I’m a big fan of Magnum’s Postcards from America effort, whose latest project House of Pictures has ten Magnum photographers working in Rochester. The tumblr feed from Rochester is fascinating and not unlike the experience of sending someone out on assignment and unpacking the results in your office after it’s over… only this one is live. They’re half way through the event which is taking place from April 15 – 29, so now is the perfect time to jump in and look at the images already created and follow what’s to come. They’ve got updates on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook plus a Flickr group where the public can participate by tagging images “Rochester”.
With events like this Magnum is clearly taking a leadership role in defining the future of photographers on assignment. Not only expanding the minds of their members but also experimenting with social media, photographers working in groups and projects without boundaries. There’s a saying in silicon valley startup culture: “fail fast and fail often” that would be an appropriate manta for this effort and for anyone else who’s looking for answers to the future of media and professional photography. “Fear of failure stifles creativity and progress, so if you are not failing you not going to innovate.” (source). That’s not to say House of Pictures is a massive failure but rather that some of the things they are doing may not represent a way forward, but by experimenting they can see what works, measure the results and apply what they’ve learned.
There are similar efforts underway with other groups, most notably Luceo’s “Few and Far Between” and the ILCP’s RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition). I would advise everyone to pay attention and see what develops. Not only is the photography awesome to look at, it will get the gears turning in your head on where the future lies.