In Conversation with ViewFind editors
ViewFind is a publishing platform launched in 2015 that aims to support photojournalists through visibility and assignment work. A team of their editors, including Abby Connolly, Judy Walgren, and Taz Lombardo, offer insights after curating Everyday Everywhere for a month.
Photo editor Abby Connolly loved watching the different visual styles of each curator unfold. Editorial director Judy Walgren felt she was playing a role in decolonizing visual archives. Photo editor Taz Lombardo saw it as being part of a modern “Family of Man.”
“It was incredibly fun to geek out and pretend to be Edward Steichen for a week,” Lombardo says.
Like many of the account’s guest curators, they all said they were looking for something “fresh,” different, maybe even surprising. It was the connection between subject and viewer that made Connolly select a photograph of a young boy on a horse and a “feeling” and “vibe” that provoked Walgren to choose an image of runners in the Bronx at sunset.
“The photographer put me right smack dab into that Bronx neighborhood street scene with a bunch of people who were having a great time,” Walgren says. “When I saw that photo I smiled, and I wanted other people to smile when they looked at it, as well. Sometimes curating is more about the emotion the image evokes than even the subject matter.”
Lombardo believes photography is the single most accessible form of storytelling.
“There are certain human relationships, challenges, facial expressions, and body language that can be seen and understood visually without speaking the language or sharing the culture,” Lombardo says. “If we can see ourselves in a story, we can empathize with another person’s struggle.”
Before landing a job at ViewFind, Lombardo says he rarely heard anything but gloom and doom regarding the photojournalism industry: layoffs, buyouts, struggling freelancers. But he found something different at ViewFind.
“We accept photojournalists into our network for free, based on merit alone,” Lombardo says. “To me, that opens the door for emerging photojournalists who can’t afford or have yet to gain the notoriety to get their important stories out into the world through other means.”
He also believes ViewFind has been able to publish stories that have fallen through the cracks at other majors publications, because of time limitations and the daily grind.
“Our tech and design team built an unparalleled story submission platform that allows our editors to take a good hard look at every submission, sometimes through two or three iterations as we provide feedback to the photographers,” Lombardo says. “There are so many successful stories to choose from.”
And even if ViewFind doesn’t accept a story, he says its editors give photographers feedback about how to make the submission better. This personalized attention and mentoring isn’t a given in an inundated, competitive, and subjective industry.
Connolly says the curation also inspired her and others at ViewFind to consider their Instagram strategy.
“At ViewFind we almost entirely edit stories for web only, and it’s good to strategize for different platforms as well,” she says.
The curation also led the team to reflect on how each of their editing styles contributes to the organization’s storytelling. By having a new curator every week, Lombardo believes the Everyday Everywhere audience gains a diverse multitude of world understandings and not just one.
“Judy or Abby may see something completely different in a story — a reason why that story should be told or a reason to have reservations about it,” Lombardo says. “I don’t want to put work out into the world that is only valuable to people like me.”