View Full Version : Photojournalism and Art

01-12-2010, 07:58 AM
As per Marko's suggestion :) I am posting this in a different thread.

After seeing the thread started by Acadie Libre called http://www.photography.ca/Forums/f29/started-mouse-6701-2.html#post47361 I got to thinking.... :eek: :clown:
-Is photojournalism art or are the two completely separate genres?
-Can photojournalism be art and vice-versa?
-If so....when does one become the other....when an object is moved to stage a scene or enhance a mood/feeling the person is trying to convey?
-What do you consider these images?
Raising the Flag at Ground Zero - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raising_the_Flag_at_Ground_Zero)

In the second one the flag was brought in from a yacht on the Hudson River so does that make it photojournalism or art?

Just curious mostly on your thoughts and to start some discussion. :)

01-12-2010, 08:41 AM
The stage setting for Iwo Jima is not photojournalism, cut and dry, it was staged.

No one will every convince me that if you move an item that it is a OK to get your photo under any circumstances, never. Stalin did it, Mao did, it ends up becoming media manipulation, it is no different than journalist twisting minor facts to make the story more interesting, I find any media manipulation in any sense vile. Once you manipulate an image, a story it is no longer news but the photojournalists or journalist twisting of the facts. See James Nachtwey (http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/) a real photojournalist never came under suspicion, that should be the standard. All photojournalism should be beyond reproach.

As always I am passionate about these things so I have said my piece and will leave at such.

This is From National Press Photographers Association (http://www.nppa.org/professional_development/business_practices/ethics.html)

Code of Ethics
Visual journalists and those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding the following standards in their daily work:

Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one's own biases in the work.
Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.
Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists

01-12-2010, 08:49 AM
The stage setting for Iwo Jima is not photojournalism, cut and dry, it was staged.

I can appreciate that...and especially your passion but what I'm getting at here seeing as it is no longer photojournalism....is it now considered art? :)
It is a famous photo and do we now judge it on its artistic merit only?
Or do we just disregard it altogether because it was staged and phoney?

01-12-2010, 10:21 AM
For me photojournalism can indeed be considered art. It's a broad topic though this term photojournalism. Lots of the 'art' comes from the ability to control the light....and perhaps the composition.

Here's a very good and famous example that I've talked about before on this board:

Eugene Smith, the photographer is one of the most famous photojournalists of all time and this is one of his most famous images. Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath shot in Minamata Japan.

For me this is art AND photojournalism. It IS art for me based on the lighting , composition. LOTS of darkroom work on this photograph including bleaching the whites to make them brighter.

01-12-2010, 01:47 PM
Its photojournalism first and people may see at an art form. Which it fine, the story of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki aftermath was photojournalism and it then became what some people consider art, I admire the technique and lighting but the first reason was to portray the devastation of the horrific aftermath of an atomic explosion. I see it as photojournalism period. The tragedy of it needed someone to document this madness of man. I don't see it art I see as a record of inhumanity. Marko you and I will never agree and I see it as I do, and you will see it as you do. It is wonderful we all view it in a different light but to me there is a very fine thin line between the two and I want and hope they remain separate.

When I was in Nicaragua 1978, long story how I ended up their, a tale for another day, but during the Nicaragua civil war and what I saw the government of Anastasio Somoza Debayle did to manipulate the media with images and reporting I was appalled. I spent 6 months there during the civil war and it is why I am such a staunch believer in truth in media. Once you allow minor changes in photos and or reporting it changes what the world and the country sees and it is not the truth. I know the Sandinista's manipulated the media also, both sides sickened me. We came across a small forested area there about 15 people shot in the head execution style, the Debayle Government at the time blamed the Sandinistas for the for a guerrilla attack and the government forces were defending themselves I read in a paper days later but the weapons used the the tire tracks and other items left behind it was a government massacre. We showed up with a group of the SNLF the media that was their from the government was trying to arrange the bodies so it did not look like they were lined up and shot but they were attempting to make it look like it it was a guerilla attach by the SNLF. They tried to stage it, so I have very strong opinions because of the atrocities I saw and the way both sides would manipulate the scene to blame the other, it is why we need impartial photojournalists that will shoot what they see and not arrange it to get the desired effect.

Since then I draw a distinct line between art and photojournalism. Nothing anyone can say will change that, we went down to help and I was 16 at the time, although my documents said I was 21, I walked away horrified by what both sides did. We buried those bodies it took us two days and there were children no more than 12. The government only showed the older victims and claimed they were ambushed, those who were massacred were unarmed. Not something I try to remember but we need photojournalism to be that, people want to see art in the horror that is their call, I can't. Never will.

01-12-2010, 02:21 PM
Wow what experiences you've had A.L....we need to have another beer.

I agree we see things differently A.L. I think one of our main differences is that it seems to me that you are trying very hard to keep art/photojournalism different based on the principles you hold dear. (which I 100% agree with btw, but principles are solid and human motivation is not..silly things like deadlines and fame come into play)

If the photojournalist crafts a shot this is abhorrent to you it seems...and I certainly see your point with documenting a war but Photojournalism is a wide wide genre. This Minimata shot you agree is Photojournalism first...but don't you think this shot was somewhat 'crafted/staged'.

Do you think the subject just happened to be in the tub in this way by accident and that this is pure reportage? In this light? posing like this? with these tones?..... coincidentally as Smith came by the house?

For me, Smith set this up, and BECAUSE of this, it's 1 part art and 1 part photojournalism.

01-12-2010, 05:18 PM
I think the Eugene Smith shot is photojournalism in that its intent was to tell a story about the plight of mercury poisoning in Japan to the rest of the world. Yes it was staged but it was also effective in the fact that it made aware the issue to people who were oblivious to it initially the same as many images depicting hunger and war are.
Did it also manipulate the public?...absolutely as it triggered a response in people.
Did Smith keeps his journalistic integrity with in this image? IMO yes and no
Yes in the sense he did his job as a photojournalist...no in the fact that he staged the scene... even doing so he did it with the permission of the family involved so big grey area there.
Is this image art and photojournalism...absolutely because it told a story that needed to be told, it painted a beautiful and captivating picture with light and shadow and it emoted a response and informed its audience.

I totally respect your thought on this subject AL. You have definitely seen more in this world than I have to warrant such strong convictions and I completely agree with you in the regards of which you speak. I also think that there are certain grey areas between the 2 subjects also after seeing Smith's striking image. :)

01-12-2010, 05:25 PM
so this is why this photo (National geographic) has not had the horizon levelled?
Right Whales ? Photo Gallery ? National Geographic Magazine (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/10/right-whales/skerry-photography)

I come back to how this relates to written journalism in which certain facts may or may not work their way into the story and/or quotes taken out of context can change the entire meaning of a story. I actually have no thoughts on this one way or the other at this point. I am just trying to read and learn :).

01-12-2010, 11:15 PM
There is bound to be certain staging by probably a large segment of photojournalists, but I think it is wrong, I know it happens, I am sure at times I have thought a shot was not staged that has turned out to have been. I just find it unfortunate it happens, it just makes the public doubt the images, they assume that they are all staged and it just takes away from the integrity of the profession.

I cannot recall the writers name at the moment who worked for the NYT who was being paid by outside sources and was also plagiarizing sources to slant the story to favour of those who paid him and it took the NYT years to get over that and many people started to question everything in the entire paper. I would prefer we can trust out journalist to give to the best of their ability a truthful telling of stories based on fact or photo of the news event not based on personal bias or to embellish the image just to make it more interesting, sometimes the news or the photo is boring to the average reader but it does a disservice to the general population who expects the news to be entertaining and the is not the purpose of the news . I am not naive to believe it doesn't happen with great frequency and that what bothers me. It seems they want to get a point or position across rather just the facts that can be gathered rather than embellishing it for the ignorant masses to make it more entertaining or politically charged because the public wants to be entertained, facts are boring, a photo without some strong central point bores people.

We all photograph and write with our own slant, purposefully or subconsciously. We are only human after all, all I expect is that they do there best to try and be honest and impartial and not stage photos to make a political point or to make the story more fanciful than needs be. It has always happened and always will, that is what I find sad. I am a news junky, but any story I read I look at at least 3 sources before I take it as questionable fact and usually I read main stream news and alternative news sources and from different politically slanted papers and in the middle somewhere lies almost the truth.

We cannot make good news out of bad practice.
Edward R. Murrow

01-13-2010, 07:51 AM
While I'll be the first to agree that photojournalism needs to be objective and the photographs need to be untouched we also have submit to the fact that the photojournalist has their own motivations. The Mickey Mouse photo is a perfect example of this as had the photographer lifted the viewpoint a few inches Mickey would not be in the photo and it would have been a photo of a bombed building. By choosing to include Mickey the photojournalist is intimating that this is a place where kids might be hanging about.

Or if you look at the story A.L. relates about Nicaragua (Wow, A.L. you've definitely have some amazing stories. You should be writing a book!) un-photoshopped photos can manipulate the message through simple composition. Include the kids in the shot or not. You do not necessarily have to alter the image to skew the message.

As to whether any of this is art or not? Hmm. I'm not sure what "art" is, really. It's an expression of one's creativity. I can be pretty creative when I'm stringing together a bunch of code to write a software program. Would you call that art? I just know that I enjoy doing both - not sure if I'd call either art and not sure that I wouldn't call both art.

01-13-2010, 10:29 AM
I think for me, if it's more of a crafted shot (during shooting/printing) then it's more likely to be art.

Using the war photography example, those shots are less likely to be art because they should not be crafted.

Photojournalist essays can absolutely be art because they are crafted.

Obviously these are all personal definitions and concepts so you may not agree with me and that's cool, it just makes your opinion wrong :p

01-13-2010, 01:02 PM
Obviously these are all personal definitions and concepts so you may not agree with me and that's cool, it just makes your opinion wrong :p

I was wrong once in my life, I had thought I had made a mistake lmaooooo :laughing:

01-13-2010, 01:23 PM
I was wrong once in my life, I had thought I had made a mistake lmaooooo :laughing:

Reminds me of the sign my father put in the kitchen.

"I have my faults, but being wrong is not one of them." :laughing:

01-14-2010, 01:12 AM
Reminds me of the sign my father put in the kitchen.

"I have my faults, but being wrong is not one of them." :laughing:
:laughing::laughing::laughing::laughing: Love it ......