Review of Ed Kashi

Contemporary photographer Ed Kashi distinguished himself from other photojournalist by embracing the onslaught of technological advancements in the field of digital while still maintains the spirit of a print photographer.  As accomplish photojournalist for National Geographic, he relies on both digital and analogue in his work.  Shooting in the RAW format with a 5D Canon, Ed Kashi covets the freedom of digital so much that he has not shot with film in over three years despite its being his primary medium since the onset of his career in 1979.

Dedicated to exposing the social and political turmoil that defines the conflicts of our time, Ed Kashi work deals primarily with the complexities of poverty and deracinate that which many prefer to ignore.  A graduate of Syracuse University in 1979, Kashi work has appeared in National Geographic, The Times, The New York Times Magazine and Newsweek.    In the past couple years, Kashi has been manipulating the digital medium in order to test its limitations.  His last project could be defined as a visual story communicated through the multimedia composite of photographs.

Whereas many photographers in this day and age feel threatened by the emergence of the new digital imaging technology, Ed Kashi has cultivated a style that harvests a sense of authenticity regardless of the complexities of the medium. For Kashi, he believes that “despite all of the complaints that photographers offer about the new tools and technology, that they fear they’re being taken over by it or losing something—in fact, their control or authorship is far greater now.” Branching out to new medias, Ed Kashi employs his digital acquisition to redefine the potentials of the medium within a contemporary social landscape.  The possibilities of web is rooted in the its ability to mass distribute information.

Ed Kashi exclaims, “with National Geographic, I can reach 40 million people around the world. That’s quite a potent audience.’ But there’s something different about how I can reach people on the Web that in a way is almost more intimate and potentially could be even bigger.” Kashi admits that there is still a part of him that harken back to the time of still photography.  However, his decision to make the digital switch stemmed from the acknowledgement that he would have the facility to globally reach the masses through the world wide web.

Coupling advocacy journalism with the exploitation of digital possibilities, Ed Kashi voice is heard.  He admits that there is little objectivity to his work, but rather his politics bleed through the images of his portfolio.   Ed Kashi is more interested in creating photographs that influence people, that trigger a reaction, rather than focusing on the aesthetic fine art end of the medium. The intercourse of photographic techniques and digital imaging gives birth to an innovative and flawless art form.

As a photographer, I agree with Ed Kashi approach to the recent technological developments in the medium- one has no choice but to adapt, especially in the field of photojournalism, commericial and fashion photography. He asserts, “I can’t escape the fact that the new digital tools—along with the Internet as a distribution system for images, video and multimedia stories—has the potential to overshadow traditional print media because of its potential to reach more people and have a more powerfully engaging message.”   I agree that it is imprudent to turn a blind eye to the fact that we are currently in the midst of a digital revolution that is accelerating at such fast and unpredictable rate that the future is laced with incertitude. The technological movement toward digital has served as a catalyst to the way photography is perceived and distributed.

In his closing remarks, Ed Kashi admits that “technology will change and I’ll once again have to change with it.”  The accelerating rate at which technological advanments are being made are so inpredictable that a blank canvas suits best the years to come.

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