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.
CHO BO HEE, a member of the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest Jury, Deputy department head at the leading Korean news agency Yonhap.
— What was the main factor in your decision to join the jury of the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest?
Participating in international press photo contests as a jury member is even moreprecious and rare chance that does not come often, therefore I accepted the invitation from Rossiya Segodnya to make use of my experience and tacit knowledge as a jury of The Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest. I firmly believe that the mission of photo journalist is to report facts by taking photos of a scene as is, and to conserve them to remain as history. Therefore, this meaningful event will encourage young photo journalists to be courageous and passionate by commemorating Mr. Stenin.
— There is a new category this year called Inspiration. The concept itself is very abstract and requires an artistic touch by means of photography. In your opinion, what concepts would help to emphasize the photographer's talent?
As 'Inspiration' is quite abstract concept, a problem may occur if the jury member and
contestants fall short on understanding firm notion of the concept. I believe that some photos for 'Inspiration' falls under the column of 'My Planet' category. Therefore, to clearly distinguish between 'Inspiration' and 'My Planet', it would be better to add elaborated description of 'Inspiration' concept, 'a lovely photo which can be touching and giving small grin on viewer's face' or so.
Because many contestants applied for the competition with photos capturing negative image and sad truth, concentrating on positive, and warm-hearted image in 'Inspiration' concept could be more welcomed.
— Just reports are not captivating anymore. Almost anybody can do a report because we all have devices with embedded cameras. More and more often, photographers are using artistic techniques in their work. They set up the lighting, stage the scene, etc. What do you think about this? Is it just a trend or could it be the beginning of a new language in photography?
Press photo is completely different from artistic photos. However, to deliver more clear
meaning and intention through press photo, I believe it is ok to apply small artistic set-up when capturing the moment, if it does not fully distort or exaggerate any fact. Also, as for the output, it is ok to add some colored filter and cropping via Photoshop, but it should never interfere with the original meaning and fact.
— What do you think about borrowing ideas? Where do you think is the boundary that divides a quote from plagiarism?
People say that exclusive rights to own an angle cannot be accepted, so borrowing ideas
from different photographer's view is different from plagiarism in literature or text. Even if the angle of certain photo is the same, atmosphere surrounding the scene could always vary on time. It means that no photos can be completely the same, even though the angle to capture the scene is similar.
However, when it comes to judging photos in press photo contest, it is recommended to exclude photos imitated former winner's photo and encourage new, and creative angle.
— To what extent, in your opinion, can professional ambitions be helpful or dangerous? What should photographers do to get through hard times and praise and still strive ahead?
Professional ambitions of photo journalist can be motivation for them to create better
output. Just like the fact anyone can sing but professional singer are being loved by people, anyone can own a camera but not everyone can make great photos, and most of the time they are restricted to enter the place where incidents take place. It is encouraged to have dignity in their job as professional photo journalist.
— Several years ago, the photography community was passionate about digital storytelling but now many experts say that photography is going back to its traditional formats. What do you think about industry trends in general? Are there trends in photography and should photographers follow them?
Digital storytelling seems to be like an expansion of photo journalist's traditional role. I
think the weight-shifting toward storytelling from photos is more like a change of era, instead of a temporary trend. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to go along with the change.
— Do you have a professional secret that helps you get through difficult times in life? Would you share it with us?
Despite the fact that press photo is bringing huge demand and being welcomed by
people more than ever, working environment of photographers is getting worse. However, even if everyone may own a camera, not everyone can create qualified photo and have professional enthusiasm in their work.
It will be helpful for photo journalists to become self-esteemed professional by considering themselves as 'chronicler of history', and giving more value in their output.
— The Andrei Stenin Contest marks its fifth anniversary this year. What would you wish to the winners of the previous years and those who are taking a shot this year?
I believe that it is fine to be proud as an awardee of photo contest, but if they concentrate only in award-winning, they may forget the core value in their job. As young photo journalists who have many more years of hard-working lies in front of them, through diligent endeavors they may enjoy daily routine and someday, manage to receive awards.