“Plata o plomo” is a photojournalism project carried out by two photographers in Badajoz. Its 52 chapters invite the viewer to share the authors’ everyday lives throughout a year. ‘Plata o plomo’ provides a dialogue between the two distinct ways of understanding this job, and subsequently, the life around them, in all their nuances and with all their contradictions. This dialogue goes beyond the professional field, and eventually reaches the most intimate aspects of the photographers’ lives.
The economic crisis in Spain spread to mass media, which resulted in the closure of many newspapers. The press industry has still not fully recovered. Survivors have met a similar fate. Job cuts emptied lots of offices, and the journalists who stayed had no choice but to work under the threat of unemployment, handling an amount of work which only could be maintained by sacrificing quality standards. The seeds of these years of job insecurity have grown a bitter crop of discouragement, fear, and uncertainty. All these factors determine the working style, in which the role played by the photojournalist is at issue. In business terms, a photojournalist is a dispensable expense.
In this context, ‘Plata o plomo’ is born as an attempt to build a photographic dyke, to keep mediocrity and discouragement from sneaking into our professional and personal lives. It is a headlong rush aiming to grow through experience, and filling the gap that mass media are not still ready to face; searching for challenges, inventing languages with no fear to fail, creating the right space to favour the need to grow day by day. In a work flow created by the photographers themselves within the digital magazine ‘Cultura Badajoz’, it aims to keep us active, and to survive in a context in which the employers who took over the control have imposed audiovisual poverty on us, and have implemented their economic criteria instilling fear, threatening to close the presses.
So, ‘Plata o plomo’ have grown day after day, moving beyond its original function of a personal diary. It has come to life, and has become a portrait of our job, and of everything around us: our fears, our shelters, our challenges, our friends. A survival manual, and a homage to all fellow workers, with a message of optimism reminding us that all we need to carry on is in our camera pouch.