Photo ©Peter Pereira
Tuesday afternoon, just before 2pm PST, the 7.0 quake hit Haiti leveling much of Port au Prince. Not content with texting a contribution, San Francisco photojournalist Lane Hartwell wanted to do more. Why not produce a magazine as a fundraiser?
Two days later, Thursday evening at 11pm Lane tweeted that the 40-page color magazine Onè Respe, with images and stories of Haiti, had been edited, designed, printed and published. Online orders would ship immediately with proceeds going to the American Red Cross.
How did this happen so quickly? and what does it mean for the future of print photojournalism and humanitarian efforts?
“My first instinct was to want to go there and shoot,” said Lane, “but that wasn’t possible.” “How can I help?” she asked. The next morning the answer came. She’d been aware of HP’s print-on-demand magazine project MagCloud and had worked with consultant Derek Powazek in the past. “Let’s do a MagCloud magazine,” she thought. A few phone calls and Derek was on board, offering to design the layout and shepherd the project to completion. HP discounted, and then donated all the printing costs.
Fellow photojournalist Peter Pereira and Lane had kicked around the idea of a magazine and he had been in Haiti in November. He quickly agreed to contribute an essay. The idea of images of Haiti before the earthquake was appealing. Seeing the real life of the people of Haiti could be educational, and give a feeling of hope rather than despair.
By Wednesday afternoon the project had taken on a life of its own. Working with partner and co-editor Michael Biven, Lane put word out on Facebook for photographers with images of Haiti. Things were happening fast. Newspaper staff photographer Chet Gordon, who works with NGOs, had shot in Haiti in 1993 and sent scans of Port au Prince street scenes.
The last piece seemed like a long shot. Lane had had a portfolio review with Mary Ellen Mark and kept in touch with her, so wrote asking if she’d like to contribute. “Of course,” was the reply. “I feel honored to give an image.” Her image, an ethereal black and white of Mother Teresa giving communion to a nun, was specifically chosen to give a message of hope, compassion and charity.
Once the images were gathered, uploaded, and edited, the layout was designed in pdf form and sent up to the printer. Forgoing the normal print proof, the team reviewed the final version online and by Thursday evening the full 40 page issue was ready for HP’s Indigo printers. Online orders, paid by credit card, started shipping immediately. Mine arrived in two days by US Post. The color is sharp, the paper good quality, though not brilliant, and the color wraparound cover of a schoolboy at a desk is strong and poignant.
With all the emphasis on online, it might seem surprising to put such effort into creating a print publication. Online is more immediate, but the attention span is short; people donate, and move on. A print magazine is tangible, so fundraising becomes a two way street. People give generously to relief efforts; they receive in return a window into the actual life of the people of Haiti, not disaster images, but photos of children and families, of day-to-day life and work, of what it is like to live in the country. The magazine is something they can keep, and pass around. Months from now, when the daily news has moved on, the images will still inform and inspire.
The quick turnaround from MagCloud offers photographers, not just photojournalists, new options for presenting their work and telling their story. There are no up-front costs. You can update the layout and add or change images at any point. In addition to humanitarian fundraising, magazines could be a revenue source to support ongoing projects, or simply another avenue for publicity and marketing. No doubt we’ll see more issues from MagCloud as photographers experiment with this new outlet.
If you haven’t ordered a copy, please do so. The price is $12, all of which goes to the American Red Cross International Response Fund for Haiti relief (plus US postage). You might even order several and give one to your community library.