When it photojournalism art?
I have a liking for viewing photojournalism, but some is really, really good - when does it cross from being essentially journalism to something else? What might that 'else' be?
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In my opinion "art" is more a marketing term than anything else.
Therefore to answer your question, photojournalism becomes "art" when it is marketed to sell to the public and not for what it was originally intended.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
Not that my Photo-Journalism degree is any guage of my knowledge on art, but I'd chime in and say that when an image created as reportage, conveying the 5 W's to a publication readership, transcends the journalistic needs and delves into the much more emotional, psychological world of art.
I look at hundreds of photos every day for my international news page. I also have taken a few for the newspaper.
These are my notes:
1. A good photograph might not be a good news photograph. That is, an image may be very creative, out of the ordinary and stand on its own as an art piece but wouldn't convey the information needed to accompany a news item.
2. When I have more than one candidate for a news item, I will either choose the most clear one, where the reader will have no trouble understanding what's going on, or the most creative one. The former will give me the feeling that I am doing my job well, that is informing the reader visually and not only mentally. The latter, makes me feel like I am treating the reader to something special, like a dish with an extraordinary taste. One would fill his "stomach" and the other his "taste buds".
3. Creative photographs stand on their own and can be used again in the future, displayed by themselves as art pieces, or sum up the whole situation. Simple "visual news" are there only to accompany the news item and in many cases are unnecessary and give no more information than the text. For example, a photograph of a wrecked car by a bomb in Baghdad doesn't even need to be there as the reader probably has seen hundreds similar ones already and the text itself is enough for the information. A close up of a crying child done as an artistic portrait, not only sums up all the horror and misery of the entire conflict, but works in many other ways: Can be used again as I mentioned, it creates a more intimate connection with the subject of the news, goes beyong reportage and more towards an understanding of humanity. Like Salgado's work or any other master of photojournalism.
4. As I have taken photographs myself, for one thing, I think like an artist not like a photojournalist. Whether it was the trip to Martinique or the demonstration, I brought the Hasselblad, used film and my every photo was thought about, composed carefully and my pressing of the shutter button was like a sniper taking a headshot. The other photojournalists brought their digital machine guns and just aimed in the general direction, keeping the trigger pressed and only thinking of supplying the news page fodder.
5. All of my photographs that I have taken with an artistic mind (usually with the Hasselblad) can be shown on their own and can be part of my artistic portfolio. Yet, I also brought a Nikon (film or digital) for those "use once" photos of small politians shaking hands, etc.
6. To sum it up: a typical photojournalistic photo is "use once then throw away" when consumed, usuable only in the archive when needing something to accompany the text. Those photographs are merely fillers are rarely being payed attention by the photographers, the journalists, the editor or the reader. A more artistic photograph is more valuable, stands on its own and often can become iconic of an event or even an era.
The photograph of the bloody face of a student in the pavement with the boot of a riot officer next to him became iconic of the student demonstrations in Greece and was published in many newspapers in the front page, sometimes even more than once.
7. A good photojournalist works as a journalist and as an artist and usually for himself. A typical photojournalist is just a photographer, working for the paycheck.
Last edited by arigram; 11-25-2006 at 05:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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You would need to define what is an "artistic" photojuournalism image as opposed to a something like a Pulitzer prize winning image. Important images would be the photo of the South Vietnamese general executing a VC prsioner or the girl running down the road naked after being in a napalm attack. Niether image would fit my definition as art, but they may be two of the most recognizable images of the 20th century, at least among folks 40 and older.
The iconic image of Che Geuvera is a photojournalism shot, but nothing artisitc about it. Yet again, one of the most recognizable images of the last century. Somewhere along the line this image was apropriated and used for political motives, turning it into a classic.
Collectors and galleries decide when something is $art$. However, a powerful image that leaves an impression years after first being seen transcends simple photojournalism.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
Photojournalism becomes art when the image is transformed with aesthetic. A good news image illustrates and informs, but the image itself is probably an afterthought.
Whereas someone like Eugene Richards, in his long-term projects (I'm assuming that for your purposes, documentary is part of photojournalism), tells a story with a guiding aesthetic that defines the project.
Photojournalism was art when Eugene Smith was free to practice it as he wished.
Photojournalism today is advertising and passing fashion targeted to education of mass of people, so have nothing in comon with any kind of work of art. Also today Photojournalist is not a photographer but editor and "A"rt directors. Photographer is only a supplier of whatever, and there are guys after photographer to take care of suplied materials and to "fit" into requirements. At very end a photographer is no more required to produce a photo story within Photojournalism.