Here in Spain there are serious professionals with no chance to work,” said José Colón. “As good as we are with our stories, in the end you have to go overseas to be recognized here. It’s ridiculous.”
Rather than gripe, Mr. Colón and four colleagues who are all well-traveled and widely published have decided to launch their own multimedia tablet publication called Me-Mo Magazine (short for Memory in Motion) for which they are crowd sourcing start-up funds. The project includes Manu Brabo, Diego Ibarra Sánchez, and Guillem Valle — all from Spain — and Fabio Bucciarelli, an Italian photographer and friend. They have won a raft of awards, including Mr. Bucciarelli’s Robert Capa Gold Medal and Mr. Brabo’s distinction as part of The Associated Press Pulitzer Prize-winning team in Syria.
They hope to use the latest digital technologies to provide immersive coverage, not just for their own projects, but for those of other talented photographers for whom outlets have been scarce. Reflecting their own interests, covering conflict in Libya and Syria, or the stories obscured by the headline-of-the-moment, they want to look at the human condition, examining human rights, health, education and other issues.
To some extent, that reflects the roots of some of the group’s founders. Mr. Colón was a small-town barber in Spain when he moved to Barcelona and got caught up in the street protests of the social movements of the late 1990s. There he met Mr. Valle, who was only 15, and fresh from a student exchange to Sarajevo that changed his life. They documented the squatters and demonstrations, getting close to the barricades.
“I didn’t come from the university,” Mr. Colón said. “I came from the streets. That was important to me. It’s the old school.”
Mr. Valle was barely in school. And by the time he was 17, he was working for a paper, where he met Mr. Ibarra. By 2008, some of them had met Mr. Bucciarelli, who was a disillusioned telecommunications engineer living in Spain. Their work would eventually take them overseas to cover conflict and longer stories.
“We each have our own way of telling stories,” Mr. Ibarra said. “But sometimes these themes don’t appear in the big media, so they remain untold. Look at the result of conflicts: education, the mentally ill, health in other countries. Then Iraq grabs the headlines and these realities continue in other countries. They remain untold.”
The photographers have found it particularly frustrating that in Spain, where they learned their craft, newspapers treat photographs “like a spot of color” to adorn text, Mr. Brabo said.
“You have to fight for prestige in my country,” Mr. Brabo said. “There are businessmen, or editors, who do not understand this market. They do not see it as something that could be a benefit. I’d like to know what goes through their minds.”
Though he thinks their digital project might be “divine vengeance from this generation of photographers,” he is more focused on creating than criticizing. Besides, with their busy schedules — and disparate home bases — it’s not easy to coordinate schedules when they can convene by Skype.
And while they will be showcasing their own work, they intend to spotlight others who are looking for a wider audience. The technology will help, but they know it’s not the only solution.
“We’re young, but we come with another generation’s ideas about photojournalism,” Mr. Colón said. “It’s about depth, commitment, honesty and independence. That has not been abandoned yet. Before, you did not have to send a picture in 10 minutes. Sometimes it took months for the negatives to arrive. Immediacy is not for me.”