Photojournalism moves to a new venue

Photography, especially in its journalistic form has both changed the news medium and been changed by it. Specifically by the ever changing technology related to how news and information get delivered to the reader and viewer.

While more than 150 years old and used to document the human condition since its inception, the golden age of photo-journalism was born in WWII and blossoms in the post war years until TV takes its toll in the 1970’s on the great weekly magazines like LIFE which were a major venues for great photojournalism. 

To this day, the discussion of photography more often than not centers on changing technology. The changing hardware is one thing but changing technology, media business models and legal issues such as copyright in the digital age mean a continued loss of traditional business and display venues for photojournalists. The 70's and 80's saw the move by many seasoned photojournalists away from the news media with its limitations and into the corporate communications world and the art galleries where there was a new appreciation for the realistic and documentary aesthetic.  Online new media is the next evolution for photojournalism. It is seen in the better media websites with presentations that combine text, audio, video and still images combined to form a new medium. The technology also allows photojournalism to move beyond the constraints and limitations of its traditional home in the news media. World renowned photojournalist, James Natchwey, has taken the use of digital media as a photojournalism tool to a new level this month with the release of his new project. When James Nachtwey was awarded the TED Prize in 2007, he was given $100,000 and one wish to change the world. This was his wish:
 

“I'm working on a story that the world needs to know about. I wish for you to help me break it in a way that provides spectacular proof of the power of news photography in the digital age,” said Mr. Nacthwey.

 

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds.

 

James Nacthwey’s presentation  can be viewed at http://www.xdrtb.org/index.php

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous October 23, 2008 at 21:41 #

    Hey Greg,
    Did you ever have a chance to see the work by the guys who call themselves Bombay Flying Club? Here is the link:
    http://bombayfc.com/#home
    The piece on Romania is quite impressive.

  2. Anonymous October 23, 2008 at 11:47 #

    Interesting, I had not heard that. Well, one thing I've learned is that “photojournalists” can be pretty sanctimonious at times. As they grow older most get over that :^)
    The photography and sound thing does work well. Even on low budgets. I know a photographer in northern Aberta who has done some great work locally, on her own time and money, for paper she was working for that still didn't “get it” and dumped it from their website.
    In the end, as Nachtwey and others have come to realise, traditional photojournalism and documentary outlets are a/ disappearing or b/ still livng in a 1950's vison of the medium. If you want your work seen you need to seek out better ways.
    One of the reasons I got away from the newspaper and wire service business is the lack of imagination and flexibility that led to shooting the same frigging photo over and over. For me newspaper photography, with a few exceptions, is a never ending collection of cliche'.
    Having start out in documentary film I have “hope” for the lastest video technologies (you would be amazed how little it took to do the Marg videos) but, so far, have not seen it bring anything new to the still/audio presentation.
    Then again, there is Kens Burns who has made stunning “video” feature films out of still photos :^) …but that's Ken. He pioneered it.

  3. Anonymous October 23, 2008 at 01:45 #

    Nachtwey's photographs are quite something, eh. He took a fair bit of flak among PJs for employing a marketing gimmick to get the story out, but I don't really have a problem with it. It certainly worked for him.
    I am still not totally sold on video, but I think the combination of photography and sound is quite powerful. It will be interesting to see where the industry goes from here.