Tim Hetherington on Using the Internet to Build an Audience
Oscar-nominated filmmaker (Restrepo) and award-winning photojournalist Tim Hetherington sat down with us in December for a wide-ranging interview about his work and what it means to be an image maker today. Here he speaks about the need for photographers to open up their conception of photography to include other media (transmedia), if they are interested in gaining a wider audience. The transcript is below.
I think something really interesting happened with the Afghan Project. For me, it was the fullest expression of a “transmedia project.” You had books, and you had exhibitions, and you had films, and you had TV broadcasts, and you had installations. And, through the internet they’ve all built this
awareness that’s kind of pinged off each other. And that it actually led to the Infidel book selling out within the first month of it being published. We went straight on to a second print run. And there was 5,000 copies printed in the first print run, and now 4,000 in the second print run.
Now, as a photographer dealing with documentary images of war, that’s incredible. And that happened because of the film… and all the other things related. So what it meant was there was an audience out there… It wasn’t that people didn’t want to see this work, which is often the thing about documentary and about war: “people don’t want to see it.” Well actually, in certain ways that’s not right. It’s that “how do we get audiences to focus on what we’re doing?” And just making photographs may not be enough. In fact, all these other allied media actually are very helpful if you want to be a photographer.
[speaking on transmedia]…In other ways, Martin Parr curates shows. He writes and comments and all of that builds into his print sales, I’m sure. So whether or not consciously, he’s already acting in that way that builds his business.
I just think that if you want to think very precisely about photography and nostalgic photography, you’re dealing with a very small arena. And I’m interested in the world and political ideas. And that’s what’s much more important than just the photographic form. In certain spheres. In other spheres, sure, I’ll put prints on a wall and it will be a more aesthetic consideration about photography.