Larry Nighswander, a former image editor at the National Geographic magazine put it succinctly about selecting images for publication or general display. He said that the image(s) has to satisfy two out of the three following conditions: 1) Have editorial merit, 2) Be qualitatively superior and 3) Be created in an interesting and unique manner. Satisfying all three would make it a great image indeed.
“Migration statistics show over sixty percent of all moves occurring at the (rural to rural) intra-district level. However, the steep increase in rural to urban migration in the past four decades is also staggering. Over 200 million people now live in the crowded cities of India.”
Well meaning as it may be, I am not sure that this photo project has been executed or displayed properly (on the website). For one, I am not able to emotionally connect with anyone of her subjects. People’s faces are much farther away from our view, blurred or cropped off completely. The images all appear to have been shot with a wide-angle lens, more than an arm’s length away from her subjects or behind the secure confines of a car. It’s only in the image called “Joyride 1” that we get any sense of who these displace people might be.
I am led to believe the photographer travelled great distances to capture these images. But why only limit the gallery selection to 10 images? Is this a case of editing too tightly? It’s not like there isn’t enough space on the web to display a greater variety. Qualitatively, the black & white images are rather poor. They have a lot of digital noise (scanned improperly), which makes identifying and, to repeat this issue, connecting with people very difficult. I also get far less information from the photographs than I do from the accompanying captions. The images lack any sort of hook to have me better understand the plight of millions on the move.
This is a project with great potential. I truly hope it can be redone after addressing the failures in both the technical and methodological approaches offered to us.
While Singh’s images certainly have editorial merit, in my opinion they fail to satisfy all of the conditions espoused by Nighswander. I am sure she has an explanation for this and Tiffinbox would love to hear from her.