Getting Started 3: The European Commission in Vienna
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Austria took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the beginning of this year and will will chair all meetings of the Heads of State or Government and all Council meetings during the six months of its Presidency. A good possibility for me to do some work...
During the 6 months of Austrias Presidency of the Council of the European Union I want to photograph all major events that take place in Austria. But I will not only photograph the big events with important and known politicians but I do also want to photograph these small meetings, the conferences and so called expert meetings. I want to take a journalistic look behind the scenes showing every day life and bizarre situations at meetings and talks from European politicians and their work. My main goal is to have a small but nice selection of unique images of this period of time. Something a little different. Easier said than done perhaps...
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I started by photographing the first big event that took place in Vienna. A working meeting between the Austrian government and the European Commission on January 9th. Before getting there I needed media accredidation. They arranged a form for online accredidation where you have to fill in all your personal details, the number of your press card if you have one or a letter of credit from a medium you are working for.
Since this project should become a personal project and I wasn't assigned to cover these events I simple stated my press card which I got about two years ago when I was taking pictures for a small unpaid Vienna based magazine which comes out only four times a year. Unfortunately this wasn't enough for the officials and they asked me for a letter of credit. Hm, I might be assigned to cover one or two of these events from this newspaper "Falter" I started to photograph for but this is in no way certain and I therefore wouldn't get this letter from them. So I called the owner of the photo agency "Contrast" in Vienna to ask him if he needs a photographer to cover these events. We met before that already once after my return from New York to talk about the photojournalism scene in Austria. A friend of mine suggested to do so since Gerhard Hinterleitner is very friendly and broadminded with advice and help. So I told him about my problem and see there... He wrote a letter of credit for me to cover these events. I am not getting paid simply for photographing and sending pictures to them but if they see photos they like and put in their database I might have a chance to sell a couple of them.
With this letter I got my accredidation for all major events and off I went Monday morning to spend my day taking pictures of this working meeting between the Austrian Government and the European Commission. Well pictures of the working meeting... Not really. Of course press access was strictly limited to three occasions. The first one was a "family photo" of all participants, 5 minutes and it was over. The second one was a press conference with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and their spokespersons. 30 minutes of talk in front of a boring white wall and it was over. And the third one was a meeting between Austrian President Heinz Fischer and the members of the European Commission. 5 minutes and it was over again.
No need to mention that all these photo opporunities began late, partly very late, up to over an hour later than expected.
So at the end of the day I shot about 400 photographs and I haven't really been happy with them. About a year and a half ago I photographed the funeral of former Austrian President Thomas Klestil and cardinal Franz König. I've been more happy with these pictures. But these have been different and visually more interesting environments as well. There was a possibility to get closer to the people and there have been much more people around. Not only politicians but by-standers and visitors. I did not have the chance for that on Monday. Everything was shut off.
So I came back with a bunch of press photos. Nothing really special but after editing through I did upload 42 of these images to the FTP server of "Contrast". And see there... They took 20 of these photos and put them in their database. You can check the selected photographs out if you go to the website of Contrast and type in "Martin Fuchs" in the search field on the left side. So up to now I created my portfolio, had meetings with photographers and newspapers, had my first assignments for the weekly newspaper "Falter" and the latest step so far is that I have the chance to sell some of my photographs through an Austrian photo agency.
Who knows, maybe somebody will buy one of these images. And though I am not totally happy with the pictures I took I'll continue to work on this project. I might have a better chance to get closer at these small conferences and meetings. Maybe there is less press hullabaloo going on.
By the way: Check out the photos Carl De Keyzer took at the 1997 World Economic Forum in Davos. After my fancy. :-)
Posted by Martin Fuchs on January 11, 2006 11:35 PM