Of unintended consequences

So, the French minister of Culture (at least they have one) descends to the Arles photo festival like a conqueror and announces, probably very proud of himself, that he and his photo committee he created a while back, will create a photo portal. A French one, in three languages (French, English and???).

70,000 images are supposed to be made available to the public and amateurs thanks to this portal. Nothing is said about what photography, from where, edited by whom, for what purpose? Just 70,000 images; Et Voila. Packs his stuff into his limo and goes back to take an early afternoon nap in his hot office in Paris.

And we are left to wonder: From the country that has laws banning street photography, from the country that has created social laws responsible for the death and suffering of many photo agencies and their photographers, from the country that has banned citizen photojournalism that is all they could come out with?

If they really wanted to help photography, the French government would do a few things: Repel the law that forces everyone to blur faces of people in public spaces, repel the law that makes it illegal to photograph a news item if you are not a professional, repel the law that makes photo agencies responsible for more than 75% of free lancer contribution to social security. This is what is killing photography in France, not the lack of a “tri lingual pro/amateur photo” portal.

If they really wanted to save photography, wouldn’t they help photography live and breathe instead of creating a useless on line museum that will cost millions and sit unused? France already has one huge portal of photography for professional called PixPalace. Why create a state sponsored competition?

Why don’t they rather make an institution that gives out grants and supports young (and not so young photographers) in their projects? Why don’t they reward websites or print magazine for their usage of photography? Why don’t they create incentives instead of museums?

There might be a long time before this online photo portal ever sees the day of light since everything takes a long time in France ( years, decades). It is just so very frustrating to see a minister who made a movie about the Rapho agency, that contains such great photographers as Robert Doisneau, Édouard Boubat, Denis Brihat, Jean Dieuzaide, Bill Brandt, Izis, André Kertész, Yousuf Karsh, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Janine Niépce, Willy Ronis, Emile Savitry, and Sabine Weiss, continue to support a law that would have made these photographers unable to practice their trade.

Furthermore, in a society that is about to ban the wearing of Burqa’s because it hides women’s face, it is quite ironic that they force publications to hide the face of people in photographs.

I have an idea: Let’s go on strike.

More, in French

This business has too many Surveyors and not enough Bohemians”  Roger Therond , legendary photo man, once said to a good friend of mine, Eliane Laffont. This blog is about restoring the balance and letting the Bohemians talk.

Paul Melcher  has been named one of the “50 most influential individuals in American photography” by American Photo. He is currently senior vice president of the PictureGroup. He writes the Thoughts of a Bohemian blog

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

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