Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A summary to my study of photojournalism

                 Photography has always been interesting to me. I was heartbroken when I found out that I wasn’t able to take it in high school, and even more disappointed that I didn’t have the time to explore the field of photography in my free time, as it seemed like I barely had the time to do everything else that needed to get done. Again in college there had not yet been an opportunity to combine my passion for taking pictures into my academic calendar, and I had basically come to the realization that there never would. That is, until I found out that I needed one more class to satisfy AIC’s cultural awareness requirement. I was not the least bit thrilled about having to take a summer class. I love school and value my education highly, but the idea of being in class while all of my friends were enjoying their vacation was less than appealing. True fortune happened upon me when given the opportunity to take this class however. Not only did I finally get to take a class that allowed me to explore photography, but being online I didn’t have to worry about physically being in class during the first part of my summer.
                Looking back on what I thought I knew regarding the idea of photojournalism at the beginning of the semester makes me reflect on how wrong I was. I stand by my definition of photojournalism from the first assignments. I worked, researched, and thought about those definitions for a very long time, and I believe that they are accurate. In my first post I said, “
Through the use of both videos and photographs, photojournalists aim to tell a story allowing viewers to experience emotion, bring forth old memories, and create new ones. Through photojournalism, the power of images, rather than words, is used to illustrate a piece of a much larger story. The content of photojournalism can influence viewers’ feelings about both present and past events. It can be used to sway public opinion, or bring light to a perspective that was previously overlooked.” While I believe that to be true, I know now that for many photojournalists that isn’t what it’s about. Photojournalism is in fact a paid profession and many out there work as photojournalists for that reason, but I believe that there are many more that do it for experience. They do it because they love it. They do it because it allows them to share their passion with millions of people, most of which they have never even met. In my photojournalist profile I used a quote by James Nachtwey where he says, “I am less concerned with the composition of my photographs and more focused on the effect that they might have on the viewers”. For Nachtwey and others photojournalism is a lot more in depth than just taking a picture.
                While reviewing my classmates’ blog posts I was drawn to a quote by photojournalist Deborah Kogan which my classmate Holly wrote about in her profile. When asked about her motivation for becoming a photojournalist Kogan said simply, “I wanted to see how history is being made up close”. Though there have been numerous changes technologically, socially and politically that have affected the field of photojournalism, it is equally important to consider how photojournalism has affected history. Part of what makes photojournalism so magical, is not the first moment when the picture is captured, or the public reaction as it is released for the first time, but rather, the impact that the image can have even a century later. Photojournalism both creates and preserves history. In one of my classmates Bill’s posts he said “Photojournalism can also work as a catalyst for change through the power of the images captured and portrayed to seemingly neutral parties by enlightening our deeper understanding of the world”. It is important to know the source of photojournalism and its history as that paves the way for how the people of the world view current events. Photojournalists document people and events that have the ability to change a nation. They allow us to see what is happening in the local area, across state boundaries and even around the globe.
                The moment that I came to fully understand what it meant to be a photojournalist came in the module titled “the art of photojournalism”. For me, pictures had always been a work of art, however art was such a widespread topic that I didn’t fully understand. The content of this module required us to view images and asses them using assessment principles for content and artfulness of the photographs. There were concepts in this module that I had never considered as being deliberate as a person took a picture. As I searched for images and completed the assignment I found myself intrigued. After reading my classmates’ posts and viewing many images, it was like I had learned an entirely different side to photojournalism. That module was my “ah-ha” moment. It has changed the way I look at pictures, and taught me a great deal about their content as well. I have a new found appreciation for each picture that I look at. I can see the pieces of it that make it a great photo, whether deliberate or otherwise, perspective changes everything.
                As I have believed even prior to being faced with this question for the first time earlier in the semester, “pictures speak a thousand words” . Literally and figuratively images give us something that the spoken word does not. Regardless of how graphically something is explained, seeing an image never compares. As I have discovered throughout the semester, some pictures may have a very different impact than others. Pictures taken by war photographers for example, may cause people to initially react negatively. They may say that the images are too violent, too graphic and should not have been published. These same images however may be welcomed by others, prompting social change and raising awareness. Images of violence can sway public opinion. Political images can display qualities that prompt social action.  Ad Vita said in her profile about Pete Souza, “he must photograph the president and release only photos which will prompt the public to view their president in a positive light”. Other images may inspire feelings of happiness, confidence or love in others. Regardless of the subject, photographs make people feel, and they prompt people to act; and in doing this, they change the world. 

Image By: Nicole Dufresne

Image By: Nicole Dufresne
                As a part of the creative aspect of this post I spent some time over this past weekend snapping pictures of my younger cousins as they played at the beach. While I wouldn’t consider my images to really be photojournalistic, I experimented with a longer lens and black and white shooting just to try something new. I wanted to capture my cousins having fun and smiling, but not posing for the camera. I am pleased with how the pictures turned out, though they are far from comparing to some of the impactful images I have viewed over this course. One picture that really stood out to me was posted by my classmate William Garvey. The image was simple, two hands on top of one another, but I will never forget it. It was both happy and sad as it made me wonder what the scene around the hands had looked like. After seeing the picture on my classmates’ blog, I followed his link hoping to read more. The picture left an impact on me that I was not expecting. A second picture was one that both I and my classmate Jay Sanders posted of a small girl shot and bleeding on a rooftop. The collection of those images was so heartbreaking to me. Knowing that people let her lie there as they took pictures rather than covering her body really felt like a punch in the stomach. It broke my heart as I read the father’s quotes in the article, and it is definitely not an image I will ever forget. Though those are only two examples, images discovered in this course, and the knowledge associated with our study of photojournalism has prompted me to explore my passion further. I know that these images and ones that I have yet to discover will impact me in an entirely new way after taking this course.

Image By: Michael Wells
Image Source:

Image By: Paul Hansen
Image Source:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Photojournalist Profile - James Nachtwey

The following blog post contains an overview of the photojournalist James Nachtwey's life and career. Each hyperlink brings you to a MP3 clip of me talking about varying aspects of Nachtwey's career including his source of motivation, types of technology utilized, ethical challenges that he faced, and the impact that he has had on society. Images of Nachtwey's work are included within the blog to accompany the spoken words.

Image Source:
Image By: Unknown

The destruction and devastation which occurred following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 is difficult to look at. Having lived though it, known people affected by it, and visited the memorial recently, seeing images like this one from James Nachtwey are tough to swallow. Nachtwey took many photos of the aftermath of that event which were published in magazines and newspapers across the country. This image captures the rubble, the firefighters, and the smoke cloud from the explosions in a way different than most pictures from that day. The quality of light in the photo makes the scene look strangely calm. As the sun sets in the background and the people in the picture are standing still, its hard to grasp the continued panic that we all know was taking place still at this time. Furthermore, the perspective of the photo, looking out through a "peephole" makes it seem like Nachtwey is detached from the misery before him, allowing him to spy down on what is happening yet not have to get too close. Finally, this picture is unique in the sense that as a viewer, I'm not positive what the main subject is. Is it the smoke clouding the building in the background? The piles of rubble? or The workers standing in the lower center of the picture. Here Nachtwey captured an event that most people today know all too well, in a completely unique way. 

Image Source:,29307,1660644_1442573,00.html
Image By: James Nachtwey 

This image captured by Nachtwey in 1992 shows a young teenage boy who is exhibiting part of a right of passage in his country of South Africa. Adolescents here go though a part of the ceremony where they are covered in white powder and stay like that for a few days. The picture shows a large close-up main subject who is taking up a great proportion of the screen. The powder on his skin creates a texture that makes him appear soft and gentile, though he has a bony structure with defined muscles. The image also shows another male in the background, likely doing the same thing. Both boys look bored and disinterested. The image makes me want to learn more about them. I want to know more about the tradition and it intrigues me why the boy is ignoring the camera entirely. 

image Source:
Image By: James Nachtwey

This image by Nachtwey of a prisoner on the chain gang from Alabama in 1994 got my attention right away. The perspective of the photo is intriguing as it appears that the camera is very close to the subject, yet the subject seems to be unfazed. Before reading the caption I would have guessed that the subject was quite a bit younger. The angle of his face and apparent disappearance of his body do not give any clues away to how old the boy is. The use of lines from the fence give an interesting vantage point to the photo, and the reflection of the lines on the individuals face makes the entire picture feel threatening. The black and white color scheme too gives the whole "prison feeling" to everyone. Just as there is only black and white coloring in the picture, there are only two options with photography, take the photo, or do not. 
Image Source:
Image By: James Nachtwey 

The following image is from Pakistan in 2001. The image captures men inside a rehab center where they are treated while recovering from Heroin addictions. Nachtwey makes use of the photographers tool "rule of thirds" as he positions his camera to not only cover the main subject in the right two thirds of the frame, but also to capture others that are sitting further down the tunnel in the background. The photo is simple yet impact-full. Dark lighting and shadows contribute to a feeling of tragedy, and painstakingly slow progress. The image is not cluttered by too much activity. The emptiness and segregation between the men in the pictures is a further reminder of how alone they must feel as they go through the painful withdrawal process from Heroin. 
Image Source:
Image By: James Nachtwey 

This image of a man attempting to put out a large fire on a truck in Northern Ireland in 1981 demonstrates the extent to which protests and political stands were taken in order to prove a point. The image is a perfect example of the idea of "the decisive moment". Nachtwey as the photographer makes sure to capture the exact moment that the man is releasing the water from his pail. Though there is a lot of movement going on in the image, that deceive moment was captured by Nachtwey. Using a fast shutter speed the water and the man are captured using relatively precise clarity. The other textures in the picture, combined with the challenges to keep everything in focus while capturing such a decisive moment mean that other background portions of the image are slightly blurred. The smoke gives the image texture as it puffs out around the truck.  The combination of these elements give the photo the feeling of "a snapshot in time". 
Image Source:
Image By: James Nachtwey

The final photo is an image taken by Nachtwey in Haiti, displaying a statue famous in the country, standing above a pile of burning ruins. The contrast between the foreground and background makes the photo extremely impactful. The light from the fire casts a dark shadow on the statue and gives it a silhouette feeling. It allows the statue to be a larger more prominent presence. Furthermore, the darkness of the edges of the photo draw the attention further to the pile of rubble. The light from the fire peaks through pieces of splintered wood and trash and gives dimension to something that may otherwise just have been a pile of junk. The picture personifies the statue and everything symbolic about it as it stands tall over the destruction. The colors of the fire are warm, yet the topic itself is cold. The significance of the statue still standing is a testament to Haiti's perseverance and desire as they overcame significant challenges in their country. 

Image Source:,29307,1957522_2030384,00.html
Image By: James Nachtwey 


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What motivates photojournalists?

Image Source:
Image By: Unknown 
               James Nachtwey is a war photographer. Having photographed in South Africa and Rwanda, he has experienced on many occasions what it is like to be in the midst of a war zone. Though he consents that the main purpose of his work is to appear in the mass media, he comments about the pain that it brings him to achieve success from documenting other’s in times of struggle, despair and hurting. Photographing war however, is what he feels is important. He said, “Why photograph war? It is possible to put an end to a form of human behavior, which has existed throughout history, by the means of photography”. He goes on to say that, “For me, the strength of photography lies in its ability to evoke humanity. If war is an attempt to negate humanity, then photography can be perceived as the opposite of war”. His passion and motivation to capture such graphic and emotional events on film comes from a drive to share with the world things that not every person can experience. Nachtwey comments that he wishes every person was able to experience a war zone just once. To understand the effects of tear gas, to see the destruction caused by one grenade, on flying piece of shrapnel. However, that isn't possible and because of this he says, “But not everyone can be there, and that is why photographers go there. To show them, to reach out and grab them and make them stop what they’re doing and pay attention to what is going on. To create pictures powerful enough to overcome the diluting effects of the mass media and shake people out of their indifference; to protest, and by the strength of that protest, to make others protest”. Nachtwey’s motivation comes from a desire to capture and share his experiences with the world, which to me makes him a true photojournalist. 
Image Source:
Image By: James Nachtwey

Image Source:
Image by:Unknown 
                Often times, motivation for taking a photo may lead to criticism by the audience who later views it. This can be said of a famous image taken by photojournalist Kevin Carter. Carter had traveled to Sudan in the early 90’s where he documented some of the most horrific and saddening images the world has seen. His most famous photo may also be his most critiqued. The image of a young, starving child being stalked by a vulture as the bird waits for the girl to die has been talked about, and continues to be talked about to this day. Many people criticize Carter saying that he should have helped the girl, and that by taking the picture he acted “like a true vulture” and that the picture was a display of his “lack of humanity”. Carter later received a Pulitzer Prize for the image that was so highly criticized, yet detailed exactly what he was there to do; his job. A note that Carter was found with after he committed suicide said, “I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners. The pain of life overrides the joy, to the point that joy does not exist." Carter’s motivation too came from a desire to share the truth. He was quoted when asked what goes through his head when he approaches a horrific scene like that in Sudan saying “Inside a voice is screaming, ‘My God!’ But it is time to work. Deal with the rest later”. 
Image Source:
Image By: Kevin Carter
Image Source:
Image By: Unknown
                    While photojournalism is most frequently about a job, a desire to do that job everyday can provide a substantial amount of motivation and passion behind one’s work. Photojournalist Michael Coyne may have had his images published in Newsweek, Time, National Geographic and other notable magazines, but his real reason for being a photojournalist comes from his love and passion for taking pictures. Coyne wrote an article several years ago titled “As Long as there is Passion, There Will Be Great Photojournalism”. In this article he spoke about a meeting/get together that he attended with other photojournalists where they talked and shared some of their work. It wasn't about money, or fame, or whose pictures were the best, but rather about something that they all had in common, a love of taking pictures. Coyne said in the article, “The images on display reflected what good documentary photography is all about: involvement, passion,patience and a fire in the belly to get that once-only image”. Coyne recognizes that being a photojournalist sometimes means putting oneself in uncomfortable, dangerous, or venerable places, however the costs for him do not outweigh the benefits. He says, “Am I embarrassed, uncomfortable or even ashamed sometimes? Yes. We often justify what we do by saying that photographs can make a difference and change things. I don’t believe that. Photographs can inform people and be part of a series of events that change things, but they don’t change things by themselves.” Coyne takes pictures for a job, but he also takes them for himself and for others. Photojournalism is about connecting with others people who have similar interests and passions for you, and for Coyne, that is motivation enough to continue doing what he loves. 
Image Source:
Image By: Michael Coyne

Original drawing and image by: Nicole Dufresne
Personal motivations come from a lot of places, and as evident in my motivation star, some of the sources can be positive while others are the exact opposite. I draw my motivation greatly from my interests, aspirations and from past experiences. I was never the child with a celebrity crush, or a family member that I was truly in awe of and wanted desperately to be. My motivation comes from finding things that make me happy and that will allow me to feel successful. Drawing from the past allows me to correct my own mistakes, which is a large component of success and a source of motivation for me. I am encouraged and motivated by my family, friends and peers to achieve the highest standards possible. My personal values of integrity and honesty guide my action sand motivate me to achieve for myself rather than for the sake of others. Like several of the photojournalists mentioned, part of what motivates me is my job, wealth, and my purpose as a student. Whether uncomfortable, lengthy, daunting or scary, I am motivated by eventual success and positive outcomes to push myself to achieve great things. Finally, health, fun and love are factors that make me who I am and encourage me to do what I love doing for the sake of pure enjoyment. This aspect mirrors closely with the ideas of Coyne as he works as a photojournalist because it is his passion. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Photojournalism Bias

Image Source:
Image By: Ed Clark
Year: 1945
“Going Home”, a photograph taken by Ed Clark of a young black man playing as a part of the funeral train for Franklin Roosevelt, is emotional to say the least. I initially spent some time looking at the image prior to reading the caption. In doing this I immediately felt compassion for the man. As he stands in his uniform playing on the accordion it is clear that he is distraught, but plays with pride. The way that he continues to play as tears are visibly streaming down his cheeks suggested to me that he may have been playing for someone else. Noticing the woman most directly to his left and seeing her crying and burying her face I failed to notice what many other people may have noticed right away; all of the women in the background are white. Judging by their clothes and hair, the picture appears to have been from a time where race was a touchy subject in our country. After noticing this, I looked more closely and saw that while some of the women were upset, others appeared to be more turned off by the man playing and crying than whichever event was saddening others. This aspect gives the picture more dimension as it now becomes clear that the man is making a statement and standing out of his comfort zone to support something he cares deeply about. After reading the caption I imagine that the man is very proud to serve his country, and felt overwhelming patriotism following the loss of the president. Due to the magnitude of racial segregation at the time, many of the women may be displeased with his public display of emotion and they felt he did not deserve to feel saddened as “white people did”, because the president was not in fact black. As Professor Nordell mentioned in the video for this module, "Perspective and history determines a reaction to a particular image". The caption and the image together evoke many feelings that may not have surfaced had I only seen one or the other. The impact of both of them together is substantial.

Principle 1: Subject’s Expression
The expression of the main subject of the photo, the black man, is what the eye is first drawn to when you look at this picture. His face is full of emotion. You can tell that the man is struggling to keep it together, the tears stream down his cheeks and his face is strained as if he could break down entirely at any second.

Principle 2: What feelings does the image create?
The image is a very emotional one. I felt sad and empathetic for the obvious sadness and loss that the main subject is expressing through his face and tears. I felt displeased at the racial judgment and segregation that is evident. Additionally, the image made me curious as prior to reading the caption, I did not know the context of what else was happening outside of the image frame.

 Principle 3: Background compliments the composition
The background of the image helps to convey the message and compliment the expression of the main subject. While some of the women in the background appear as sad as the man, others look judgmental and displeased with his presence and music playing. The background helps to give setting and history to the foreground.

Image Source:
Image By: Amy Carr
Year: 2011
This image, taken of a young couple at what is likely their wedding reception, represents the truth. The photographer captured the couple’s expressions and the mood of the environment in a single candid frame. Contrary to the majority of pictures taken at weddings which are staged and edited, this black and white image captures a perfect moment with little or no manipulation from the photographer. The perspective utilized by the photographer suggests that the couple was unaware that the image was being taken. The joy and happiness on their faces as they celebrate is unremarkably natural.
To determine that this image is truthful I relied on my own sensation ad perception skills. According to the article on the ways of knowing, "you know certain things because you can see and perceive them yourself". In combination with the concept of emotion, it was very evident as soon as i saw this picture that there was no way it could have been staged or edited. Looking at the image I could press play in my mind and the couple would continue laughing and enjoying themselves. In this module, Shahidul Alam said "photojournalists want to make the good news happen". Considering that along with a quote from Professor Nordell as he commented "I wouldn’t want to photograph somebody in a way that I wouldn’twant to be photographed" this image encompasses all things good about candid photo taking. The photographer could have captured any moment during the reception, however he or she picked this instant. The couple is happy and will likely see this image and cherish it. 

Principle 1: Quality of Light
Being that this image is in black and white, it is very easy to identify what aspects of the photo have more light than others. The couple is clearly in a well light room as the light is reflecting off of their faces as well as off of the candle flames on the table before them. The light is good quality, and helps to assist the subject’s expressions in conveying the mood of the image.

Principle 2: Use of Thirds
The image is divided into thirds from top to bottom in this instance. The subjects clearly take up the center of the photo, falling more dominantly into the middle third. The lower and upper thirds being comprised of flowers and the wall background help to ensure that the subject of the photo is on the couple’s faces.

Principle 3: Depth of Field
Depth of the field is important in this image because it allows the couple to appear as though they have been brought forward for the viewer. The background windows and curtains are out of focus and very clearly far enough behind the couple that they are out of the way. Though you cannot tell precisely how far the windows are from the table, the photographer captured the distance using depth of the field. 

Image Source:
Image By: Unknown
This image, of Ashton Kutcher at a professional basketball game shows him seemingly disinterested as he looks down at his phone. Though a cheerleader or dancer stands in a portion of the screen, the image doesn't allow for a decisive look at what is happening on the court at that time. This image, I believe, is a misrepresentation of the truth. In the picture it suggests that Kutcher cares more about what is on his phone screen than what is happening in the game. The photographer captured him in a moment which, if considered by itself, implies that he cares nothing about the basketball game despite being a spectator in the stands. Had the photograph been a better representation of the truth, it would have utilized an angle that allowed the audience to see what else was happening at the time of the shot. The perspective and timing of the photojournalist set the tone of the picture, rather than allowing the context of Kutcher’s environment to display whether he was on his phone during the game, or during a timeout or halftime.
To determine that this image was a misrepresentation of the truth I considered the concepts of "Language/Authority" and "Emotion" from Oliver Kim's article on "The Four Ways of Knowing". In the article Kim suggests that language and authority can be a source of knowledge if someone has suggested an idea to you that you have now deemed a frame of reference for your own thinking. In considering this picture, I remembered the idea that being on your cell phone at a professional sporting even would be rude. Though the picture may suggest that Kutcher is on his phone while the game is going on, my authority from my parents leads me to hope that the photojournalist may have simply taken the picture while there was a timeout, and Kutcher may not have been being rude at all though not evident based on this frame. Additionally, the emotion on his face does not lead me to believe that he is invested in whats going on in the game. Kim's article says that "emotion allows for you to know that things are ethically not right". Emotion conveyed by him, and my own concepts of ethics hopes that there was not actual basketball happening at the time of the photograph. Had the photographer implored a different angle,  the picture may have become more truthful as the viewer would have been able to identify exactly what else was happening aside from Kutcher being on his cell phone.
The distortion and bias of images and perspective, although sometimes entirely wrong and hurtful can be used deliberately in photojournalism in order to evoke a particular feeling or response. In the article about yellow journalism from sparknotes, the author said "The whole point of yellow journalism was to produce exciting, sensational stories, even if the truth had to be stretched or a story had to be made up. These stories would boost sales." Whether or not yellow journalism was "right", it was effective. That same idea is employed by photographers and photojournalists today. As Shahidul Alam discussed in the video, A story has many truths at many levels”. This picture of Kutcher can be viewed in many perspectives depending on the amount of information given regarding context and timing. The decision to omit part of the image gives viewers such as myself falsified ideas about what was really happening when the photographer took the picture. Geoff Dyer, author of "The Ongoing Moment" had a quote to accompany Ed Clark's "Going Home" image. He said, What we have, in other words, is a vivid example of thecamera’s unique capability: not the creation of a myth but its depiction”. The camera, and subsequently the photojournalist has chosen the perspective, the technique, and the angle of the shot, consequently creating their own bias and depiction of the event. While not necessarily a myth, the shot may also not encompass a whole truth either. 

Principle 1: Keep it Simple
The picture is fairly simple in the sense that there is one main subject centered in the photo. The background of the picture is not distracting from the main subject despite the fact that it is busy with many people’s faces. In the foreground, the only other person is out of focus which makes it easier to see the man as the true subject of the image.

Principle 2: Is the photograph in black and white or color?
The photograph is in color, though the colors are mainly black and white. The color in the subject’s hat and the color of the dancer’s skirt are the only things that truly stand out from the rest of the color-scape.

Principle 3: In and out of focus
The photograph utilizes both in focus and out of focus aspects. The main subject is in focus, but the dancer, slightly offset to the right is clearly blurred. This out of focus effect helps to display that she is moving, and also assists in directing the viewer’s eye to the main subject who is slightly behind the legs of the dancer. Had the dancer been in focus, the true centerpiece of the image may have been less easy to identify.

Friday, June 14, 2013

photojournalism ethical dilemmas

                There is often a fine line between telling the truth, and going too far. The same can be true for the ethics of photojournalism. While the purpose of the profession is to “expose the truth” in the sense that images allow real life events o be captured and shared with the world, often times, the truth can hurt and may be better left documented in a more subtle way. In an image captured by Paul Hansen in 2010, this question of photojournalism ethics becomes especially applicable. This image is of a 15 year old girl shot and killed by police officers in Haiti. It is speculated that the girl was shot intentionally as police believe that she was a “looter” however no evidence can prove that she was steeling, or that the shots were intentional. The image shows the girl lying on a building, bleeding from the head on top of several framed pictures. It is a gruesome display of a tragic event. The girl is only 15, she is visibly dead, bleeding from the skull. Other images released of the girl from another angle show additional photographers crowding around to capture the event. Furthermore, the image captured by Hansen later won an award at the Sweedish Picture of the Year Awards for “Best International News Image”. 
Image Source:
Image By: Paul Hansen
Image Date: 2010
                Controversy erupted in the news about whether or not the image should have been displayed at all considering the age of the victim. Many people exclaimed that there were plenty of images that documented that tragedy of the disaster occurring at that time, and that this girl and her family deserved privacy. Others felt that the true controversy came later when the image won the award. Another question of ethics was considered as images surfaced of the father carrying his dead daughter over his shoulder, clearly distraught. Many more considered the ethical question to come from the image that displayed other photojournalists crowding around the girl trying to each “get their shot”. Regardless of the perspective, many people around the world were displeased with the distribution of this photograph. 

Image Source:
Image By: Nathan Weber
Image Date: 2010
                This image also touched on another aspect of controversy that was discussed in this module. After the image became a news story, and additional images of the event were released, it became evident that the original photo by Hansen made use of a wide angle lens, allowing the perspective and subsequently that power of the photo to change from its original form. Other photos, like the one showing additional photographers in the background were described as “more real” and “true photojournalism” because they described the event from a snapshot perspective, rather than as a story. Additionally, during the time between the original image, and the later ones, the body position of the girl changed. Though some people speculated that this was the doing of news reporters and photojournalists to convey a specific feeling, the original photographer, Hansen, later explained that the girl had been moved by the looters who came to search her body and steal from her pockets after she was killed. Many people however believe that the girl’s position was altered for image purposes which only increased the controversy of the image. 
                While I understand that the image helps to convey the tragedy if the event and display what was happening at the time, I struggle to accept that the image is ethical. The photojournalists are just doing their job by documenting the event, but my heart is torn as I think of how this girl will be remembered and seen by the world. I feel for her family, though it has been reported that they gave consent for the image to be released. In a news article from "The Guardian" her father described her as “very intelligent; her head was full of knowledge”, yet people will not know her for that. There are no pictures of her smiling, enjoying life, being with her friends and family, only these pictures of her tragic death. The ethics of this picture impede on my values of privacy and the rights that individuals have to sharing emotional aspects of their lives. Photojournalism such as this image may achieve the goal of exposing current events, but it also exposed parts of that girls life which are better left to her family. 

Image Source:
Image By: Oliver Laban Mattei
Image Date: 2010 

Ethics Map
Photo and Image Source: Nicole Dufresne 

Additional Resources:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Women in photojournalism - trials and triumphs

image source:
Image by: unknown
    Grete Stern was born in Germany to a Jewish family in 1904. Beginning her interest in photography at a young age she went on to study graphic design in school. Following her formal education she moved to Berlin in 1927 where she met Otto Umbehr who directed her to take private photography lessons with well-known photographer Walter Peterhans. It was there that she met Ellen Auerbach, an eventual friend and business partner. After working in London for several years Stern married and emigrated to Argentine with her new husband. It was there in 1948 that she was hired by a women’s magazine to “illustrate” the dreams that readers of the magazine (mainly housewives) submitted. The result of her work was a series of about one hundred and fifty photomontages that showed her unconventional spirit. The photos which she used in the magazine portrayed women's oppression and submission in Argentine society. Though generally sarcastic and unrealistic, they represented the feeling of the women in that society.
              Stern's photomontages reflected women in psychologically distressing situations. She was true to the stories of dreams that the respondents submitted, but never in a way that suggested any sort of compromise with female sexual boundaries: no prostitution, no female sexual activism, and, certainly, no lesbianism. From this, readers had an honest and true sense of the images as they represented the dreams of the real-life women. Keeping in mind the fact that the narrative perspective of these photomontages is that of women telling their own story, the compromising situations in which they find themselves according to Stern’s images are those that are imposed upon them by the world in which they live. Knowing this, it is not surprising to find that the vast majority of the photographs emphasize the power of controlling, threatening, and violent men; in some cases, by a society as a whole, on the lives of the women in the pictures.
               Grete Stern lived in a time where woman were constantly discriminated. Though gender based discrimination did not directly affect Stern to a great extent, it did for many of the other women photojournalists in this module content. Stern’s magazine, as well as the work of other women photojournalists of the time allowed females to express the importance of women in the working class and the feminist movement. Despite the course of history having come around to the idea of women in the workplace, there are instances and occupations even today that are dominated by one gender rather than another. For example, most police officers, firefighters, and prison guards are men, but other professions such as nursing, elementary education and social work are dominated by females. Though these professions are not exclusive to one gender or another, the suggestion is ever present. Bella Abzug said it well when she was quoted as saying, “The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes”. Despite criticism, setbacks and probably several missed opportunities because of gender bias Stern said, “Photography has given me great happiness. I learned a lot and was able to say things I wanted to say and show”. Sometimes, it’s not about what everyone else thinks.

Image Source:
Image by: Grete Stern
Date Taken: 1931
Principle 1: What feelings does the image create?
The image is hard to look at. The veil covering the person's eyes makes her mysterious and unapproachable. Looking at the picture it makes me want to know more about what was happening at the time, but without having to ask the woman from the pciture. The image is like a large question mark.    

Principle 2: Subject's expression
The subjects expression in the photo is also a bit hard to read. The line of her mouth suggests little expression of happiness or saddness. Her eyes appear sharp despite their covering from the veil. I feel as though the woman might have been watching someone or thinking.    

Principle 3: Use of lines
The use of lines in this photo is plentiful. The outline of the woman's face along with the lines in both the veil and the feathers behind her head give the image depth and shape. 

I picked this image because when looking through her collection, it stood out to me. I was intrigued by her expression and the fact that in comparison to her other photos this one featured a very zoomed in face which interested me. 

Image Source:
Image By: Grete Stern
Date Taken: 
Principle 1: Texture
The texture that stood out to me in this image were the eyelashes. With choppy dark shadows in the lower aspect of the picture, the eyelashes appear soft and delicate. It adds dimension to the image.  
Principle 2: Use of Light 
Light in this photo is obviously coming from above and shining down on the top of the person's eye. It casts a shadow on the rocks and hands below and makes it seem like the hands are reaching up toward something rathe rthan just he top of the frame.
Principle 3: Black and White 

Finally the use of black and white for this photo contributes to its effect. If the photograph was in color it may have been too much to look at. The black and white allows the viewer to focus on the content without the distraction of colors. I believe the black and white effect also helps to convey the emotion in the eye.
I chose this picture of Stern's because I liked how the light came down through the eyelashes. Though the other half of the picture is slightly abstract and unique, the eye is simple and filled with emotion which drew me to the picture. 

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