Sipa: Survivors of the golden age
Génération Sipa : Jean-Marie Goyhenex, Peter Stumpf , Coskun Aral, Mete Zihnioglu, Alfred Yaghobzadeh, Luc Delahaye, J. Gabriel Barthélemy, Jacques Witt (Derrière Goksin Sipahioglu), Ilhami Uncuoglu, Pascal Alix, (derrière), Ettore Malanca, Pascal Lesegretain, Pierre Villard, François Lehr.
Eighty photojournalists in a beautiful tribute ,reflect on the great adventure that was the photo agency Sipa, founded by Göksin Sipahioglu, its legendary director, who passed away in October 2011.
« For those who aren’t familiar with the world of press, the name Sipahioglu won’t mean much. He was a man who left a profound mark on a generation of journalists and photographers across the world, and Sipa, was the agency he founded and gave his name to.»
On October 5, 2011, I learned that the Great Turk was dead. It was a shock for me and everyone in our profession. We thought he was immortal. Born in Izmir in 1926, he founded his own newspaper before setting off in search of scoops, where he worked wonders his whole life.
In 1969, he left the Gamma agency and founded Sipa Press in 1973. It quickly caught up with Gamma and Sygma on the international press market. The competition was fierce.
In the work, Hubert Henrotte says: “Göksin became a fearful competitor, especially when it came to speed. With his help, a lot of time we got the scoop. Newspapers bought the first images they received—sometimes the second, if they were better—nothing stopped him when it came to getting there first. Relations were tense between Gamma, Sygma and Sipa. It was a constant, merciless struggle.”
The consequences of this competition were disastrous for photographers. By not respecting social rights, the three agencies wiped the floor of independent photographers and smaller agencies. And this was before the journalism crisis.
Sipa sent hordes of young adventurers in search of the holy grail—the scoop—and always had an exclusive for Paris Match, Time, Stern or Newsweek.
During a moving tribute given by the press at the Théâtre de l’Odéon, Patrick Chauvel perfectly summed up what photographers thought of Göksin Sipahioglu: “I’ve never owed so much to someone who paid me so little.”
Michel Setboun, one of his spiritual sons, had the idea for a book: From 1973 to 2011, 80 photographers reflect on the life of the agency and the events they covered. With Sylvie Dauvillier, he published 40 ans de photojournalisme, génération Sipa (Éditions La Martinière). The book is filled with memories and searching interviews.
Guillaume Clavière, the current head of photography at Paris Match, emphasizes how the business has changed: “It’s a lot harder for photographers these days. Recently Pascale Maître, an excellent photographer, proposed a series on life in Mogadishu, Somalia, after the departure of the Shebab Islamists. He took the risk and went on his own dime. When he got back I used his work, but for every case like this there are ten others I have to refuse. We used to accept four or five times that number.”
Jim Colton, the picture editor at Newsweek, has also noticed the change: “The proliferation and availability of images that came with the digital revolution killed the market. These days, everyone with an iPhone is a photographer.”
The Golden Age has passed. A new generation of photographers just as talented and daring has arrived. Go, friends, the old world is behind you!
40 ans de photojournalisme - Génération Sipa
Michel Setboun and Sylvie Dauvillier
Layout: Grégory Bricout
© 2012, Éditions de La Martinière
239 pages – 39 euros