The images of our next featured age fotostock photographer, Ton Koene, might provoke a wide range of emotions in our readers. What they won’t provoke is indifference. This series, “Doctors at the frontline,” documents the work of Doctors without Borders at a hospital in Afghanistan. And, more powerfully, it tells us something about the lives of women and children in that country. You can read more about this hospital here and you can see more of Koene’s images at www.tonkoene.nl.
At a time when microstocks have started selling photos for editorial use, images like these should invite photographers to a moment of serious reflection. The value of these images is their very serious and realistic vision of the day-to-day reality in an Afghan hospital. Their value is the careful composition and storytelling, making them images that communicate powerfully, not sensationally. Their value is the trust the photographer has developed with the hospital and ONG to gain access and the careful planning behind photojournalism in a conflict zone. Finally, the value of these images is the financial cost of a trip and long stay in Afghanistan and the risk of harm that the photographer has accepted.
Should a photographer´s blood, sweat, toil & tears be available for a 14 cents download? If we sell such valuable images for pocket change, won´t the day come when these valuable and unique images cease to exist?
Q: Why did you choose to be a photographer?
A: It is fun. You have no boss, no personnel, and can be creative and free as a bird while travelling the world.
Q: How do you get funding for your trips and projects?
A: It depends, sometimes I seek funding for projects, but mostly I invest profits from my previous projects to initiate new projects.
Q: What equipment do you carry when you’re packing light?
A: I always take: two Canon 5D, one 24 mm 1.4, one 24 mm-70 mm 2.8, one fisheye, flash and chargers. I have no telephoto lens.
Q: Where is your favourite place to photograph?
A: Outside, in all weather conditions. I love the tropics to shoot. I also shoot a lot in conflict areas where the emotions in people are stronger.
Q: Where are you still hoping to go?
A: There is no limit. I would like to go to places which are not photographed too often.
Q: Have you ever faced great difficulty in gaining access for a story? How did you manage it?
A: I always have problems in photographing as the context I shoot is violent and corrupt. It requires good preparation and being transparent in what you want to do. Also, you must talk to the right people and take good advice.
Q: Do you feel that viewers nowadays have become desensitized to images of war, refugees, etc or are they still impacted by these images?
A: Yes, and often these images are indeed cheap. But a good photograph is always powerful, no matter how often it is being done….but you have to be creative and original…
Q: Which is your favourite of your features?
A: Any feature which shows the strength of people in difficult situations. I like the transvestites in Pakistan as the images are good, but it was also difficult to make.
Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?
A: AGE has a wide network of distribution which helps my sales and income.
Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?
A: The worst advice: Do not start doing it, it’s hard to get an income (which is true, but who cares).
The best advice: If a picture is not good enough, you are not close enough (Robert Capa).
Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?