Hail the new era of photography

It was the heyday of photo-journalism, during the middle of the 20th century, when news magazines would build their reputations around their use of photography and when, to many, they offered a first glimpse of the big stories of the day.

Technology changed all that and TV became king.

That may be about to change.

The birth of tablet publishing may revitalise the power of the photograph.

Devices like the iPad reduce overheads for the business and improve convenience and immediacy for the reader. They also elevate news photography to a status it hasn’t occupied for a long time.

There could hardly be a platform more dependent on photography.

And there could hardly be a better means for the distribution of our work than a high resolution, ultraportable, constantly updated mass media device like this one.

So if tablet publishing proves successful in the long-term, it will be in no small part due to the help of strong editorial photography and the efforts of news photographers – much like the good old days.

With this will come an expectation of increased technical adeptness with greater demand for fast – even live – transmission from the field.

Wade Column

The newly-released app of the Melbourne newspaper, The Age

A growing appetite will emerge for more multimedia and HD-SLR video content from photographers – and that will mean more training and new skills.

The depth of our journalism will increase, too.

Given the choice, news photographers generally prefer covering a story in series form rather than as a single image. That’s because the photographic essay is like long form writing; you’re not forced to isolate the highlights.

Instead, you can include all the nuance and detail that would otherwise be lost, offering a more comprehensive portrayal of the subject.

With its galleries and slideshows, the tablet platform is like a return to the golden age of photo-journalism when photographers might see their pictures published in series across 12 consecutive pages of a magazine and with scarcely a word of interruption.

Tablet publishing will broaden the reach of our work to an extent not yet imagined, as the audience increases from those within a print delivery footprint to anyone with a compatible device.

And if publishers can turn a profit out of all of this, for photographers I am failing to see a single downside.

Wade Laube is photographic editor for the Sydney Morning Herald. Follow him on Twitter via @wadelaube 

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