Developing Pictures is, as the name hopefully suggests, a blog about ‘development’ and about photography. It is a blog that is certainly under development; this is my first post to it. I hope it becomes a space for me to discuss photography in a wide range of ways, particularly (though not necessarily exclusively) in relation to development and humanitarian work. If anyone else wants to join in a discussion and let me know what you think, that would be great.
My plan is to post as frequently as I can around one or more of the following topics; photography/photographs/photojournalism that addresses development issues; development issues that could have relevance for photographers and, sometimes, just about photography itself. Also in scope are photographic history and critical theory, and anything related to photographic archives in the digital age. I suspect this may be enough to go on, for now at least.
Who am I?
I’m Russell Watkins, a photographer and multimedia producer/editor working for the UK’s Department for International Development. Every day, I look at, edit or make photographs, videos and other kinds of multimedia content relating to development, poverty reduction and humanitarian work. I’ve traveled extensively in developing countries – particularly across Asia and Africa. I’ve studied photography and worked in the industry for over 15 years. During that time I’ve photographed everything from soft furnishings for Marks and Spencer to science experiments for the Institute of Physics, from medieval manuscripts for the British Library to Nick Knight’s bedroom. But lately I’ve been fortunate (if that’s the right phrase) to have met and photographed people affected by conflict, natural disaster and grinding poverty around the world. I use this blog to talk about where photography, aid and development meet.
I believe that photography in general, and photojournalism in particular, still has a powerful role to play in the 21st century, from informing and educating us about the challenges faced by millions of people around the world who are unfortunate enough to live in poverty, to empowering some of these same people and hopefully enabling them to be heard, to tell their own stories.
Yes, ‘traditional’, 20th century markets for photojournalism have changed or all but disappeared over the last decade, but technology brings new opportunities as well. Photography faces huge challenges in the digital age, from the archiving of billions of digital images, to user-generated content, copyright infringement and questions of manipulation and authenticity. I’m fascinated by all of these issues and am very interested to hear what other people think about them too.
I may impart some opinions here; they will be my own, unless explicitly stated otherwise. They may not necessarily reflect the views of my employers. I’ll be writing this blog in my own time, based on my own experiences and ideas, and trying to stay on the right side of the Civil Service Code – so for the official line on UK international development follow the link above.
And if all of the above is just way too much information, I also tweet in less than 140 characters about much the same kind of stuff as @russellphoto, and have been known to post the odd random photo or two over on Flickr.
Russell Watkins, London, 2010.