After reading the August 1 post “For God’s sake somebody call it” on EPUK (Editorial Photographers UK), I decided I would chime in on the whole death of photojournalism.
OK, I will concede that print media has given way to digital media and this has greatly changed the way that things look. Print journals and magazines no longer have the draw that they used to, mostly because you can go online and read the same piece of media for free or a greatly discounted price, but why do we say that it is dead? Can we not just say that the face of journalism and photojournalism has changed? Why dead?
Death has such a negative connotation to it, it makes me think of cemeteries and funerals. If journalism is in some cemetery somewhere then I believe that we have missed something big. Media will never die, in fact the trend is going in the opposite direction, it is growing daily. No, it doesn’t look like it did 50 years ago, but neither does society.
No one would look around and says well we don’t look like we used to so society must be dead, rather it is noted that society has changed. The tastes of culture have changed, and therefore the delivery of journalism to that culture has morphed into what fits the needs of the recipients.
My first thought when I hear the statement that photojournalism is dead is to question, are there no more pictures to be taken, or stories to be told? Have we covered everything? Are there so many people with cameras now that we no longer need some who can take quality pictures and use them to tell a story?
As long as people and societies exist, there will be photojournalists who capture and document their daily lives and activities, using their craft and vision to tell compelling stories through media outlets that connect with millions of viewers across the world.
I will concede on one other point and that is that the mass population of the world with cameras has created some challenges for photojournalism as a trade, but by no means has it destroyed it. Yes it creates competition, and yes sometimes someone will choose to go with a cheaper less qualified photographer therefore hurting the market, but I will give it no more power than to simply hurt.
The reality is that those of us who work hard at our craft and chase our vision, wrestling it to the ground, only to have it escape again, is that we must be ever adapting to the changes in media and journalism if we are to remain relevant.
The only way or reason that photojournalism is dead is that photographers and journalist have chosen to ignore the changes around them and dug in their heels to hold onto things as they have been. Allow it to change, change with it and see where it will take you.
Who knows, you might even like it there.
(photos in this post were shot on a medium format twin reflex Lubitel camera during the May 9 festivities in Moscow, Russia 2009)