Over the last few years photojournalism has had a growing impact on my perception of news and how it relates to the world at large. I hadn’t ever paid much attention to the photographs accompanying news stories until my sophomore year of high school. Slowly, I began to pay more attention to what the photographs were adding to the story: intense emotion; physical accounts of what was being discussed; a specific moment in time. Soon, I was in awe of the ability that certain people had to convey and capture exactly what was being said in the articles I was reading. Photojournalists have the specific talent of being able to bring another level of reality to the reader.
The Role of Photography in Current News
In the last few years photography has played an increasingly large role in the news cycle. Covering climate change, presidential elections, global pandemics, and political turmoil around the world, I believe that photojournalism rivals the importance of the published, written article. In addition, media sharing platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, have broadened the reach that photography can have to the average person. Photography is now more accessible to the general public than it has been in the past.
Recently I have been following many photojournalists in their documentation of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. It’s been extremely powerful to see the past images of Afghanistan in the late 90’s, there past twenty years of rebuilding, and now the return of Taliban rule. For me, it is one thing to hear about atrocities committed, but to see war-torn villages or the exasperated emotion in a civilian’s face evokes a much deeper understanding of the lived experience.
Photography is both an art and a tool of information. Although many photographs can be staged and manipulated, photojournalism takes the raw experience and captures it in frame. The talent that photojournalists possess to see a moment before it happens and capture it in a way that allows a large audience to transport themselves into that moment is truly insane.
Photojournalists I Admire
Jim Huylebroek, @jimhuylebroek, is an independent photojournalist based out of Afghanistan. For the last eight years he has been documenting the movements of Afghan peoples as they try to adapt within and recover from their country’s tumultuous past.
Natalie Keyssar, @nataliekeyssar, is a freelance photographer based out of New York City. Most recently she has covered the 2020 election, nightlife, briefly returning to NYC the summer, and the female equestrian team known as Escaramuzas.
Erin Schaff, @erinschaff, is a staff photographer for The New York Times based out of Washington, DC. She has covered politics in DC for the last seven years and more recently focused on hospitalized COVID-19 patients. She is also a Kenyon alum, which is super cool.
My mom would hate to hear me say this, but much of my news is received through photojournalism. I am able to get a much more realistic view of what I am absorbing and become more engaged in the issue being discussed. Photography is an easily accessible, wide reaching form of news coverage that should be recognized more often for its immense power of representation.