Staging, Manipulation and Truth in Photography

The New York Times “Lens” Blog posted an important piece around how today’s photojournalists are, in my opinion, discrediting the profession for the sake of the perfect picture.

It seems that the current crop of younger photojournalists lack the learned philosophy of f/8 and being there, capturing those decisive moments as they reveal themselves in front of the camera – and when the photographer isn’t there to capture a decisive moment, many times they recreate it.

That’s a big No No in general and personally for me!

One commenters response stated it perfectly and I’ve taken liberties of reposting what they wrote:

“Our industry is constantly changing. Just because Eugene Smith did it, doesn’t make it right. It was right for his time, but not any longer. Things change.

And these semantic arguments about “what is truth?” and “our presence alters the situation so why not make better photos” are ridiculous. To me they sound like someone looking for an excuse to cut corners or impose their “vision” on a story.

As trained JOURNALISTS we should be trying our best to get as close to the “truth” as humanly possible. But, just because we can’t, that doesn’t mean we should be able to do whatever we want to make a “perfect/interesting” photo. If a writer did what these respondents claim they do, they’d be fired instantly.

One of the biggest issues is that there are too many photographers and not enough journalists (using a camera) practicing photojournalism/documentary these days.

Editors and publishers are encouraging “new visions” or “new ways” of telling stories. We end up with a bunch of mediocre photography that is “curated” and propped up by “explanations” and art speak as opposed to honest, storytelling moments that are shot and edited with storytelling in mind.”

To those photographers who choose to take up the mantle of reportage photography, be as authentic in your work even at the perceived expense of the missed perfect image.

It’s not worth it from a professional or personal integrity standpoint.

Read the full article and comments over at the NYT Lens Blog here

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