“If eyes are the windows of the soul, then photojournalism is the window on the
most momentous events of our time”, wrote Richard Stengel, Managing Editor
Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and
presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images in
order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still
images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast
journalism. Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches
of photography (e.g., documentary photography, social documentary
photography, street photography or celebrity photography) by complying with a
rigid ethical framework which demands that the work is both honest and
impartial whilst telling the story in strictly journalistic terms. Photojournalists
create pictures that contribute to the news media.
The practice of illustrating news stories with photographs was made possible by
printing and photography innovations that occurred in the mid 19th century.
Although early illustrations had appeared in newspapers, such as an illustration
of the funeral of Lord Horatio Nelson in The Times (1806), the first weekly
illustrated newspaper was the Illustrated London News, first printed in 1842.The
illustrations were printed with the use of engravings.
During the Crimean War, the ILN pioneered the birth of early photojournalism
by printing pictures of the war that had been taken by Roger Fenton. Fenton was
the first official war photographer and his work documenting the effects of the
war on the troops, laid the groundwork for modern photojournalism.
photographers of the war included William Simpson and Carol Szathmari.
Similarly, the American Civil War photographs of Mathew Brady were
engraved before publication in Harper's Weekly.
Elements of Photojournalism
Timeliness : The images have meaning in the context of a recently published
record of events
Objectivity : The situation implied by the images is a fair and accurate
representation of the events they depict in both content and tone.
Narrative : The images combine with other news elements to make facts
relatable to the viewer or reader on a cultural level.
Types of Photojournalism
FEATURE PHOTOJOURNALISM : It includes human interests ranging from
arts and entertainment, business, science and technology.
SPORTS PHOTOJOURNALISM : It covers sports through losses and wins. A
sport photojournalist attends games, practices and events.
ENVIRONMENTAL PHOTOJOURNALISM : It captures the essence of the
subject. It captures a newsworthy figure, in their natural setting. It explains who
the subject of the photo is though meaning and emotion.
A journalist tells stories. A photographer takes pictures of nouns (people, places
and things). A photojournalist takes the best of both and locks it into the most
powerful medium available.
Photojournalists capture "verbs." They hunt them, shoot them and show them to
their readers. Then, they hunt more. Main task of a photojournalist is to give the
viewer an image that is truthful and speaks for itself.
The "Golden Age of Photojournalism" is often considered to be roughly the
1930s through the 1950s.
It was made possible by the development of the
commercial 35mmLeica camera in 1925, and the first flash bulbs between 1927
and 1930 that allowed the journalist true flexibility in taking pictures.
The Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung pioneered modern photojournalism and was
widely copied. Beginning in 1901, it began to print photographs inside the
magazine, a revolutionary innovation. It pioneered the photo-essay, had a
specialised staff and production unit for pictures and maintained a photo
library. It also introduced the use of candid photographs taken with the new
The magazine sought out reporters who could tell a story using photographs,
notably the pioneer sports photographer Martin Munkácsi, the first staff
photographer, and Erich Salomon, one of the founders of photojournalism.
Other magazines included, Arbeiter-Illustrierte-
Zeitung (Berlin), Vu (France), Life (USA), Look (USA), Picture Post (London));
and newspapers, The Daily Mirror (London) and The New York Daily News.
Famous photographers of the era included Robert Capa, Romano
Cagnoni, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White and W. Eugene Smith.
Henri Cartier-Bresson is held by some to be the father of modern
photojournalism, although this appellation has been applied to various other
photographers, such as Erich Salomon, whose candid pictures of political
figures were novel in the 1930s.
Behind the Gare St. Lazare” by Henri Cartier-Bresson has been called as the
greatest photograph of the 20th century. His most famous photograph is that of
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru announcing the death of Gandhiji. His book called
‘Henri Cartier Bresson in India’ is very well known.
Photojournalism in India
Photography was first introduced to India in 1840, only a year after the
announcements of the daguerreotype and calotype processes in France and
Initially, commercial studios were established in cities such as Calcutta, where
an ever-increasing clientele could be relied upon to keep up a demand for
portraits. Some amateurs also brought cameras to India, wrote Sophie Gordon.
As India was being ruled by the British, British photographers started taking
pictures of the country, its scenery and monuments.
When the first war of Independence happened in 1857, it was one of the first
incidents of war photography in the world.
Many political developments were also taking place in India especially around
the freedom movement. Photojournalists had no dearth of subjects to take news
photographs. Like in the west, development of newspapers led to the growth of
photojournalism in India. Readers of newspapers and periodicals wanted to see
incidents. Photographs provided them that opportunity. Gradually
photojournalism took root in Indian media.
Raja Deen Dayal was one of the first notable Indian photojournalists. He was a
court photographer in India during the rule of the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad. As
he was the only ‘native’ photographer, he has left behind a very impressive
record of British India.
Among the famous photojournalists who worked then was Sunil Janah. A
political activist and journalist, Sunil Janah began to photograph while writing
assignments for his newspaper. At the time of India’s independence, Janah
photographed the significant events in the country and made a record of the
transition from British rule to independent India. His photographs of India’s
partition, its people; specially the tribal people as well as pictures of industries
and temple structures are very famous.
Kulwant Roy shot a series of rare images documenting the tumultuous years
immediately before and after independence. He chronicled events like the
cabinet mission, which proposed various formulas for independence to Indian
leaders. He had close access to Nehru, which allowed him to take intimate
photographs of him with various leaders and his daughter Indira Gandhi.
In a profession dominated by men, she was the first woman photojournalist.
She is Homai Vyarawalla. Her work was first published in 1938 in the Bombay
Chronicle, and later in other major publications of those times. She also worked
for the Illustrated Weekly of India and during World War II covered every
aspect of wartime activities in India. Her documentation of the events of the
freedom movement is significant.
Among the great photojournalists of India mention must be made of T.S.
Satyam (1923-2009). Amongst the photojournalists after Independence, the
name of Raghu Rai is most famous. Prashant Panjiar is another successful
photojournalist of thepresent times. Born in Kolkata, he is a self taught
photographer who has worked for several magazines in Delhi. Among the
younger photojournalists mention must be made of Srinagar based Altaf Qadri
whose extensive coverage of the conflict in Kashmir has been published in
several publications worldwide.
News Photography in Orissa
Photographs have been published in newspapers of Orissa for long. Before
offset printing came to Orissa in mid-eighties, printing photographs used to be a
tedious job. Half tone metal blocks used to be made. Even then the quality of
printing was not good. Except Samaja and Prajatantra hardly any newspapers
had staff photographers before 80s. Hrudaynath Das worked as the staff
photographer of Samaja in 50s. He then set up ‘Das and Das Photo Studio’.
Umaprasad Mishra also worked as a staff photographer of Samaja. News
photography in Orissa came of age after the introduction of offset printing in
mid-eighties. Several mainstream newspapers appointed staff photographers.
Fortunately for Orissa, there have been journalists who were also good
photographers. They took news photography to a new level. Among them were
Srimoy Kar, who started his journalistic career as a reporter-photographer of
Sun Times, Bhubaneswar in 1984 and went on to become the resident editor of
The New Indian Express; and Sampad Mahapatra, who was for some time the
editor of Sambad, and presently working as the Orissa correspondent of NDTV.
Among the contemporary photojournalists of Orissa mention must be made of
Anil Mishra, who started Eastern Press Agency. It is the only photo agency in
Orissa with its headquarters in Bhubaneswar.
Ashok Panda, who presently works for Samaya (1996-onwards) and an Orissa
news-centric website orissamatters.com worked in the past as a professional
press photographer for Eastern Press Agency (1984-1995), and The Asian Age
Asok Chakravorty, who presently works for The Hindu in Bhubaneswar and
Shivaji Moulik also made their names as good photojournalists.
Ethics Of Photojournalism
Merriam-Webster defines “ethics” as, “the code of good conduct for an
individual or group,” and lists synonyms as, “morality, morals, principles, [and]
standards. In terms of ethics in photojournalism, the National Press
Photographers Association's Code of Ethics reads, in part:
Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or
seek to alter or influence events.
Do not accept gifts, favours, or compensation from those who might seek
to influence coverage.
Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content
and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way
that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording
subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work
to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
All manipulation of photographs is a violation of basic journalistic ethics.
For the photojournalist must capture the truth. This means that the
photojournalist must only photograph what has happened, when it happened
and not invent a situation or recreate one by moving things around in the
picture to make it seem more interesting than it really was.
The profession of photojournalism as it is known today could change to such a
degree that it is unrecognizable as image capturing technology naturally
progresses. Citizen journalism and the increase in user contribution and
submission of amateur photos to news sites are becoming more widespread.
Paul Levinson attributes this shift to the Kodak camera, one of the first cheap
and accessible photo technologies that “put a piece of visual reality into every
person’s potential grasp”. The empowered news audience with the advent of the
Internet sparked the creation of blogs, podcasts and online news, independent of
the traditional outlets, and “for the first time in our history, the news
increasingly is produced by companies outside journalism”8 With image
capturing and transmitting devices becoming cheaper and more user friendly,
the trend only can increase. That puts tremendous pressure on the professional
photo journalists. They find their domain being invaded by outsiders; and more
important for them – their jobs being taken away. However, there is another
angle to it. It puts the professional photojournalists in a situation, where they
have to improve their craft and skill to survive. It augurs well for the art of
photo journalism, which is set to scale greater heights.