Andre Cantelmo Photography | Thoughts on Photojournalism

Thoughts on Photojournalism

February 09, 2014  •  1 Comment

In the November 2013 issue of Popular Science, I learned that the Chicago Sun Times is in the process of laying off all of its staff Photographers. The paper plans to use news wires, freelancers, and photographs taken with cell phones as source material. This has me thinking just how they would go about making this work. They would need a collection point somewhere in their office, as well as a method to edit incoming data. In addition, a filtering system is needed to check the validity of incoming work. Someone would still need to post process the work that is scheduled to be published. This involves things like resolution, size, sharpening, etc. The technical aspects of this process are not that difficult and they do not have to re-invent the wheel to get this to work. What grabbed my attention is the level of accuracy and truth attached to the incoming work. Committed and dedicated Photojournalist are a special breed of Photographer. They place themselves into an unfolding newsworthy situation, and then begin the process of covering the event. In the front of their minds, is the goal often referred to as "the shot". They silently ask themselves, what one image tells this story accurately, can sit on the front page, and communicate story content to the reader? From experience, they know somewhere in that shoot there is an image, and they work for that shot. Friends often ask me, "why do those photographers need fifty shots of the same subject?" The answer lies in the content of the story, and mining out just the right image that will accompany the text and illustrate the storyline perfectly. A staff photographer builds a trust relationship with his editor who knows the quality and truthfulness of the work they produce.

 

I am both a photographer, and a consumer of photographs. I know that photographs can distort or reveal the truth, and that the integrity of the person doing the editing determines how this all works out. In the pre-digital photography era, the general public was less knowledgeable about the darkroom techniques used to enhance photographs. Credit was given to photographs as being truthful. This credit was not always deserved. In the field of Photojournalism a code of ethics is applied, both with the shutter button, and at the editor's desk. There have been instances where careers were threatened because an object that "cluttered" the shot was removed. The times we live in challenge this time honored work ethic. There are plenty of examples where the one thing missing from a news story seems to be ethics. This trend is not new. There always were organizations and people who claimed to be news people, but had other priorities than truth on their minds.

 

Truth is a very difficult quality to recognize. All of us take in information through our five senses and our brain processes that into thought. Because of family, biology, and experience we all develop unique personal filters. We all have a personal viewpoint that colors how we process information. If we are seeking the truth about the world around us then wisdom tells us we need many sources of information. We need to remove our emotion as much as possible when we compare these sources in search of the truth. This process is not an easy one nor is it something we humans take to that eagerly. Our mindset is that the truth should not be that hard to recognize, it is however, especially

these days. The unsung hero's of journalism work for the most part, known only to those who make a point to find out who they are. They sometimes take risks most of us would not. If Photojournalism is compromised in the name of budget concerns, the truth will be even harder for us to find in an homogenized news cycle.


Comments

Patricia Cantelmo(non-registered)
Andre: This is very true we are now going to be subjected to what "everyday people" think we should know based on their mind set or politics instead of what the photojournalists mind is trained to do which is to show all the story not just what they believe the story to be.

Very sorry day for the future of the photo news story. Loved this a lot.
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