As part of the Andrei Stenin International Photo Contest, organized by Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, a series of interviews with the jury members – the most prominent photography and art figures — has been conducted.
Chen Qiwei is the Editor-in-Chief of Xinmin Evening News, one of the oldest Chinese newspapers. He is also in charge of a series of newspapers and digital media of Shanghai United Media Group.
Why have you decided to become a jury-member of the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest?
The Andrei Stenin Photo Contest is an international contest that sets out to support young photographers and evoke social attention to modern photojournalists’ work. It is a platform to display works of global media young photographers as well as to promote professional and business communication in the industry. It is a great honor for me to stand in the judge panel on behalf of Shanghai United Media Group and my peers in China.
What do you think of art elements in documentary photography?
Media has developed into an era of multi-media and mass-media. Meanwhile, people’s aesthetic requirements toward news photos have been greatly changed. As cellphones are more widely used, people are increasingly intrigued by photography. More people have become a part of photo-taking. Therefore, a task is posed before professional press workers to make breakthroughs in the way the photos are presented. Under the circumstance that the facts are secured, it is a beneficial attempt to infuse art elements to expand the press photos’ attraction and the publicity. But the art’s dislocation of facts should be prevented. In all cases, news photos give top priority to accuracy and art is second to that.
In your opinion, what is more important for a photo journalist: a well-thought-out story, or a picture taken in the right place at the right time?
For a photo journalist, it is most important to take right photos in the right place and at the right time, when he or she is already equipped with the shooting talent and the sensitivity for news. There is an old saying in China “You wear out the iron shoes to search for something while what you search for may strike you by chance”. You might plan all the time you would like, but you might as well keep a close eye on what happens in the world right now. When you observe the world all the time and integrate your skill at a proper time, a piece of good work should appear. Only a work with natural flow is able to evoke. A piece of work out of plan is prone to be static and embedded with the author’s subjective thinking. This is what we should always avoid in news photos.
What do you think is more important, the image quality or promptness?
In my opinion, the promptness comes first. News is something that decays rapidly after it shows. Millions of incidents take place in the world every day and it is the media’s job to deliver the news as soon as possible. Along with the fast development of the Internet, everybody can become an independent medium. In this case, professional photo journalists will fall behind and their works will lose vitality if they don’t get to be the first ones to send news. Then of course, we need to guarantee the quality as we are professional.
What should be in a picture to catch your interest?
The first element should be the impact. The picture is supposed to show the latest news; then as to the image of a scene or a person, the latter should make the image rich in impact and influence. Also the distinctive effect expression (or the artistic expression) matters.
How can photographers become professionally accomplished now that electronic media are winning out over printed media?
A photographer should be able to draw public attention when he or she is able to catch news events with professional views and present artistic and gripping image with professional methods.
In your opinion, are there any ethical limits in quality event photography (for instance, in photography composition)?
In all times moral and ethics should not be left out as long as human exists. The pictures speak for themselves in the photography works and the cruel or bloody pictures should be filtered or processed with technical means, instead of being recorded as all there is. We promote impact in the picture, but avoid provoking or hurting the audience. It has always been controversial for a photojournalist’s role when in face of a violent incident or an ongoing terrorist event-whether they should be calm observers or active doers. We can’t be too cautious in this process when the photojournalist’s moral and ethics are concerned.
In your point of view, what kind of a sports story or a sports photo could win the Grand Prix?
Sports pictures should reflect the motions, emotions and the ambience. Human characters are the feature of the photos. By the frame frozen at the instant, the splendidness and the athletes’ spirits can be conveyed.