Photojournalism is anarea of photographydedicated to takingaccurate shots of currentevents. The basicmission of aphotojournalist is to takepictures to accompany anews story (whether it isbroadcast or publishedin a newspaper).
However, truly greatphotojournalismpictures should tell thestory BEFORE the textor broadcaster does.
“It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.”- Paul Strand (American Photographer, 1890-1976) Photo taken by ZORIAH photojournalist
Photojournalism pictures attempt to capture theviewer’s attention and emotion to entice him tocontinue listening to or reading about the story.
Think of newspaper covers withlarge, dramatic shots of the latest currentevent: these pictures reflect the articles’titles while adding a dynamic edge tostory by visually communicating thepathos of the event.
A key aspect of photojournalism isto present accurate pictures that don’t compromise the integrity of the actual situation.
Consequently, alteringpictures with computersoftware is consideredtaboo among seriousphotojournalists andnews organizations.
This code of ethics is one of the centralfeatures of photojournalism thatdistinguishes it from other areas ofphotography.
Careers in photojournalism can be destroyedby even a hint of photo manipulation. For thisreason, many photojournalists prefer to usetraditional film rather than digital cameras.
Although digital cameras allowphotojournalists to review photosimmediately in the field, digital imagesare easier to manipulate than filmnegatives.
Manipulating images canseriously damage apublication’s reputation, ashappened in 1994 when ex-football player OJ Simpsonwas arrested on suspicionof murder.
Both Newsweek and TimeMagazine ran cover pages appearingto feature Simpson’s mugshot. Time, however, ran a photo-illustration based on the mug shot.While the magazine noted the imagewas a photo-illustration inside, acasual observer of the magazinecover would not be aware of this.
The issue caused a scandal, includingaccusations that Time was pursuing a racistagenda and presupposing Simpson’s guilt. Therespected magazine’s reputation was badlydamaged by the fiasco, highlighting the needfor image integrity in photojournalism.
Timeliness — the images have meaning in thecontext of a recently published record ofevents.
Objectivity — the situation implied bythe images is a fair and accuraterepresentation of the events they depict inboth content and tone.
Narrative — the images combine with othernews elements to make facts relatable to theviewer or reader on a cultural level.
Photojournalism is primarily a practical formof photography, especially given theimportance of maintaining the integrity of thescene. However, the field of photojournalismmay also be considered to be an art form in itsown right. Scene composition, choices of anglesand lens choices all determine the impact andpower of the resulting shots.
In recent years, more and more art galleries havedisplayed pieces of photojournalism, lending it morerespect as an art form.
Working within theboundaries ofphotojournalism ethicsand still producing artcan be compared towriting haiku poetry: partof the beauty or impactcomes from how thephotographer (or poet)works within the genre’srestrictions.
The definition of photojournalism as art does raise some problems for the standing ethics of photojournalism. While image manipulation is taboo forphotojournalists, do es this restriction apply to photojournalism used as art.
If photojournalism images aremanipulated in the name of art, people maybe less willing to trust the images they seein newspapers and magazines.
Odd though it may sound, comic books haveinspired more people to consider careers inphotojournalism. Jimmy Olsen (Supermancreator) and Peter Parker (Spiderman inventor)hearken back to the days when a camera and agood eye for detail were all that were essentialfor careers in photojournalism. (By theby, Peter’s tendency set up his camera to takepictures of himself as Spiderman go against thedeepest ethics of photojournalism. Forshame, Spidey, for shame!)
Today, courses or degrees in photojournalismor professional photography are oftenrequirements for careers in this field. While thisdoesn’t mean that a talented amateurphotographer can’t break into the field, editorsare more likely to consider hiring someonewith formal training. Courses inphotojournalism are available at some collegesand most photography schools.
The best photojournalistic pictures inspirethe emotion of the scene within the viewer.Some of the more recent examples ofphotojournalism have been the devastationof Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans andthe Iraqi War.
Good examples of photojournalism engageviewers and make them want to read theaccompanying story. Perhaps the most powerfulexamples of photojournalism in recent memorywere the images taken of the destruction of theWorld Trade Center in New York on September11, 2001.
Images of the hijacked planes slamming intothe towers shocked people worldwide. Formany, these images continue to linger in andhaunt the memory long after the words in thenews articles have been forgotten. Suchexamples of photojournalism convey the powerand responsibilities of the professionalphotojournalist.