the whole ‘Missionary’ concept has created such pain and suffering for generations of Indigenous Peoples across the world…so why do wealthy (predominantly white) people believe naively that by volunteering somewhere impoverished without understanding the situation at all think they will improve someone else’s lot?

I read a great thing on the need of people to ‘do something’ when they were confronted with other peoples dire situations…Regardless whether it is the right thing to do or not few people are prepared to sit back and actually listen to what the people in those situations actually see as a solution for their own ills…

Its another middle class white complex…the need to control the outcome…

Yes John Louis there are many issues…

But Scott Collins nailed it on this one…I reckon the people who put this one together are probably ‘Bondi Hipsters’ (Dom and Adrian are a must watch…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HR4n6OVoyYQ)

by lisa hogben | 08 Aug 2012 23:08 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
This is morally wrong first and foremost. Then there is the issue of an organization boasting about its amazing humans rights standards, when the reality is they are exploiting photographers and helping destroy an industry that is already struggling.
However my favorite is the entertaining reading that is the terms and conditions.
40. The Promoter shall not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever which is suffered (including but not limited to indirect or consequential loss) or for any personal injury suffered or sustained in connection with the prizes except for any liability, which cannot be excluded by law. The Promoter will not be responsible for any incorrect, inaccurate or incomplete information communicated in the course of or in connection with this selection process if the deficiency is occasioned by any cause outside the reasonable control of the Promoter including without limitation technical malfunctions.
Basically don’t get hurt or get sick as you will be completely stuffed! The organization want you to represent them with your amazing free photography but accept no responsibility for you. This is priceless!

by jenny evans | 09 Aug 2012 00:08 | australia, Australia | | Report spam→
Hey Jenny I didn’t read the terms… Normally when you travel with a NGO they provide kidnap and death and injury insurance while you are under their auspices… Well at least the good ones anyway…this is worse than morally reprehensible… I had a look at some of the entries and some of them look like they had been shot by school kids because they are so unsophisticated… I wonder what their parents would think if they got sent to Kenya and got killed? Man these guys are really irresponsible..

by lisa hogben | 09 Aug 2012 02:08 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
You’re not being cynical at all it…..it is a growing trend on poverty/slum tourism seems to be more popular than the crossing of the wildbeast and the big five .It is very naive and rhetorical to assume that africa is a goldmine for poverty images and also put up a competition on it.I work on showing the beauty and growth of africa as a continent and not the negative perspective that has tainted the continent and shame on the young photographer or talented ‘hobbyist’ who enter how desperate can one get.NGO like this define their new term Nothing Goes On.

by collins Gituma | 09 Aug 2012 17:08 | Nairobi, Kenya | | Report spam→
Yep Collins Gituma… I also think its patronising to make the assumption that just because its Africa its poor… It comes from that predominant ‘white’ paradigm that the ‘dark continent’ will always be somehow less…I wrote about this on Duckrabbit some time ago in relation to photography prizes…

I like your new acronym for NGO BTW!

by lisa hogben | 09 Aug 2012 22:08 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
This is just stupid.

by Tom Van Cakenberghe | 10 Aug 2012 19:08 | Kathmandu, Nepal | | Report spam→
And Tom the stupidity doesn’t just end there…someone left this on my blog…I wonder if they actually read my thoughts on the whole ‘Voluntourism’ phenomenon…

“Name: Bradley
Email: bradleyrussellnyc@gmail.com
Comment: Hi,

I work with Journeys4Good, http://journeys4good.com/, and we are starting a new project called “The Ripple Effect” project.

People we are looking for: People who have done a voluntour trip or humanitarian trip and have made a difference. Ideally some compelling story abut the lives they changed from first hand account. We want to move people to volunteer by showing people first hand the lives they have changed/helped in another country.

If this sounds like you, let me know when a good time to email you some questions would be.I will also need 4-5 clear and compelling pictures of you on your trip so we can use a few in the article. We will also need to have one close up (on the trip) so we can see your face, and the rest can be just of the trip and groups of people met, etc. These can be submitted when you submit your answers and I will send a reminder when I send the questions to you!

Kind Regards,

Time: Saturday August 11, 2012 at 5:21 am
IP Address:
Contact Form URL: http://lisahogben.wordpress.com/contacts-contracts-hire-me-please/
Sent by an unverified visitor to your site."

This sounds more like they are looking for a media darling, you know some pretty young blonde girl with loads of little children clinging to her and smiling… if I have ever changed anybodies life for the better then I would be thrilled but I sure as shit don’t think taking happy snaps of myself and boasting “How I have changed somebodies life (who must obviously be poorer more stupid and less capable than myself oh and living somewhere like Africa)” is going to really be very helpful to anyone in the long term…

So what do you guys think about this?

Is the “Ripple Effect” just Kony 2012 in disguise?

by lisa hogben | 11 Aug 2012 00:08 (ed. Aug 11 2012) | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
It gets better guys….

Read about journeys4good!


I was right they are looking at televisual ‘voluntourists’ These guys have been nominated for FOUR EMMY’S… Who is ‘Journeys For Good’ really for?

Duckrabbit where are you? Some blistering critiques of this are definitely in order!

by lisa hogben | 11 Aug 2012 02:08 (ed. Aug 11 2012) | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
Wow. The “for profit volunteer industry”. Oh, brother. It makes my head hurt.

by John Louis Lassen Perry | 11 Aug 2012 18:08 | Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
here’s another one to chew over
Interested in photography? Participate in the UN4UAsia Asia-Pacific Photo Contest. Great prizes from Nikon. Check out the flyer for more info!

by jenny evans | 11 Aug 2012 23:08 | australia, Australia | | Report spam→
And among the UN4Asia provisions:

By entering the contest you agree to grant the UN, its agencies, funds, programs and sponsors full non-exclusive copyright for all photographs entered in the competition. The UN and sponsors reserve the right to use the photographs in not for profit advocacy and promotional materials such as magazines, reports, calendars, postcards, etc.

When photographs are used credit will also be given to the photographer, but no subsequent payments will be made.

The photos will also be added to the UN’s online photo galleries and Facebook pages and made available to any party the UN deems suitable, subject to appropriate crediting.

by PJ Heller | 11 Aug 2012 23:08 | | Report spam→
I’d like to believe that you get what you pay for, in this case you pay nothing you get nothing. This is a really despicable trend isn’t it.
Best put by photographer Sean Davey, yet again an international NGO aims to build its image library through the slimy veneer of a photographic competition.

by jenny evans | 12 Aug 2012 00:08 | australia, Australia | | Report spam→
Nowadays things seem to go the wrong way all at once, a colleauge made £1 for documenting the war in Lybia, that means that the immediace of the medium has drastically lowered the perceived value of our work.


I have attached the link to an interesting interview with documentary photographer Ken Light to demonstrate how common is the problem of making people aware of the value of your work.

It’s a difficult world for the photographic community.

by Daniel V. Kevorkian | 24 Aug 2012 14:08 | Firenze, Italy | | Report spam→

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lisa hogben, Visualjournalist! lisa hogben
Sydney , Australia
Akaky, Contemptible lout Akaky
Contemptible lout
New York , United States ( AAA )
John Louis Lassen Perry, Photoanthropologist John Louis Lassen Perry
Califon, New Jersey , United States
Laura Larmo, Photographer Laura Larmo
Helsinki , Finland
PJ Heller, Freelance Photojournalist PJ Heller
Freelance Photojournalist
(Freelance Photojournalist)
Christchurch , New Zealand
Dr  Chris Westinghouse, Photojournalist Dr Chris Westinghouse
(Generalist For Hire)
Melbourne , Australia
John Robert Fulton Jr., Photographs John Robert Fulton Jr.
Indianapolis, In , United States
Scott Robert Collins, Photographer Scott Robert Collins
Goa , India
jenny evans, jenny evans
[location unknown]
collins Gituma, Photographer & Designer collins Gituma
Photographer & Designer
Nairobi , Kenya
Tom Van Cakenberghe, Tom Van Cakenberghe
Kathmandu , Nepal
Daniel V. Kevorkian, Photographer Daniel V. Kevorkian
(telling stories)
Firenze , Italy


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