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Transition of the Photographic Industry
 – the Visual Economy

In the age of digital media, images are more important than ever, but the vast majority of image makers find it increasingly difficult to make a full time living from their work.

We are in a moment of contradiction where, at the same time, the social value of visuals has increased while the economic value of photography has declined. However, the industry’s attitude to the production and distribution of photographic images seems to have changed little. Photographers strive to create visual essays that are published in print media, that pay little to no money, exhibitions and photo books are popular with the audience but do not provide an income for the practitioner. Print sales are limited to a small number of high-selling artists. This research aims to understand this transition of the photographic industry.

‘Our research delves into this fascinating transformation within the photography industry, aiming
to make it more accessible and understandable for all.’

Forhanna believes that the future of photography lies in its potential to tell stories. A better understanding of what stories are, how they should be told visually, and what methods can be used to create stories are questions that need an answer.

The first research that Forhanna initiated and supported lead to the publication Tell your story, also by Prüst, and identified different models to financially support the production of photographic projects. It also included a manual with an instruction on how practitioners can identify the what and why of their stories. This new chapter takes a next step and goes into detail on the theory and practice of editing.

Forhanna supports research that aims to better understand the functioning of the photographic industry. This understanding helps practitioners and other to identify and adapt new strategies in rapidly changing market. Prüst’s research into the visual economy of the photographic industry offers valuable insights that help

Forhanna to distinguish the areas it wants to focus on. Forhanna supports Prüst’s efforts and has assigned him to produce a book and an event focusing on editing photographic stories.

The book ‘The Power of Your Story’ will be launched during a public event about the importance of stories in different photographic genres and practices in June 2024.

Prüst is conducting research into the workings of the photographic industry to understand how and why photographs circulate: why do we see the photographs that we see, in print, on social media, in museums, on billboards, and elsewhere?

The project takes the visual economy to look at all types of photography with the aim to describe an overall model of the photographic industry as a whole. This position allows Prüst to advice on a variety of photographic formats and platforms. He currently advises on how to implement fair practice for applied photography in the Dutch cultural sector. Also, in cooperation with the University of Leiden, Prüst is writing an article on the structure of the Dutch photographic sector.

For the Forhanna Foundation he is preparing a publication and public event on storytelling and editing as part of the Tell Your Story project for launch in June 2024. Prüst teaches on the visual economy at the MA Photography at the Moholy Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest.

The research into the visual economy includes multiple case studies to help distinguish the various fields of photography. One such case study helped to identify how and why photographic series can reach an audience.

This led to a description of how photographic stories can be created and how story formats can be successfully applied across various photographic genres to engage a public.

The researchproject ‘Tell Your Story’ focuses on creative projects and the way they were financed by their makers.

More about the Tell your story project.

About the researcher

Marc Prüst

Marc Prüst is an experienced visual story editor, photography curator, researcher, and advisor, primarily focused on institutions working within the realm of photography. With extensive experience in the field, he has developed a comprehensive method for crafting photographic projects, aiding photographers in conceptualisation, preparation, and editing. He oversees the production of their visual narratives across various platforms such as books, exhibitions, and other projects. Additionally, he conducts workshops, masterclasses, lectures, and contributes writings on photography.

Currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Groningen, Marc’s research focusses on the visual economy of the photographic industry. He collaborated with the Forhanna Foundation to develop a series of webinars on visual storytelling and publishing research on sustainable business models for documentary photographers.

Marc’s expertise extends to event organization and artistic direction. Notably, he organized and art directed the inaugural Nuku Photo Festival Ghana in 2018, spanning multiple cities including Accra and Tamale. His exhibitions, such as ‘ALEPPO’ at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, have garnered acclaim for their poignant narratives and visual impact.

Prior to his current pursuits, Marc served as the Artistic Director of the Photoreporter Festival in Saint Brieuc, France, from 2014 to 2016 and was involved in curatorial roles for prominent festivals such as FotoGrafia in Rome and LagosPhoto in Nigeria. His work experience at the World Press Photo Foundation and Agence VU’ underscore his extensive experience in organizing exhibitions and cultural activities on an international scale.