Jan 26, 2011


PadPlaces presented by Sguardi, the Nikon Italy on-line magazine.. you can see the article at this link 


Here is the English translation: 


In the beginning there were films, personal archives, photo agencies. Then came the digital acceleration of technological change, the explosion of the Internet web sites and self-organization in several ways, as in Facebook and Twitter. The iPad was a novelty. Andrea Pistolesi, geographical and social reportage photographer who has always explored the potential of new technologies, has developed PadPlaces, an application to distribute directly to iPad his "photo stories." "As I see it, I was the first photographer to try such a direct way" says Andrea, "and the choice was not taken lightly. In practice, this will show myself to the global market, avoiding the deadlock the traditional publishing media are living at this time (if they will ever recover)." A strong signal of self-employment, to "show full stories, with images developed by the photographer and not tailored to the publishers wishes" a new platform to achieve "broad freedom of expression." We reached Pistolesi in Bangkok, where he lives several months a year, to ask how he did it, and what and how PadPlaces changed the background of the profession of the photographer and his relationship with the publishing market.


How and why you developed the idea to create PadPlaces?
I saw the iPad as a revolution, much deeper and broader then the iPhone. In my opinion, the tablet has the potential to revolutionize the publishing market. Not only because of the increased ability to display multimedia content then  the press, but for a countless number of benefits: I read magazines anywhere in the world, I see television, all updated in real time.
Another fundamental point is that you can return a commercial value to the contents, which the web had unexpectedly obliterated. As noted originally by the New York Times, if the contents are not paid can only die, or live of advertising only, then totally losing their independence and objectivity.
With this background I didn't take long to consider the potential for our profession, considering also the rapid disappearance of traditional media. A new platform for our photographic content that can replace the now defunct travel magazines, and offer attractive benefits. Like the possibility of offering photo stories in their entirety and not in the selected string made from print. Style, format and sequence determined by the author in person. To this I can also add other content: text, video, audio, multimedia. And, last but not least, the possibility of spreading the work just completed or still in progress: think at the revolution in Bangkok updated daily!
Well I think this is an opportunity other than the real beginning of a new era publishing, and the photographer must begin to explore the possibilities to not be overwhelmed by the mediocrity of others. I was the first photographer in the world to make a publishing platform itself how it is PadPlaces (there were only personal portfolios between the apps), and of course now I have to struggle with the greater difficulty of those who travel alone: providing visibility to the project.

What is exactly PadPlaces?
Is an application for iPad (I'm working to bring on the iPhone and Android tablet). In fact, a catalog, a container, a reader. Through this you can search by various criteria and download my photo stories inside. The photo galleries that can be downloaded to become the slide show or single image with caption. At the end of each story is a page of text that may contain articles or short info.
There are some stories of my portfolio and sample, or assays, which can be downloaded for free. In general, the stories cost around a dollar, the price varies depending on the number of pictures and novelty. At present there are about 50 stories that are among my most recent and meaningful work. I count to update the content in real time, as I produce new stories.
It's very important to the ability to store the contents in your application, as a veritable library available even without Internet connection. The images, which are blocked by various copyright, can not be exported outside the application itself: I had to put this limit in order to show pictures that otherwise would be placed under limitations.
Another key issue now is the opportunity to interact directly with the public: even from within the app, without needing to go to a browser, you can access the blog PadPlaces, the website, the Facebook page and Twitter. Being a platform that sees constant additions, readers can be updated about new contents, but also give valuable information and advice.

How does it work?
For those already familiar with iPhone / iPad is simple. The application is a browser, an interactive catalog, to search for stories.
There are four sections: New Stories with the most recent productions, which then can also be found between the Travel Stories, Documentary and reportage social portfolios. In practice, this structure reflects the my own professional tendency to distinguish (sometimes with difficulty, it is true) my works between purely Travel and reportage on social-geographical matters. In the portfolios at this time I also added small photo essays (Phnom Penh taken only with a Nikon 24mm f 1.4, for example), but I want to create a section dedicated to pure photography.
After opening a story preview you can then purchase and download it. It 's a quick process, which requires a good WiFi connection though. A complete download history is stored in the library, called My Stories, from which you can run them either as slide show or as a manual feed, with or without captions. On the last page there are texts, articles, interesting links, depending on the subject.
An important choice was to not fill the screen of the iPad (as do many other app) to avoid having to cut the images that are visible in their entirety, with no cropping.

What developments do you expect?
The first question that I receive is why anyone would buy the photo stories. To me it seems wrong in principle, even if the current landscape comforts this question: so why would anyone buy a newspaper, a travel magazine, a picture book? Some will answer that in fact they do not sell much.. But here we can and should offer better content at a reduced price. If we oppose the pessimistic vision of a world now told in all its aspects, to an audience totally subservient to superficial contents, I think we can win that audience, certain a niche, which still wants to hear interesting  stories with a personal interpretation. Of course, we must offer contents butthat are really interesting.
In my projects is the incorporation of a section devoted to electronic books and multimedia content, but the limit does not exist .. This is beautiful.
I was also told that a photo gallery is now simply "boring" and there would be no need for vibrant animations, interactions, a bit 'of everything in short .. I think part of it is true, but also very risky. Of course, the beautiful and lively interactive play attracts the buyer, but once familiar he does not care anymore. This is the fate of many modern applications and publications as well. But PadPlaces was born with the idea of being a container with a long life, evolving, and the core content should be attracting the interest rather then their form of presentation.
Developments in the broadest sense of the market are just as extensive, and therefore uncertain. I do not think that publication at the individual level will have a large market. But other platforms like PadPlaces will be created who can become real tablet magazines. As I said in the presentation I don't not exclude the possibility of transforming my app in a collective container to give it more strength and more visibility.

As technological innovations are changing the craft of the photographer?
In reality they are not just changing it, they have triggered a revolution in photography.
To remain at the professional sphere: as if the literal definition of photography is "a person who makes photographs using a camera," we can say that today we all are photographers, you just need a cellphone in his pocket. This can only undermine the professional dimension. If the first street photographers have disappeared from the squares, now the figure of the documentary, travel, portrait and many others photographers must be revised. I say revised and not canceled because I think the interest for quality photography, thoughtful, that conveys feelings and not pure documentation, will survive. It will, however, have a very limited space and, unfortunately, will be dependent on the willingness of publishers who could build on this idea but instead are more interested in the large public that is not very attracted by quality. And if we do not invest in education, things will quickly get worse: are young people who have to invent new visual languages, find interesting stories, open new roads through the new media. It just as an alternative and suggestion to them that I did Padplaces. 

A more personal question: in relation to your job as a reporter, what is the reason of your choice of Bangkok as a second base other than Florence.
I opted for this double "life" for several reasons. I believe that Asia is the most interesting continent of this era, in fact, the only one who can compete with the West for culture and history. While we are fighting to save our (high) living standards, here they look ahead, and move faster. This creates an environment rich in stimuli and stories that I'm interested to tell. It's too bad that in the West we think that more of our backyard then to big changes in the world: it is a symptom of an inevitable decline.
Bangkok is the best logistics base, even for the lifestyle it offers. I came here the first time in 1978, I saw the transformation of the metropolis for more than three decades, often not positive, but for me it's like a second home.

Jan 6, 2011

KHO KONG, CAMBODIA - Story in Focus

With this post I start the Story in Focus section, to introduce you new stories and give better insight to decide if you want to download it on your iPad.
This story, shoot a few months ago, comes with a complete article in the final page by Massimo Morello (English and Italian versions). The synopsis..

The next Hong Kong, that of the golden days, free-zone for every sort of trafficking, should revive in Koh Kong, Cambodia, a village on the Gulf of Siam, just beyond the Thai border. It 'a promise of the former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a coup in 2006, convicted for corruption, fugitive in Dubai, Nicaragua, South Africa and Cambodia. Where he was appointed economic adviser from his "eternal and life-long friend" Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge for over twenty years and today Cambodian prime minister. Thaksin went to Koh Kong when he was in glory, and had twisted dealings with local boss Ly Yongphat, a senator from the ruling party in Cambodia, and suspected of being one of the Asian Godfathers who secretly control the East. Currently the only evidence of those connections and the future of Koh Kong is the Chinese-style resort-casino empire built by Ly Yongphat one hundred meters before the border with Thailand.
But beyond that kind of castle topped by dozens of statues of Greek gods there is nothing. The promised “special economic zone” in Koh Kong is a desert land surrounded by a wall already in ruins. The village of Koh Kong, on the banks of the river Kaoh Pao (dominated by a kilometer bridge financed by the ubiquitous Ly), is little more than a cluster of huts on the water - yes, smaller version of the Hong Kong in the 50s . For now, Koh Kong is mainly devoted to build Singapore's future, the sand removed from the bottom of its river that dozens of barges continue to carry to the city-state and whose sailors are the best customers of local prostitutes.
Koh Kong becomes a metaphor of that Next Asia described by Stephen Roach, economist and chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia: the promise, or threat of the Asian Century may be still far from becoming a reality. The Next Asia, in fact, is something that many analysts seem to assume only observing the thousand lights of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Without seeing what lies beyond the dark areas that cover the rest of the continent.


PadPlaces is becoming adult.. We have now over 50 stories, portfolios and essays available for download. The idea is to include in a reasonable lapse of time my most significant work of the past couple of years while adding the upcoming works.
For a forthcoming version of the application, that will include an essay section, we'll also prepare selections on thematic projects.
Thank you for following us and providing suggestions and feedback!