How Our World Is Influenced By Photojournalism?

The question should be how the world has influenced photojournalism. Once photojournalism was the domain of the select few, the Magnum clique, at least this is how it seemed. But the world is changing in ways no one could have imagined.

A prime example is current events. These are generally covered by reporters and photographers that need to capture an image that sums up what is going on. The problem is they may not always be at the right place, so today news agencies and networks rely as much on fuzzy images from people’s mobile phones to let the world know what’s going on as they do by relying on their photographers on the ground.  In a sense everyone with a mobile phone or a cheap camera can capture the essence of the moment simply by being in the right place at the right time. 20 years ago that would have meant everyone carrying a camera, impossible, but today, virtually everyone carries a camera by default.

One of the greatest pictures ever taken is the one by Robert Capa of the D-Day landings. It is grainy, out of focus, but encapsulates the moment, it seems with our out of focused phone cameras we are reverting back to the Capa years, when the importance was on the image and what it was saying more than the quality of that image. I wonder how long it will be before people begin to realise that their images may be worth something. After all if the news networks haven’t got any images they haven’t really got a story.

What is Photojournalism?

Photojournalism is a field of journalism using photographs to tell a story which could be a moment of historical change such as what happened in Egypt in 2011 to a story happening in a local town anywhere in the world.

As a writer has to know their subject before putting pen to paper,  a good photographer must know their subject too. It is not good enough to snap away at a group of people who perhaps are demonstrating without knowing why they are demonstrating. If you do not understand their motivation, passion as well as knowing what the other side is thinking, how can you take an accurate record of that event; how can the pictures have any context or meaning.

Robert Capa is perhaps the most famous  photojournalists, the father of photojournalism and a founding  member of Magnum Photos. What made his work so captivating was his ability to almost get inside his subjects, to feel what they felt and portray that in his photographs. He once said that “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”. He was right, you have to get close to get the truth, long lenses are not the answer!