The question of what means ethics in photojournlism today.
The personal participation on reporting about the suffering of others.
The ambiguty between glory and compassion.
The social and media use of photography in our daily life.
Like a coat of rain
documentary & book project
Between fame and compassion. An inhuman ritual that has been documented by generations of photographers, is for me the starting point to a documentary about ethics in photojournalism. As a multimedia producer I take a look at the creation of some of the latest high valued photostories done by Finnish photographer Meeri Koutaniemi and Spanish Kim Manresa about a horrible theme, as it is the circumcision of the clitoris in children. At the same time I want to question the meaning and functioning of photography in the world today.
I’m interested in the ethical aspects of this issue. I am concerned with the question of personal participation, voyeurism in society and the fame of the artist. Making interviews with professionals of media and photography I want to work out if photojournalism is like a coat of rain falling on society until it’s capable of change.
My project is about the role of photography today.
Art is awareness raising.
The broad debate over ethics in photography and particularly in photojournalism has narrowed in recent years into questions of aesthetics and the manipulation of the image. This is evident especially in the World Press Award, the most prestigious prize for journalistic photography, where just last year a winner got his prize revoked because his pictures were not authentic enough. For me personally, the debate about ethics is a different one, one that goes far deeper and is much more difficult to answer.
A proverb says: A picture is worth a 1,000 words. But can a moving image still reach the hearts of people when they are already exhausted by the constant media flood of news?
A recent aspect of my work is the current refugee crisis in Europe and reporting on it. Even though many refugees have made the long trip to Europe, it was one single photo, published on Twitter, that has shaken the European public. It was the photo of a dead child on a Greek beach that became the symbol for the personal tragedies and the suffering of the migrants. People need icons to understand the world and to act. This is the role of photography and it becomes more and more important. I want to make this part comprehensible and tell the stories of the people in and behind the pictures.
I have a deep interest in finding out in my interviews whether the work a person does makes a difference in this world. Often the small stories make us a different artist/ photographer but also change us forever as human beings. Maybe I will be a different person after completing this project.
I am now looking for answers to the following questions:
What is the higher purpose of photojournalism?
Can photojournalism make the world a better place?
What are the ethical rules that should be followed?
How does photojournalism bring change to a society? Does a possible change in the mindset of people depend on the culture they live in?
And more specifically:
Is the work on a project, that is so marked by personal suffering, something a photographer can prepare for emotionally?
How much is a photographer affected by the personal fate of a child/a person and how far can personal involvement go?
Why do certain themes in international photojournalism repeat cyclically?
Does photojournalism today have a way that allows dedicated reporters to stand up for human rights or is it merely the result of a media circus, where young artists are willing to present the horrors of the world in a exhibition?
After publishing his book "Fotografieren wie ein Profi" at German Rheinwerk Verlag Björn currently works on a book about the Balearic Islands. He also received a grant by VG Bildkunst for "Like a Coat of Rain“, his first documentary. He is picture editor for the satirical online magazine „Der Laufbursche“. Beside editorial assignments Björn also works as a freelance artist on multimedia documentary projects.
Björn Göttlicher, born in 1972 in Bamberg, Germany, is a passionate photographer and author in the fields of travel photography, reporting, and multimedia storytelling. He studied photography in Dortmund, Paris, and Barcelona and graduated from the University of Applied Sciences Dortmund with a degree in Photo Design. He has published numerous coffee table books and also works for international publishing houses. His pictures have been shown in magazines such as „Der Spiegel“. As the founder of the multimedia platform Punt de Focus he focuses on the use of new media. On his site goettlichefotos he blogs about the history and the future of photography. He is also the author of the popular book „Fotografieren wie ein Profi“ and picture editor of the German satirical magazin „Der Laufbursche“. He lives with his wife and two kids in Spain.
Driven by great curiosity Björn explores and tries to understand conditions of human life in general, documenting in particular the Spanish society. In his honest way of storytelling he puts the individual first and center in order to understand the connections to society. Reoccurring themes in his broad portfolio are pop culture, social conditioning, and moral dilemmas in times of crisis.
Björn has worked as a freelance photographer for more than 10 years. Having started as an architecture photographer after graduation (Dipl. Des. FH Dortmund and Bellas Artes Barcelona) he focuses now on editorial photography with a special emphasis on documentary and portrait photography. He travels frequently and is inspired by people.