Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spread the Word

Last Tuesday when I phoned in an order to B&H, I was surprised to get hold of a rather chatty sales rep.

When I added the usual sis rolls of Kodak BW400CN to my order he launched into a passionate plea for help in getting the word out that film is alive and well and for sale at B&H.

He said I couldn't imagine how many calls he's received from people all over the country who have been told by the people in their local camera shops that no one is manufacturing film any more. He said it's ridiculous, but it's happening: there are a lot of people who are being told and believe that Kodak and Fuji are no longer manufacturing film.

The sales rep implored me to spread the word, and insisted that a "grass-roots" movement is needed to counter this misinformation. He said half of every dollar Kodak makes is from the sale of film and that people need to know that.

I'm not certain of the actual figures, considering the diversity of Kodak's business, but I do know that film is still a profitable item for Kodak. Here's a quote from an e-mail I received from Kodak's PR department last February:

' A January 31, 2007 Kodak press release noted, "Film and Photofinishing Group earnings from operations were $77 million, compared with $51 million a year ago..." '

Another thing to consider is that both Kodak and Fuji recognize China and India as being two of the biggest markets for film products. There is still a considerable demand for film around the world. We sometimes lose sight of that here in the US.

I told the B&H guy I'd do my best to spread the word. Of course, when it comes to film, I tend to do just that every chance I get.

By the way, if you have never heard of Freestyle Photographic Supplies in Hollywood, CA. check them out . They're really committed to silver.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Bang Bang Club

The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots From a Hidden War
by Greg Marinovich & Joao Silva
2000, Basic Books

The Bang Bang Club is more than a book about photographers addicted to the rush of covering conflict. It's a revealing account of the social and political turmoil of South Africa in the early 1990's.

Greg Marinovich, Joao Silva, Ken Oosterbroek, Kevin Carter and Gary Bernard were five photographers, five friends covering the final years of South Africa's bloody struggle to establish democracy and majority rule. They formed the core of a group of photojournalists that became known as "The Bang Bang Club."

Authors Marinovich and Silva, give us an up-close look at what it takes to be an effective photojournalist in the midst of the grossest brutality of which humankind is capable. They dispel the myth of objective journalism and testify to the reality that no one survives war and conflict unaffected: not combatant, civilian, journalist or photographer. To a large degree the book is about, "paying the price."

Although this group of photographers may be little known in the U.S., they are are held in the highest esteem in the international community of photojournalists. You may not recognize their names, but you know their Pulitzer Prize and Ilford Award winning images.

I would certainly recommend reading The Bang Bang Club. It is at times a bit self indulgent and the book's photo reproductions are disappointing. However it provides a unique perspective on a most troubled period of our most recent past,s and it really is an eyes-wide-opened look at an often too glamorized profession.