Sunday, June 16, 2013

Photojournalism and Bias

"Going Home"

Photographer - Ed Clark
Image Source

Subject's Expression - The main subject's expression is what steals the show in this photo.  The soldier is not overly posed, or acting it up for the camera.  He's simply showing his raw emotions through his tears.  His body language is completely in sync with what his facial expression reveals.

Rule of Thirds - The photographer avoided placing the main character in the center of the photo. Despite the main focal point being on the left 1/3 of the screen, he demands the viewers attention first.

Contrast Appropriate - The photographer struck gold when he took this shot.  The main focal point happens to be a black man in front of a white wall, with all white people in the background.  The contrast of his black skin and beautiful emotion compared to their somber white faces creates a great contrast of black and white.

When I look at this picture I see pure, honest emotion.  I initially thought this soldier had lost a friend in war; I later found out it was Franklin D. Roosevelt's burial.  The tears rolling down his face are the most powerful thing in the photograph.  I didn't even notice the people in the background for awhile because his face captured my attention.  It's almost as though he's trying to fight the tears, but his lips look like they might be quivering.  I'm seeing this photo for the first time, and I'm already an instant fan of it.

Betty Lane wrote an article titled "A Feminist Photojournalist's Arresting Images" and she opened it by saying "Words strive to appeal to the logical portion of our minds.  But the images captured by photojournalists... - often take hold of our hearts and reach us on a more primal emotional level."
When viewing photographs there is an inevitable fact their will be bias opinions from the viewers.  A photographs job is to tell a story, but the question remains how many sides to a picture is there?  How many stories can be told through one photo. In an interview with Shahidul Alam's (co-founder of a photojournalistic agency called Majority World) he said "A story has many truths, on many levels..."  So where do all of these different truths come from?  Where do these bias opinions come in?

They come in from the impact of life.  A persons' family, their neighborhoods, their parents view points, their workplaces, etc...  So can anyone look at one single photograph and share the same emotions as a person across the world?  Lets look at these photographs below and compare some truths.


Photographer - Christof Koepsel

Truth to me means there was no evidence of possible tampering with a photo.  Having 4 children of my own, I know it's extremely difficult to make small children do or say anything they really don't want to do.  When someone captures joy or sadness from a child in a photo, it's probably the real deal.  This photo above is a group of children playing soccer in South Africa.  Using the Sense Perception (WOK) I gather my evidence and conclude they appear happy and content kicking their simple ball around on a dusty dry field.  Their determination and joy on their faces hold an evident truth their happy in this simplicity.

Quality of Light - The light in this photo is engaging and bold.  The colors are bland and simple but the light makes them appear vibrant and alive.  Even the way the light is reflecting off the houses adds a depth to the photo.

Background Compliments - The houses in the background do not compete for your attention, they simply add a quality of light and contrast to the photo.  The background is blurry to keep your focus on the children playing.

Texture - The dry dirt ground, and brownish colored grass help set the tone for the hot atmosphere.


Photographer - Major Wire Services (Middle East) - actual photographer Unknown
Source -

For me this photo represents everything that can go wrong in photojournalism.  The photo alone tells a story, but their could be a hundred ways to interpret it.  The real story from the article titled "Massive Honest Reporting study shows bias in the use of photography"  spells out what really happened.  A group ran a study on the 3 major wire services and found a "blatant bias" toward Israel in the photographs being published; including "deliberate staging".  This has helped my Language/Authority (WOK) to confirm how Israel is portrayed as the bad guy in the Middle East.  When you examine the facts you realize on a daily basis they have to protect themselves against terrorism, hateful neighboring countries, and even the media.  So this photograph was just another example of how people can use a potentially fictitious event to stir up anger against Israel.

What feelings does the image create? - This image created a lasting impact inside of me.  I had to know what was going in the photo.  It captured my attention because I wasn't sure if it was a terror attack in another country, or something of that nature.  It sent me into an immediate search and conquer mode to find out the story behind the picture.

Does the image remind you of any work of art or photograph you have seen? - This photograph reminds me of the recent terror attacks in Boston.  I don't get stuck on the army guy yelling into the air, I focus more on the wounded civilian and explosion in the background.  It brought back some of the memories of the marathon victims lying wounded on the ground.

Is the image black & white or color?  The image is in color and it had to be to create the impact it requires.  The red blood, the burning explosion, the army green uniform... They all show different elements within the photo that add to the overall impact.

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