If you thought photography was an individual pursuit, think again. Photography collectives, from Magnum to VII to The Deadbeat Club, have always played an important role in pushing the medium forward. In this regular series, Collective Vision, we find the photographers who are stoking a resurgence of the collective and rewriting the rules of the game.
Ruido Photo began as a group of students who saw photojournalism as a tool for reflection and social change. It has since developed beyond a photographers’ collective, to produce text, photo, video, documentaries, exhibitions and community projects – all with a focus on human rights and social issues. Ruido works internationally from a base in Barcelona, Spain and is made up of three photographers, one journalist, a designer, a fundraiser who collaborate with many others on specific projects.
Ruido embed themselves into the lives of the people they document and joined Latin American migrants making the treacherous journey north in search of a better life in the US to produce the documentary María En Tierra De Nadie. They work in marginalised communities around the world, including spending time behind bars in El Salvador to report from one of the most overpopulated prison systems in the world. Huck spoke to photographer Edu Ponces to find out more.
What made you decide to join forces?
Ruido started when we were students interested in critical photojournalism. After a few years we realised there was a crisis in journalism’s business model and that we had to build an alternative platform. Today we work a lot like a news agency, which allows us to take control of our work and do journalism that we believe in.
What does working together allow you to do that you couldn’t do by yourselves?
Working together in a collective often means you end up doing things you don’t want to do. You have to sacrifice management, meetings, applying for scholarships and awards… But at the same time there are many advantages. There are more minds thinking about how to plan projects, edit work and able to help out when somebody is on the ground and needs a focus. It lets us take on work commitments that one person couldn’t do alone because we know that there is a team behind us. For me, the best part is that working surrounded by your friends is more fun.
What have you learned from other photographers in the collective? Has working together changed the work you produce?
As a team we have ten years of experience and we’ve learned almost everything together. There are members of the team who are steeped in photography, while others have really strong investigative or video skills. Everyone contributes their talents and energy, which stops us from stagnating. One of the biggest advantages is that the achievements of each person have repercussions for everyone and give us all more opportunities for work.
What’s the future for the collective?
In our opinion, the future lies in working collectively. The way the industry is going, photographers are asked to do more themselves every day: raise funds, produce and distribute work, and do multimedia, like video. If we don’t want to depend on the dying media outlets, we’re forced to work together as a team. Sometimes it’s difficult but we believe in an African saying that goes “If you want to go fast, walk alone. If you want to go far, walk together.”