What is photojournalism? Photojournalism is using images to communicate the news. Since themid-nineteenth century, it has shaped the way millions of people see the world(Stewart 2017).
Will photojournalism bethe only credible source of images of world culture in years to come? (Newton,2013) Photojournalism is a term constructedby Frank Luther Mott; he was a Historian and Dean of the University of MissouriSchool of Journalism. (Collins 2018)One of the main differences between photojournalism and otherforms of photography is that the subject has no say in how the photographs areconstructed or used. (Towne, 2012)In the early stages of Photojournalism, War Photography andPhotojournalism had a strong link. Photojournalism only developed due to the improvementsin technology.
Early Photographs wereprinted using engravings. The Illustrated London News was the first publicationto make use of the technology available. (Stewart 2017). The American Civil war was one of the first wars to becaptured on camera. A man called Mathew Brady received permission fromPresident Lincoln to travel to the battle sites to photograph the brutality andhorror of war. Due to technological limitations, Brady could not photograph hissubjects in motion. (Stewart 2017).
The second half of the nineteenth century saw a shift offocus in photojournalism. Its main focus was no longer on War and DisasterPhotos. For example, a man named John Thomson along with journalist AdolpheSmith depicted the life of people on the streets of London. From 1876 to 1877,Street Life in London revolutionized the field as images were used instead ofwords as the dominant means of storytelling. (Stewart 2017). The invention of the Leica 35mm Camera has revolutionizedPhotojournalism.
This is known as the Golden Age of photojournalism. (Stewart2017). New inventions along withgreater public interest pushed photojournalism to new heights.
It occurredbetween the 1930’s and the 1960’s. There are many famous photographers duringthe Golden age such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks. Beforethis, a photograph of professional quality required bulky equipment but theinvention of the Leica camera meant photographers could capture photos anywhereat anytime. This meant that photographs were no longer staged or posed.(Brennen and Hardt, 1999) The new invention allowed photographers to captureevents as they really happened.
Photojournalism became more portable than ever.Photojournalism magazines were developed at the beginning ofthe nineteenth century. The life Magazine was one of the most famousphotojournalism magazines of its time. Henry Luce founded life magazine. Thepictorial life magazine was launched on November 23rd, 1936; Luce trulybelieved the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words”- Frederick R.
Barnard. He believed there was limited need for the use of words in Lifemagazine. (History as it Happened, 2007)The first cover of the magazine depicted the Fort Peck Damin Montanna by Margaret. Bourke.
White. The magazine made history as it was asit portrayed political problems and issues through the visual form ofphotographs. From 1936 to 1972 Life’s covers portrayed the largest news storiesof the 20th century (Rothman and Ronk, 2016). It depicted the horrors of World WarII and the assassination of President Kennedy. The most remarkable trait ofLIFE magazine is the fact that it covered the biggest news stories throughphotography alone. (Rothman and Ronk, 2016)Life had a small lifespan of thirty-seven years, however, itmade an extraordinary impact during this time.
(History as it Happened, 2007). Women became leading figures in the Golden age ofPhotojournalism. The first American female war reporter was called MargaretBourke-White. (Stewart 2017). Aspreviously mentioned she become the first photographer of the first ever LIFEcover. (Rothman and Ronk, 2016) Dorothea Lange is responsible for one of themost renowned photographs that documented The Great Depression. It is known as”Migrant Mother”. The photograph depicts a young “desperate” and “hungry”mother surrounded by her children.
The women look past the camera with worn andworried eyes. Lange photographed over160,000 thousand images for the Resettlement Administration but the “MigrantMother” stands alone as one of the most iconic photographs of it’s time.(Rothman and Ronk, 2016) Ironically major attention to photojournalism only took offin the late 1960’s and 1970’s when photography was beginning to fade as one ofthe major modes of mass media. Television began to rise in popularity andphotography began to fall.
Leading to the closure of major photojournalismmagazines such as LOOK in 1971 and LIFE in 1972. However, as television grew inpopularity critics began to discuss the impact of photojournalism. Examplesinclude Pierre Bourdieu’s early work on photography as a Middle-brow Art (1965)to John Berger’s series of books on pictorial communication. This is sometimesreferred to as a period of “High Modernism” for photography scholarship.Photojournalism began to move away from magazines and more towards artgalleries and museums (Brennen andHardt, 1999)Cartier-Bresson had a huge social impact on photojournalism.Bresson is famous for his phrase ” thedecisive moment” This is captured in one of his most famous photographsdepicting a man leaping a millisecond before his foot hits the puddle. Thisphoto was only achievable due to the invention of the Leica 35 mm camera.(Grayam, 2009) Photojournalism has changed over time due to technologicaland social impacts.
In the early stages of Photojournalism, the authenticity ofa photo could always be guaranteed. However today with Photoshop widelyavailable the authenticity of the photo cannot be guaranteed. For example, thewinner of World Press Photo competition in 2015 prize was revoked when thephotographer summited wrong captions of his work. The photographer cited wronglocations of his photos. (Kordic, 2015) Even the paparazzi’s pursuit ofPrincess Diana on the night of her death caused people to question the practiceof photojournalism.
In the 21st century, photojournalism faces new challenges.The book “The Burden of Visual Truth: The Role of Photojournalism in MediatingReality” By Julianne Newton ask a very important question ” Will image-makingtechnologies and public cynicism lead to its demise, or will journalists riseto the challenge by practicing a new, more credible form of visual journalism”(Newton, 2013) Photojournalism faces new threats from new technology andeven more troubling the decline of public belief in the visual truth. (Newton,2013) The line between truth and deception in this visual media has become veryblurry. Due to the ability ofphotojournalists to manipulate their photographers, it has become harder andharder to for the public to accept photographs as the truth.
(Newton, 2013)However, photojournalism is emerging once again as acompelling form of visual media. The true purpose of photojournalism is toreport human experiences in an honest and ethical way. (Newton, 2013) In today’s society to own a camera is in no way unique ordifferent. If a photographer wants to be noticed they must be extraordinary.
Our smartphones are an extension of our bodies turning us all into amateurphotographers documenting our daily lives. Photojournalist Benjamin Lowyembraced the use of his iPhone to capture photos. This innovating thinking wasrewarded with the cover of Time magazine in 2012. (Stewart, 2017) Today therole of the photographer has changed; they must capture what the average humaneye cannot see. Social media platforms have affected photojournalism in bothpositive and negative ways.
The averagesmartphone camera cannot match the quality of a professional camera, however,the one advantage social media users have over photojournalist is people power.In a matter of seconds, thousands of people can view and share an image.(Mastrini, 2015)One new source of journalism is Citizen journalism. In the technological age in which we livenearly everybody possesses a camera phone.
This means people can capture eventsthe moment they happen. For example, CNN uses amateur footage when breakingnews stories. However, Citizen photography can be criticised for its lack ofsubstance and quality. There is still a need for the photojournalist to capturenew stories. (Towne, 2012) Alfred Eisenstaedt a famous photojournalist took one of themost iconic photos of the 20th century. It is known as V-J Kiss in TimesSquare. New York City. It signified the joyous moment World War II had ended.
To conclude Photojournalism is about capturing true emotionsin a single photo. Due to the improvements in technology photojournalism hasthrived. Without the invention of theLeica, camera photographers would have never been able to get to the heart ofthe photograph.
The main purpose of photojournalism is to capture a singlemoment in time. (Masoner, 2017) The photojournalist is not the author, they areonly telling the story. Bibliography Ndsu.
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