Published by Dutch Journalism Fund (Dutch)
Combine Berlin, the city of start-ups, with photography and you get an inspirational conference full of technological developments for media and journalism. The EyeEm conference last Saturday was a lively mix of young talent, established speakers and innovative start-ups.
EyeEm is a platform for photographers. It was founded in 2010 to boost young photographers’ chances of being discovered by offering their work to big companies and agencies. Simultaneously, companies had access to affordable photos of high quality. You could have a photograph with an editorial license for $20.
18 million professional and amateur photographers use EyeEm at the moment. The conference’s annual photography competition is the largest photography competition in the world. This year saw the competition attract 270,000 submissions from 38,000 photographers, from 164 countries.
For the photography competition, international speakers from World Press Photo and CreativeLive shared their vision for the future of photography, photo journalism, and media. Here are the most important insights of the day, which revolved around the theme ‘revolutions in photography and visual communication.’
The future of visual storytelling
Monica Allende silenced the whole room with her presentation of 9 projects. Allende worked as a picture editor at Sunday Times Magazine for 13 years. Eventually she left because she felt the opportunities at the magazine were too restricted. Now she works as a Cultural Producer and Photo Editor for Screen Inc., among others.
The projects shown by her drew attention to different subjects, ranging from concentration camps to aerospace and violence at the border between Texas and Mexico. Allende’s message is that by reaching an audience, all media options and platforms – such as virtual reality, film and education – need to be explored.
An example is the project Flint is a Place by Zack Cenapari. The project is about the town of Flint in Michigan, the birth place of kickboxer Claressa Shields, who as a 17-year-old, won gold at the 2012 Olympics. The project consists of a series of short documentaries, virtual reality, an interactive website, a free magazine for the residents of Flint and an installation.
Artificial intelligence lowers threshold
The overwhelming presentation of Samim Winiger, a designer and engineer, embodies the theme of the day. For most people I spoke to after the conference, his presentation is a favourite.
In only 20 minutes, Winiger shows the possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI) for creativity. Drawing, architecture, photo editing, writing, logo design: everything can be easier and especially faster with the help of AI programmes. Several of those are already available.
AI helps us, as individuals, to develop the skills to use multiple platforms and media faster, like Allende recommends. According to Winiger, AI leads to “democratization and escalation of creativity”. Creativity and art become more accessible for people in a shorter amount of time. You no longer have to study for years to learn a new skill.
Examples are No Man’s Sky, an online game generated by a computer, and ShadowDraw, that helps you with drawing. According to Winiger, programmes to speed up colour optimisation are in the making for photographers and if someone is not smiling on a photograph you can always use SmileVector.
Reading longer with Medium
55% of visits on webpages are shorter than 15 seconds. Knowing this, the founders of Medium created a platform for longer, quality stories. Visitors of Medium stay on the page for an average of 2 minutes and 21 seconds.
According to Noah Rabinowitz, Creative Director of Medium, the platform is designed to optimally support writers. For example, they have many handy statistics that tell you how many people read your story and the number of people who only read halfway. You can also see where the traffic to your article comes from and who read it.
Besides that, the interactive nature of Medium creates a new form of writing. Readers make suggestions and ask questions when sentences are unclear. It even goes a step further: sometimes stories are researched and created with the readers, like Ghoast Boat, a story about a boat that disappeared with 243 refugees. Together with the readers, the writers look for answers about the boat’s disappearance in the Mediterranean Sea. Even the White House uses Medium to explain complex cases to the public, including the deal with Iran and the budget for 2016.
All in all, the conference shows an image of the future where you are not limited by one medium, AI helps with the necessary skills, and an interested audience engages with quality stories on online platforms.
Photos by EyeEm