CHENNAI: Even regular citizens have turned to contributing to journalism through sharing photos via social media, demonstrating how images leave an indelible impact on the beholder. Thinking along those lines is Four Corners Project, a brain child of professors Jonathan Worth and Fred Ritchin from the Newcastle University, UK. Essentially allowing the photographer to display context through images, this project developed at the university’s Open Lab (a research group) aims to allow readers to investigate frames, the befores and afters, the backstories, copyright information, and links to the images.
A free journalism tool slated to make its debut early next year, City Express has a chat with the man behind it, Jonathan Worth, a renowned celebrity photographer and professor of various photography courses in the university.
How did Four Corners take shape?
The Four Corners idea was Fred Ritchin’s solution for the loss of context when images travel around the web. He proposed four corners as a tool to increase authorship and provide context. Open Lab’s interest is in adding provenance, engagement and transaction qualities to it. I came up with it as they seemed critical if we were to realise the potential of the digital image. Provenance is important as we need to know that what we’re looking at, hasn’t been tampered with on its way to our screens from the photographer or eye-witness. Engagement means being able to take part in the conversation around an image, to support it or maybe to challenge it, and I want that to happen through the image itself – like literally, you submit your perspective into the image and it becomes a part of an expanded narrative. And transaction is critical if we’re to make all of this sustainable, people love photography, we just make it incredibly hard for people to pay for it.
Does it have to adhere to theme-based stories?
It is for any and every sort of photographer and photograph, it is open-source and so one of the things we’re most excited about is finding out just how people use the different functionalities.
How good would be for photojournalists today?
This era is potentially a golden age for photojournalism, we’re hoping that the various functionalities of Four Corners and Four Corners Plus will help realise that.
Are there other such photojournalism tools in the making?
Four Corners Plus fits into a set of projects that we are partnering with World Press Photo Foundation to deliver. We’ll be announcing this in early 2017.
Would this project have any impact on dwindling copyright infringements?
Are copyright infringements dwindling? I’ve not heard that before. I think there’s a whole other conversation to have about all rights reserved copyright and its appropriateness in a digital world. The project should address concerns of the photographer, the subject and the reader and yes, its use of the Creative Commons suite of licenses will enable to the photographer to be explicit about their position regarding re-use, commercial use, adaption etc. The transaction functionality will enable people to buy and sell the image out in the wild and the provenance functionality will mean you’ll know whether what you’re buying is there real deal. I think these things address are exciting propositions for photographers and eye-witnesses concerned with misuse of their images in general including unlicensed use.
The demo version of the tool is available on fourcorners.io