Interview by Angela Cappetta
Vincent Cianni is a documentary photographer whose work explores community, memory, and the human condition. His work surrounds issues of civil and human rights and strives to make visible the under-represented and disadvantaged. Cianni teaches at The New School and the International Center of Photography. His current work includes unvarnished and stirring pictures of gays in the US Military.
Tell us about your current work?
“I am currently working on transcribing and editing interviews and photographs of gay and lesbian service members and veterans after recording their experiences of serving in the military under the military’s ban on homosexuality, a project investigating the lives of people in Pennsylvania affected by the influx of gas drilling and photographing a diverse group of boxers in collaboration with a writer.”
What are the concerns of working photographers today:
“The concerns of journalists and documentary photographers have changed drastically with the advent of the internet and digital photography. Much has been written about the role of the professional photographer in relaying stories in traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, journals and books when there are images coming into news desks and editors attention from many sources. We see this in television as well as printed media. The truth is, even though there are millions of pictures logged onto major news media web sites, uploaded on Facebook, and otherwise transmitted through the web that bring us information form all corners of the world, fundamentally the opportunities for photographers in the field of journalism and documentary photography have become limited, or at least placed in the hands of the creator. Since support for assignment work has dried up, professional photographers find themselves creating and accessing new sources of funding and transmitting images – crowd funding and online magazines and web sites are the primary developments that have come directly out of this. “
Can you reference some examples?
Stephen Mayes states in an interview with Pete Brooks in Wired, “Photographs are no longer things, they are experiences.” On the other hand, production of good photography has become even more critical and has come under even greater scrutiny by editors and other users of photography.
However Kathy Ryan, in an article by Jose Cuenin in Le Journal de la Photographie on the use of Instagrams and other pictures by non-professionals in news sources says that “For a major news event, if it gives you a speed advantage, I would say sure, why not.” At the same time, she states, ‘These thousands of images couldn’t replace the traditional way to cover news event, it would be added material. The distinction made by professional photographers, not the least of which is a trained eye and fact-checking, is still essential’.”