Can you imagine reading a news article, perhaps some significant occurrence without any visual cues or images? How would someone feel when watching the news, hearing of some breaking news, with no visual content? It would be difficult to fully understand such content, more so absorbing or empathizing the importance of certain subject matter without such visual cues and references.
This is why photojournalism has become significant to many mediums, including the news. It has also become an important medium in conveying important subject matter in other places, such as magazines, marketing materials, even topics such as politics, religion, and science all utilize photojournalism.
These circumstances gave rise to the visual story-telling of a professional photojournalist and the need for photography as an ongoing medium in many industries and organizations. This has further become even more difficult than before, with almost every individual carrying smartphones, iPhones or Androids allowing them in essence to provide their own visual story.
However, even with the combined masses with their smartphone or iPhone cameras, will never be on par with to the artistry of an experienced photojournalist, along with their professional cameras and DSLRs.
Photojournalism is an art form in its own right. The images captured tells a story, it shares powerful emotions and brings a viewer into the image itself. Many newspapers, magazines, and media outlets have traditionally used photojournalism to compliment their content through provoking images.
But in the age of mass amateur photography, business economics and reverence for the art form, photojournalism is slowly dying. Though it can never fully go away, the art form does face many obstacles.
A Point in Time
Recently, the front page images of two leading newspapers in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, were both covering the Chicago Cubs throughout their post-season playoffs, eventually to the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series – something that many fans have waiting for, after a long 108 years.
The morning after the Cubs officially won the World Series, both newspapers, as well as many other media outlets, raced to headline the story. The Trib, and the Sun-Times, the hometown newspapers looked to celebrate their hometown heroes with a front page story. But the two papers sparked discussions among many readers, especially photojournalists.
Back in 2013, Sun-Times laid off their photojournalists, then instructed their reporters instead to take up iPhone photography / Android / Smartphone photography – something that their reporters would have anyways. Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune still maintained its own team of professional photojournalists and photographers.
This leads to the morning of in question, two hometown newspapers, covering the same event with two completely different outcomes. The Sun-Times without their photojournalists led to its front page image failing to make much impact versus its Tribune counterpart. Many people looking to pick up a collectible newspaper that morning were faced with Tribune newspapers selling out faster in many places around the city and sold out first from many of the places Viable Studios staff went to.
The front cover image of the Tribune, was iconic to say the lease. Taken by Brian Cassella, a photographer with the Chicago Tribune, this image was significantly more popular than its Sun-Times counterpart. Not to say that the Sun times image was not a great image itself, but for such an epic and historic event, it failed to capture the raw emotions and energy that is seen in Cassella’s photo.
When the presidential campaign was over – many individuals woke up to the news, followed by groundbreaking photography and photojournalism. These photos captured the raw emotions from throughout the campaign, election day and evening, and the next morning.
This is why the White House employs a Chief Official White House photographer. They tell the story of the President and the President’s family throughout their four years. Sometimes, we even glimpse just how human and strained they are with the responsibilities of the Office, something that almost no one without formal training can really capture.
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