What Is a Photojournalist?

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A photojournalist has the responsibility to document current events as they occur without changing or altering the situation. Understand the difference between photojournalists and studio photographers with information from a professional photographer in this free video on the history of photography.

Part of the Video Series: Photography History & Techniques
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Video Transcript

The photojournalist goes in and tries to photograph what's there and try to understand what it is and communicate that, without changing any of it, you know. Very difficult for studio photographers to be photojournalist 'cos they have to light everything and they have to shoot everything four or five times. And the interesting thing, there was a, there was a couple of magazines. One I believe was called Black and White or but they would show the proof-sheets but it was amazing photojournalist. How few shots of each thing a photojournalist makes. They just make a couple of shots, you know. I mean most photographers shoot 36 to 1 or something, you know. They shoot, they shoot huge amounts of film and then they just pick out the ones they want. But certainly a photographer goes into a situation, tries to change it as little as possible and record it so that in such a way that people can understand what it was that they found there. I think probably the most important photographer would be W. Eugene Smith. I think some of the things, his Minimata photos, unbelievable photographs. There's a photograph there which I saw at ECU, in the gallery at ECU that have been printed by Smith and it was one of the Minimata photos and it was, you know, if you know the Minimata. It was the impact of mercury in the bay by this little town called Minimata and the effect that it had on the population in this particular picture was a woman, a mother with her son who was, you know, blood, born with birth defects and he was like 15 or 16, or 18 years old and she is holding him in this tub and his kind of like and she's kind of holding him in this very motherly kind of way. And the impact to that photograph was just huge. I mean for me, it was difficult not to cry most of the times that I saw it. And that kind of a photograph from a photographer like that, it's wonderful to see their print for a photographer, to see the print they make. To see the print that they thought it should be.


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