I almost have to laugh to myself when I think of how shallow my initial statements were. Yes I did a lot of research to get myself up to speed, but little did I know what I was missing from my first assignment. Photojournalism is a world full of truth tellers and liars. They are normal people with normal emotions, and great motivations. You want to believe all the photographs you see are real, but when you dig deep enough you might find out some of them have been staged; or even worse altered. I've had a lot of "Ah-ha" moments along my road of understanding photojournalism, and not all of them were good ones. Professor Nordell showed us an example of a photographer who produced a photo of a soldier yelling at a man holding his child. It was later revealed that the photographer merged two separate shots together to make a greater impact. The flaws were caught when someone noticed the duplication of the same people in the background. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you want to believe in something, and it ultimately ends up being falsified information.
Another "Ah-ha" moment I had was when I was reading an article written about an old war photograph. The photo had a dead soldier with his rifle in the background. Critics identified the photo as being a staged photo because during those times dead soldiers would have been looted of everything they had; boots, knives, and especially rifles that were hard to come by. There would be no way a dead man would be lying there with all of his gear surrounding him. This opened my eyes to the reality of everything you see in a great war photo may not be true. I feel like now I will view all photographs through a discerning lens, vice just taking them for what they are.
Photographer - Alexander Gardner
Source - http://bcwrt.nalweb.net/previous2005.html
As I revisit all that I have learned over the course of this journey; so many things have redefined my definition of photojournalism. One thing would be the biased opinions of a photojournalist, and the effect it can have a nation. For example, another "ah-ha" moment was when I was researching the bias opinions of photojournalist. I found a group that ran an extensive study on bias photographers in the Middle East, and they found unprecedented evidence to conclude there was a severe bias against Israel. To the point there were staged photos, and many cropped photos taken out of context. I have always believed Israel has many enemies in that region of the world; but I didn't consider that it was photojournalist fueling the fire. That was a significant new idea that got me thinking.
My initial reaction to the question "Do photographs change the world" was a resounding yes. After everything I've learned it cemented that philosophy into my mind. In the beginning I used the photo of the lochness monster as an example. It created a multi-thousand dollar travel industry to that region of the world, just for the opportunity to see "Old Nessy". I love irrefutable evidence, and after I've read through hundreds of articles concerning photographs that have impacted society; I feel like I have hundreds of examples to support my original statement. Recently I completed a Photojournalist Profile on Michael Bleasdale. During my research I saw many of his great photos; reading through the full story behind them.
Photographer - Marcus Bleasdale
Source - http://www.nyphotoreview.com/NYPR_REVS/NYPR_REV2205.html
This image had a lasting impact on me. The innocence of the child has been stripped away by the tragedy within the Congos. A writer by the name of Mohammad Chowdhury wrote an article titled "Questions without Answers" and he stated how "Most of these children are forcefully recruited and made to follow orders under death threat. The boy’s smile as he holds his rifle suggests the loss of childhood innocence in a world where violence is an accepted fact of life. By putting the main subject at the forefront and using shallow depth of field, all we see is a boy who has become desensitized to the horror and consequence of taking a life." As hard as it was to see images like these it was great to learn how the pictures taken by Mr. Bleasdale helped defund the warlords.
Creative Experimental Exercise -
The Calm Before the Storm - East Longmeadow Carnival
Photojournalist - Bill Garvey
All Photographs Produced By - Bill Garvey
I chose the carnival to shoot my pictures because I knew it was on the brink of opening up, and the fairgrounds would be empty. I wanted to give my viewers the opportunity to see the carnival from a new perspective. One that would include empty rides, no lines, no parents frantically looking for their wondering children, etc... Therefore labeling my piece "The Calm Before the Storm."
Tomorrow will come and thousands of people will fill this 10 acre property. Thousands of dollars will be spent, and little kids will laugh and beg their parents to go on "one more ride." But today my friends there is peace and silence among the rides. Not a child to be seen, nor a popcorn kernel on the grass, only emptiness amongst the assembled rides. Enjoy your peacefulness you rides, because this night will end quickly, and when tomorrow June 28th comes, it's your time to shine!
Classmates Reflection- What a ride its been!
I've enjoyed all of your creativity and style. After reviewing all of your Photojournalist Profiles, I would love to close this class by commenting on what I've taken away from all of your hard work. Melissa G I loved the motivational quote you used from Bill Biggarts' wife saying "He was a person who loved his work and was working at what he loved right up to the end." It's unfortunate that many people don't appreciate the risks that photojournalist take to provide the work they do; but you know his wife is feeling the loss. Nicole D, you used a photo from 9/11 that I have never seen before. The photo from Mr. Nachtwey really captures many of the principles of photography that we have covered; I love this shot! Also, I enjoyed your new method of bringing your voice into the presentation. It was great to see that change of pace this late in the game.
Image Source - http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1660644_1442573,00.html
Vita you had me from the moment I saw "Top Secret" on the top of your work. Being a military guy dealing with classified information, you had me before I saw Pete Souza! Your choice of images were great too. The one of Obama sitting alone against the chair looking at his clipboard; you had to wonder what was going through his head. The one of Obama pounding it out with the other guy was a classic. I feel like I've seen so many great images from all of you, I just want to thank you all for your time and effort that you put in. Many of the photos will remain in my memory forever. The photo several of you used of the little girl starving to death, with the vulture in the background was heart wrenching. Reading that the photographer took 20 minutes to capture the shot was even more horrifying. These images have turned into conversation starters with my friends and family. I guess that helps support my philosophy that "photographs definitely change the world." After completing my Creative Experimental Exercise I can safely say that I feel like everyone has grown throughout this class. Not only in the educational background of what photojournalism is and isn't, but as individuals and personal photographers. I never knew about the "use of lines in photos", or using contrast to make certain things stand out. But I do now, and I'm excited to get out there and make use of my new abilities. Take care all!