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Patrick Brown Portfolio on American Photo March 24, 2012

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Patrick Brown’s work is being funded through Emphas.is. And suddenly it is everywhere.

American Photo is featuring his portfolio on the magazine’s website.


Partick Brown Photo: Bharatpur, Chitwan National Park, Nepal 01/2004 At the Bharatpur barracks a Royal Forestry Department Officer holds a rhino skull. The stockpile of items is 5 years old and the value is an estimated $750,000 USD.
Patrick Brown Photo: Bharatpur, Chitwan National Park, Nepal 01/2004 At the Bharatpur barracks a Royal Forestry Department Officer holds a rhino skull. The stockpile of items is 5 years old and the value is an estimated $750,000 USD.

“You ended up getting this book funded through the crowd-sourcing website Emphas.is. What drove you to go that route rather than going with a more traditional publisher?

If I had only known now what I know then. I went to NY and saw some publishers. I went to London and to Amsterdam. Most of them said it’s not a palatable subject. A couple of publishers sat on it for a while. Then the publishing climate started to change and people were asking for $30,000 to publish a book. That sounded like self-publishing to me, but they get their stamp on it and I don’t have any control over it. With the amount of money I spent on air travel and hotels and other expenses going to see these publishers, I could’ve actually published the book myself. Tina [Ahrens, co-founder of Emphas.is] saw the project eight or nine years ago. She has seen it grow and she’s always been there. She’s a dear friend as well. She approached me when they were branching out into this publishing project. I was a little bit reluctant, but it’s a new and different way of approaching the same old problem of finding finances to publish a book. They gave me great freedom.”

From a Skype interview with American Photo

Patrick Brown video on emphas.is. Publishing Project Now Funded. February 23, 2012

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Patrick Brown Endangered Species Emphas.is February 1, 2012

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Former Perth Photographer Patrick Brown is a stubborn man. Now based in Bangkok he has been working on his Endangered Species Series for many years. In 2006 he exhibited his work at Foto Freo in a monumental exhibition in Fremantle Prison. James Estrin from New York Times Lens has posted of his latest attempt to gain a book publishing deal. On the eve of Foto Freo 2012 it is Emphas.is, the crowd sourcing operation that has given him hope of finally achieving his goal. This gives  Australian photographers and the Australian public an opportunity  to support Patrick and his book ‘Trading to Extinction‘.
“Undeterred by beatings, police detentions or exotic illnesses, he has spent most of the past decade obsessively documenting the illegal trade of endangered species.
PBR0.59 600PBR000.384 600

Almost as great a task, however, has been trying to sell his project, “Trading in Extinction,” to book publishers on four continents. Many turned him down because of what they perceived as unpalatable subject matter. Others just demanded he pay for the privilege of being published.

“One publisher didn’t even want to see the work,” he said. “He just wanted to know if I had $30,000. I didn’t have it, because I spent my entire life savings producing this body of work.”’

The experience left him frustrated and demoralized — but still determined.

His luck changed when Emphas.is, the photography crowd-sourcing Web site, invited him to participate in its book publishing venture which began Monday. The photographers Peter Dench and William Daniels are also featured.

The founders of Emphas.is Publishing — Karim Ben Khelifa, Tina Ahrens, Walter Tjantele and Fanuel Dewever — are trying to fill a void for photographers trying to publish documentary and photojournalism projects.

“The publishing world today is not really sympathetic to photojournalists and probably with good reason,” Mr. Ben Khelifa said. “I think publishers do what they can, but photojournalism is a small niche. And that makes it hard for them to get the return.”” words by James Estrin


Patrick Brown/Panos Pictures A large bull elephant in Chitwan National Park with its leg chained. The 50-year-old animal was restrained after having killed five mahouts (handlers) in its lifetime.

The goal of Emphas.is Publishing is to help photographers produce books affordably while retaining full editorial and design control. Emphas.is will assist in financing, printing, shipping, warehousing, distribution and promotion.

All production costs will be raised in advance by pre-selling 100 limited-edition signed volumes, packaged with an archival photographic print, for $100. Larger prints and other services, like workshops, may also be used to defray production costs. Printed in Italy, a typical press run would be 1,000 copies. The remaining 900 books will also be pre-sold or made available through bookstores, social networks and the Emphas.is Web site.

Mr. Brown, who is represented by Panos Pictures and won a World Press Award in 2004, does not see himself as an animal activist. He wears leather shoes and enjoys a good steak. But the story of the exotic animal trade was not being told when he started a decade ago. The profits were enormous — for the smugglers, not for him — with rhinoceros horns selling for more per ounce than gold.

If enough people pre-order Mr. Brown’s book, he will have completed what he set out to do 10 years ago: expose the devastating effects of the trade on endangered animal species. Much more attention has been paid to the issue since he started, and he said he hopes that as enforcement increases, smugglers will look elsewhere.

“A smuggler is a smuggler,” Mr. Brown said. “He doesn’t care whether it’s half a tiger, guns or heroin. At the end of the day, it’s all about making a profit.”

Emphas.is Crowdfunding for Photojournalists March 30, 2011

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Photo Carolyn Drake

Photo Carolyn Drake

Online crowdfunding has proven to be a  viable means of financially supporting creative projects. Sites like Kickstarter.com have enabled individuals to appeal directly to an audience and realize a range of ideas that otherwise would have had limited chances of getting off the ground.

Emphas.is, a recently launched crowdfunding website, is exclusively for project work by photojournalists. Its bold ambition is to create an environment where members of the public can fund projects and connect directly and more meaningfully with photographers in the field. This connectivity also encourages accountability as photographers are asked to provide project updates directly to their supporters.

“We did not want to ask the public for charity and donations towards photographic projects,” said the site’s co-founder Tina Ahrens. “We want to offer the reader something in return.” Ahrens said that Emphas.is is “built on the idea that in today’s media world, things have radically changed. People increasingly seek and rely on direct sources. They want to be able to engage on the issue that they care about.”

This new platform allows people an opportunity to support something they believe in and allows them to bring issues to the attention of a wider audience. The site also builds on the culture of social networks. “People want to be recommended something from someone close to them,” Ahrens said. “They want to decide how deeply they immerse themselves in a story. They want to discuss and shape it.”

Drake’s motivation for being among the first to test the viability of the site’s model is simple: “I just want to raise some money to keep working on my Uyghur project, to know I’m going there with actual funding.” She said that the site will hopefully put her in a position to explore new ideas, have creative flexibility and be in a good position to finish a project. “It would be nice if through this fundraiser I end up making contact with more people who share an interest in Uyghurs or in the themes of my work,” she said. “And I’d like to find new ways to have a dialogue about it.”

With much discussion and anxiety around the survival of photojournalism, Emphas.is offers a real focus for engagement and support. So far, the response has been positive. Within the first few days of the site going live, a total of $15,000 had been pledged. On March 29, Drake’s The Story of Uyghur became the first project to be successfully funded.

Edited from Lightbox.Time.Com


Emphas.is September 20, 2010

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Emphas.is, NiemanLabJournalism, Photojournalism , add a comment
Hot from the Press:
The subject of crowd funding for photojournalists.

By Laura McGannSept. 1310 a.m.

If times have been tough for journalists who write, they’ve been no better for photojournalists. Magazines and newspapers have cut staff positions and freelance budgets. And the Internet has given rise to free or inexpensive substitutes, like Flickr and iStockphoto. A new startup launching this winter hopes it has come up with a way to solve some of the field’s financial problems, while giving world-class photojournalists a new level of freedom in telling stories and interacting with their audience.

The site, called Emphas.is, will be a platform that looks to the crowd to fund photographers’ work in dangerous places around the world. Similar to other crowdfunding sites like Spot.us or Kickstarter, photojournalists will post trip pitches with a fundraising goal. If that goal is reached, backers will get access to postings from the photographer about his or her experiences and the photographs and videos that are filed along the way. The photos will be initially available to only to backers, but photographers will be free to distribute them as they please — Emphas.is will not own the photographs.

“We’ve been badly hit and we need a solution,” says the site’s founder Karim Ben Khelifa about his work as a photojournalist. In the last 12 years, Ben Khelifa has photographed stories in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somaliland, Kashmir, Kosovo, and other war-torn and dangerous places. His cofounder, Tina Ahrens, is also an established photo editor. Ben Khelifa’s reached out to elite photojournalists around the world to join him in launching the project. He says plenty of his colleagues are eager to give the idea a try. “We have the top of the top,” he says.

The platform is not a distribution tool meant to reach media outlets, but an experiment in storytelling that will let the photographer take on a more central role.

“The project comes out of frustration,” Ben Khelifa told me. “Having a double-page [photo display] in Time or Vanity Fair…it doesn’t give me a point of view. You might have seen my photographs in Time magazine, but you don’t know me. And I don’t know you.”

And maybe that doesn’t make sense. Photojournalists, particularly war photographers, have a certain allure, one Ben Khelifa hopes is the basis for a business model. “We have a romanticism around our profession,” he says. “We realized that our work isn’t the end product, but how we got to it. This is what we expect to monetize.”

Ben Khelifa says he’s often asked how he manages to move around a war zone, or join up with groups like the Taliban and photograph them from the inside. That backstory will be the draw, he says. Backers on Emphas.is will get to meet the photojournalist and then ride along virtually as they sneak through border check points and embed themselves with rebel groups. (Imagine getting a text message from the photog you’ve funded: I’m entering a dangerous region of Yemen, will check back in three days.) The experience will drive how the audience consumes the story.

Ben Khelifa also says that it’s a good opportunity for photographers passionate about injustice in far-flung places. A crowd of funders can support a trip in a way only a few magazine photo editors could before.

But that doesn’t mean media isn’t interested the project. Ben Khelifa is rounding up endorsements from top photo editors and directors at outlets like Time and agencies like  VII and Magnum. For them, the platform offers the potential for both more and lower-cost high-quality photography.

Once the site is launched, photographers will bank on the public pledging small amounts to back their ideas. Ben Khelifa says one of their strategies for reaching those potential donors is through NGOs with large email lists. (NGOs themselves will only be allowed to fund 50 percent of any single project.)

For now, Ben Khelifa has raised his own startup funding from a number angel investors. The next few months will be about getting the details in order, including finishing the platform and bringing on photographers. He hopes to see the site go live in January 2011.

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