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The art of taking photographs in a set sequence in order to tell a news story, the photographs can encapsulate situations, people, events and scenes of good and bad but in the end they are there to help the reader understand what is happening in that situation.

Looking up this term in the dictionary will give you the definition of Journalism making primary use of photographs in presenting news or features, where as an encyclopaedia may state that it is a particular form of journalism that creates in images a news story by collecting, editing and presenting the news material for publication. A Photojournalist is a ‘reporter’, but unlike a writer who uses words to encapsulate the story in front of them, the photographer takes the images and has very little room for fiction as what is going on in front of them is instant and factual. Today of course it can also relate to not only the still picture, but also the moving image in the form of video.

Photojournalism is determined by three main elements, timelines where the images relate to recently published events, narrative combining the images with other news elements allows the facts to become relatable to the viewer or reader, and sobriety where the images have to be a fair and accurate representation of the events both in tone and content.

Technology Plays it’s part. Early photojournalism was published in newspapers but because of the limitations of the printing presses very early ones had to be transferred to engravings for the printers to be able to print the image. 1921 saw the introduction of the ‘wirephoto’ which made it possible to transmit pictures either by the telegraph or telephone, however the limitations were still with the letterpress technology used to print the newspapers. It wasn’t until the 1980’s when the majority of newspapers switched to ‘offset’ presses that photo reproduction became better quality and in more demand. But of course technology moves on and today with digital cameras, mobile phones, it is far easier to take images, with many taking far more photographs than will be used and with video phones, satellites, laptops with wifi it is faster to transmit images around the world, making news more instant but going out of date more quickly.

Photojournalism works with the same ethical approaches as other journalists having to decide on what to shoot, how to frame and edit, and are constant considerations as the photojournalist has no control over how the images are ultimately used, being handed over to the sub-editor or picture editor of the publications. Digital photography offers even more challenges as the opportunity for manipulation, reproduction and transmission of images is far easier and it can be tempting to alter an image to give better image of what was actually there. Laws regarding photography can vary from nation to nation and the professional organisations around the world produce codes of ethics to specify approaches which should be used.

There are Professional Organisations around the world for Press Photographers/Photojournalists and their work is celebrated each year by various awards including ‘Feature Photography’ Sport News Photography, World Press Photo, Best of Photojournalism, Pictures of the Year and The Press Photographers Year. Since the 1970’s photojournalism has found its place within galleries alongside fine art photography and some photojournalists have regular exhibitions.


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