Alexia Foundation Executive Administrator James Dooley was featured on this past weekend’s Radio New Zealand’s Sunday Morning program, along with journalist, critic and scholar Alison Stieven-Taylor. They were on the show to discuss photojournalism in the smartphone age. Both were in New Zealand as part of the Auckland Festival of Photography.
“Have smartphones made news photographers all but redundant and are images regularly being photoshopped to distort the truth?” Presenter Wallace Chapman asked his guests to begin the program.
Dooley and Stieven-Taylor quickly elucidated what makes a photojournalist distinct, including the ability to tell a story and to create a narrative that deeply explains an issue. James was also able to speak at length about the purpose of The Alexia Foundation, and the important space it occupies in giving photographers the support they need to tell vital stories.
“The Alexia Foundation gives grants to professional and student photographers that do serious documentary work because, with the advent of the decline of the media and newspapers and magazines laying off photographers, there are so many photographers that want to do serious work, so organizations such as The Alexia Foundation and others give grants to photographers to do the work they feel they must do and have the time to do them,” explained Dooley.
“If [photographers] don’t have the space, if they don’t have the funding, they can’t do the work, they can’t tell the stories that need to be told, they can’t devote the time and energy to do more than just occasional pictures,” continued Dooley. “The resources of a grant, whether it’s ours or anybody else’s, gives that photographer the time to develop sources, to develop contacts, to get beneath the surface. Anybody can take a picture with an iPhone… but a professional photographer who has the resources and the time can get beneath the surface to tell stories, give you the texture of a situation that only comes with time.”
At other points in the interview, Dooley talked about early manipulation in film photography. He explained how editors and competition administrators today are able to tell an image is not manipulated. He drew from his own experience as the Deputy Director of Photography as Newsday to talk about the steep decline of staff positions in media for photojournalists, which he described as “fewer people doing more work.” He and Stieven-Taylor also discussed how the proliferation of images has not led to greater visual literacy, and gave recommendations of seeing photography more deeply.
Wrapping up the interview, Dooley explained the genesis of The Alexia Foundation, the work we have done for over 25 years, and the grants we currently offer.
We are grateful to Radio New Zealand for giving us the opportunity to discuss how important photojournalism is and thankful to our executive administrator for doing it so eloquently. Listen to the full interview above or at this link.