About a Photojournalism

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The arrival of photojournalism created many new opportunities for photographers since these individuals were now able to travel virtually anywhere to document objects and social events. This new medium emerged in the mid 19th century [1] because of the advancement of technologies. Photographer was now able to carry and have camera equipment faster. Photojournalism opened a new field with a significant benefit: its ability to push for social change by illustrating the problems associated with society. The Illustrated London News appeared first on Saturday 14 May 1842, as the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine. [2] Founded by Herbert Ingram, it appeared weekly until 1971.

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Essentially, photojournalism was the first medium to convey social issues to massed audiences using news magazines. At first, many of these magazines focused on the oppression war created. The beauty of this communique medium is the discussion that is ensured by the photographer on issues. It also identifies the impact photojournalism has had on advertising and promotion, especially focusing on celebrities and the fashion industry, in addition to utilizing such manipulations as color and digital imaging. [3] In fact, that medium created the aspect of advertising and promotion seeing as before, there was no way for companies to show their selling product to customers. This type of photography was useful in showcasing products and items in magazines as an effort to entice buyers. For example, many new makeup lines would use photojournalism to endorse their brand.

The main component of photojournalism is the combination of text and photo to create a meaning different from journalism and photography alone. The reader often gets more drawn to photography if there is a little except that tells them the background story of the said picture. The photographer’s ability to use colors and other aspects also reinforces the connection for example of a vibrant red color in relation to a makeup line advertisement. Photojournalism is evidently the best way to convey a message to the public, especially in our day and age.

The different aspect of photojournalism

Documentary photography also had a shocking effect on the fashion industry and the photographing of celebrities. The commercialization of new subjects provided huge opportunities for individuals who were trying to break out into the field of photography. [4] Photographers were able to hold true to their old aesthetic quality while enjoying the freedom of being more creative. These photographs were also highly visible because almost any magazine would cover them depicting the beauty and artistry concerning a certain piece of clothing.

In addition, this medium also depicted celebrities such as famous actors and actresses of the moment. This allowed people to read about their favorite celebrities and finally enjoy photos of these individuals thus creating this need of knowing the private life of the one you would aspire and look up to. This was also the beginning of gossiping magazines that would become so popular in our day in age. It also allowed agencies to promote celebrities for them to achieve higher statuses. In other words, photojournalism ultimately created a way for photographs such as these to have an impact on the attitudes of individuals looking at these pictures. Before this time, these photographs would have not even been considered as an art form. However, through the popularity of photojournalism, these photographs have had the chance to show that they document society.

The latest development of documentary photography is the innovation of digital photography. By the end of the 1980s, digital imaging has emerged as a transformative technology, welcomed in the fields of product advertising, cinema, journalism. The ability to manipulate images using computers enabled photographers to explore their creativity. [5] It allows photographers freedom to modify their pictures to look more visually appealing, thus more enticing to the potential buyer. Digital imaging also supported other techniques such as montage.

Influential photojournalist

W. Eugene Smith [6] was one of the most influential photographers during his period but also the pioneer of photojournalism. His photograph entitled Marines Under Fire depicted the reality of war but also touch based on how this environment affected its soldiers. In many of his photos, he depicted the men and their guns looking in a different direction to introduce a sense of confusion and to offer a new approach to its audience when presenting their harsh reality. Smith was able to portray a strong sense of sympathy through his social documentation of war because of its modern medium. In addition to war reportage, W. Eugene Smith also experimented with a new technique related to photo documentary called the photographic essay [7]. Since magazines now had the capacity to show pictures, many of them now include an essay portion to explain the photo. It had for main purpose to tell a story to the readers, and it would be accompanied with the photos. One of Smith most memorable works is entitled Spanish Village. This paper documents the lives of a poor and troubled Spanish community, who still hold a strong sense of faith. Through many technical details related to photography like sharp tonal contrast and dramatic detail, Smith was able to show the struggles of these people in a humanistic way. This element can be seen in most journalistic photos because it is the main goal of a war/documentary photographer.

Dorothea Lange [8] was another important photojournalist. Throughout the Great Depression, Lange photographed the unemployed men who wandered the streets. Her main subject matter related to the effect the Great Depression had on the people, who now suffered for immense poverty. Her photographs of migrant workers were often offered captions including the words of the workers themselves, thus making it documented. Yet, Lange’s first real taste of documentary photography came in the 1920s when she traveled the Southwest with her husband, mostly photographing Native Americans. She mostly took the picture and he wrote the essay regarding what she had photographed. As a result of the Great Depression in the 1930s, her most renowned portrait, Migrant Mother, [9] an iconic image from this period that beautifully captured the hardship and pain of what so many Americans were experiencing.

Mathew Brady [10] was a photographer and is best known for his work during the Civil War, including the iconic photo of Abraham Lincoln found on the American $5 bill. He photographed many famous people of his day including presidents and generals. He hired a staff of photographers to document the American Civil War. Brady nicknamed the father of photojournalism died in a charity ward in 1896.
James Nachtwey [11] is an American photographer born on March 14, 1948, in Syracuse, New York. Influenced by images of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, Nachtwey started a career in photography in 1976. Acknowledged for his work on documenting wars and other social conflicts, he worked for Time magazine in the 1980s. In 2001, the documentary War Photographer was released, focusing on Nachtwey and his work. ‘This medium allows for authentic emotions, kind of like theatre but with no script and everyone’s on the stage. Being the photography behind this is extremely important because the way you cover or tell a story defines how the world sees it.” (Nachtwey, James) [12]

The impact had on society and its consequence

With the arrival of the Internet, videophones and digital photography, photojournalism has become more popular than ever. It is important for the people to remember the importance of the many past events like the Great Depression or consider how life changed for the world since the terrorist attack of 9/11. Photojournalism holds an important place in documenting these events with the combining of photo and essay. In our modern day, it is almost unimaginable for us to read a newspaper, whether it be online or in physical form, without images. The same way it would be to watch the news on tv without a video. Photography’s can really make or break any media product. However, these images must be relevant to social events in our society in order to be effective and move its audience. In addition, the pictures must be accurate and inform the viewer in order to convey what is happening during a particular moment in time. In our generation, we rely on this documentary photography to have the same purpose as it did years before, to shoot compelling photos that enhance any news stories on its own. The intention of the images is to physically summaries what has been written. By doing so, the reader becomes more enticed and involved with the news presented in real-life situations. That understanding of what one is going through is the reaction the photojournalist wants its viewer to feel. The image combined with text is also useful efficient for the ones who don’t have the time or are usually uninterested in newspapers since images speak louder and faster than words.

Photojournalism in the age of social media

Now, with the height of social media, images come to us through Twitter and Facebook, captured through mobile phones. The powerful and heartbreaking imageries of the world’s crises are brought directly to our laptops and smartphones from all around the globe. Since then, even the least tech-savvy people around the world have become bystanders to history. Now, the challenge for photojournalists, in regard to new media, is to get the story right.

The practical benefits of new media to photojournalists in crisis zones are the immense but unprocessed digital knowledge. For photojournalists, whether it be amateur or professional, the information made available to the public through social networks, are not always reliable or true.

“With regards to Twitter, it’s a very useful tool in order to point journalistic organizations towards potential leads and potential developments in stories,” (Lyon, Santiago, director of photography for the Associated Press.) [13]

Verification can often be problematic, and the proper context and attribution are often lost in the social media space. Even determining the original owner of a photograph becomes problematic. “It’s very complicated because what happens on the social media becomes something of an echo chamber,” said Lyon. “People scrape stuff off each others’ accounts, or a contextual claim is far from good or solid.” [14] Although verification can be a technical and often legal obstacle for photojournalists using social media as a news collection means, the question of ethical and visual problematics needs to be acknowledged. The abrupt flood of raw images from areas damaged by political conflict or natural disasters is what causes information to be shared by citizens journalists on the ground. Often news organizations with limited budgets inclined and rely upon them to spread awareness, but these people do not essentially know how to constitute a narrative storytelling valuable of a photojournalism.

Citizen journalist is also encouraged by news agencies. They are often content with random snapshots and they don’t essentially need professional and thoughtful content. This is definitely an issue because the general public often takes images as truth much more than they do with words. However, regardless of social media’s disadvantage, the progressive problem of verification and immediate photographs, new media technology affords professional journalists and news organizations the right tools to engage in the type of storytelling that makes for valuable photojournalism. Social media isn’t integrally bad, it simply needs to be used in an appropriate manner to truthfully tell a story.

The real test for working photojournalists is to reconcile the technical realities of the new media landscape with the aesthetic and ethical requirements of practicing journalism. “Never has there been a time when you needed a professional class of journalists more than right now,” Naughton said. “There’s a real resurgence in formal and aesthetic qualities in contemporary journalism, the idea of aesthetics and photographers as storytellers, not just people who are able to break the news.

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About A Photojournalism. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from

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