Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Newsphotographer or Photojournalist: Is there a difference?

Thinking back to how I once viewed the power of visual images. It was the Sixties and "new journalism" was the fad. Long stories in Esquire, Rolling Stone, New Yorker Magazine, etc., thought it was something Tom Wolf called "New Journalism." When writers told what the subject was wearing, color of their socks, what they were doing, how they were sitting, etc. etc. 
News Photo

Wouldn't it be easier to simply show it? I thought this was photojournalism. Words nd pictures working together to show what was happening. 

Stumbled upon reference to Newsday's Director of Photography, Harvey Weber, viewing journalism as showing the beginning, middle and end. The newspaper photographer showing up and simply captured a moment. Didn't tell the whole story.

But with words and photos work together to tell the story. What is photojournalism? I see it as a part, you can't tell the whole story with just words or just with photos. You need to combine both.

For many this is still strange. They only see photos as decoration to the word story. Rather than imagine, see it. Look at a picture and have the words fill in the gaps. Tell about what happened before and who the people are in the photo. This means the photo editor needs to pick a photo that fits with the story, not the most beautiful photo or most eye-catching shot.

Speaking at a Photo Expo in New York with John Durniak I thought photojournalism was dead as color photography made the photo simply a tool to attract readers to read the story. In black and white you could study the face of the people, see where they were, freeze the moment. Not distracted by COLOR

With color, photos were decoration. Posed with fill-in flash so the blue sky was darker. Editors didn't mind, they saw it as a way to pull readers into reading the story. Not telling the story. 

I could say the newsphotographer was someone who covered events:Auto accidents, fires, press conference, demonstrations, events, but the photojournalist was someone getting a photo of people doing things. One photo or several photos that tied in with the words to tell the whole story. 

''John Durniak was one of the first to realize the potential of the 35-millimeter camera,'' said Carl Mydans, one of the first photographers hired by Life, who later worked for Time, ''and he affected most of us who were photojournalists in how we looked upon reporting with a camera. We were storytellers with a camera, and that was his continual direction to us: 'Don't forget what you are. You are reporters, telling stories in pictures.' '