In 2008, the photojournalist Guillaume Herbaut traveled with Amnesty International to document La Montaña, a violent region in the Mexican state of Guerrerro. He saw poverty, malnutrition, abuses by the army, and the devastations brought by narco-traffickers. He met people who had been raped, tortured, who had had family members murdered. Then his funds ran out, the trip was over, he went home.
But he wants to go back.
A site that launched yesterday aims to help him make that possible–with your help. Emphas.is is like Kickstarter, but specifically for photojournalism. Are you a photographer in need of funding for an ambitious project? Sign up on the site, list your fundraising goals, and spread the word. Are you a lover of quality photojournalism? Log on to the site and pitch in $10 or more for a project that impresses you. Funding a project also acts something like having a private correspondent from a region of interest; Emphas.is promises you’ll get updates from the journalists you’re supporting while they’re in the field, and that you can “interact with them directly about issues that you care about.”
Publishers, too, if they take a shine to a project on the site, can secure first publication rights by funding up to 50% of the project. Publishers also, of course, have to pay a negotiated fee for the photographer’s work.
Emphas.is believes stories should be co-funded with the public, something it thinks helps build audiences for photographers. A company statement says: “The idea behind Emphas.is is that photographers should build a steady base of followers who are passionate about their work and who can be called upon to back future projects.”
Content production just got a little more personal.