Photojournalism Facts

Get the facts on photojournalism.

As new forms of digital media and online publishing continue to emerge, more and more photographers and writers are becoming interested in learning some basic photojournalism facts.

Evolution of Photojournalism

In the past, photojournalism was a highly specialized field that required proficiency not only in photography, but also in journalism. While the two disciplines are still inextricably linked, recent innovations in technology have made it possible for a new, amateur, do-it-yourself brand of self-published photojournalism to emerge. No longer does an aspiring photojournalist need to have connections at a major newspaper or magazine to publish his or her work. Today, almost anyone can set up his or her own website and publish at will. That being said, more traditional forms of photojournalism are still around, although the competition to land jobs in the industry is very intense. The article will provide the essential photojournalism facts for anyone interested in exploring this interesting field.

Essential Photojournalism Facts

Check out the following list of photojournalism facts:

  1. Photojournalism is actually considered a form of journalism that utilizes pictures and not a form of photography that is accompanied by journalistic writing. This is significant fact because it distinguishes photojournalism from other types of photography in that the focus is more on the news story as opposed to the images. The images are there in the service of the news story, not the other way around.
  2. A work of photojournalism must be timely and relevant to contemporary news stories. Again, the point in this line of work is to deliver a news story, and the news story has to still be hot news for the story to remain relevant. This puts added pressure on the photography side of photojournalism, as photographers must take and edit their photos in a timely fashion so they can publish them while the story is still fresh.
  3. Although today's cable news channels might not seem to follow this rule, journalism's most sacred edict is its objectivity. A photojournalist acts as a reporter, and therefore his or her primary job is to make every effort to convey the story being told in the most objective manner possible.
  4. Photojournalism has been an important part of journalism since the late 1880s. While photographers documented noteworthy news stories from as far back as the early 1800s, it took advances in the printing industry to make it feasible for photos to easily appear in print.
  5. Carol Szathmari, a Rumanian artist, is considered to be the first photojournalist. His work documented the Crimean War in pictures.
  6. Continual advances in camera technology in the early 1900s eventually lead to 35mm cameras that were small enough to be carried easily into any kind of environment. These new tools led to what is considered the "Golden Age of Photojournalism" from the 1930s to the 1950s. During this heyday, magazines around the world, such as Life and Sports Illustrated in the United States, Paris Match in France, and Picture Post in England, regularly published works of powerful photojournalism.
  7. The Farm Security Administration, or FSA, was one of the main programs of the New Deal. The program hired photographers to take photos around the country that were initially intended to be used as promotional material for the program. However, the images have gone on to represent much, much more to the history of photojournalism. It should be noted, though, that some contend that many of the images were staged, thus calling into the question the objectivity of the work of many FSA photographers.
  8. The biggest professional organization for photojournalists in the United States is the National Press Photographers Association, or NPPA, which currently has around 10,000 members.
  9. A new branch of photojournalism has recently developed called citizen journalism. Camera phones, videophones, digital cameras, and the Internet have created an almost infinite number of opportunities for regular citizens to create works of timely photojournalism. In fact, many recent historical events have been photographed by citizens who where right there when the action took place. Some of these images have even made their way to mainstream media outlets.

A Time of Change

Most people would agree that photojournalism is in a period of great change and evolution. Life magazine is no longer around, and much of the romantic notions that accompanied the Golden Age of photojournalism have gone with it, but the field still remains vital and even more apt to be timely and relevant with the exponential technological advances that are occurring every day. In a few years, photojournalism might be unrecognizable compared to what it is today, but seeds of the discipline will surely remain.

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