Photojournalists play such an important role in our world, perhaps beginning most significantly in the early 1960’s, when photographs created that initial news message for everyone to see in their street newspapers and magazines. As time has passed and technology has developed the power of images across social media has become stronger and even more powerful. These images are used to tell a story, create a story, give emphasis to a story and often shock with their intrinsic power.
Legendary photographer Steve Schapiro, who sadly passed away this year on 15th January was one of the masters of photojournalism, leaving a wonderful legacy as one of America’s most acclaimed photojournalists.
As a civil rights photojournalist his messages were impactful and influential in spreading important news messages across the world. His images were published in some of the world’s most popular publications, from Time, Vanity Fair, People, Rolling Stone to Paris Match and Life to name just a few. In 1970 he was also known for his work as a stills photographer for classic films such as Taxi Driver, The Way We Were and The Godfather. Schapiro documented one of the most important civil rights movements in the US with passion and an insight that only the best photojournalist can capture. Schapiro no doubt had his own strong political beliefs and his images display this with sensitive understanding of the times, where he wanted to convey a message with honesty and integrity.
Photojournalists work can instantly translate messages to everyone with their artistic expression. The photographs are so important as they allow the viewer to see the images and take their interpretation of the message. When we view shots of activists or political leaders we probably already have our own opinions on them and their views, but a photograph can still alter our interpretations. Maybe we see a softer side, a moment of vulnerability or aggression or anger we hadn’t realised existed. Is it true that photographs never lie? Certainly, a photograph enables us to make our own decisions, words are so much more subjective but the artistic truth of a photograph means a moment is captured and that moment can speak a thousand words to the broadest range of people.
However it is not only political movements that are so importantly expressed in the world of photojournalists but even everyday life, how we live, where we live, cultures and society and the everyday mundane world are also importantly captured in the work of talented photojournalists.
Photojournalist David Hicks
David Hicks is a photojournalist who does just this, where he confesses his work is where ‘Art journalism meets social comment’ – ‘ I have no wish to photograph war, strife and suffering. It doesn’t interest me … what I like is the banal things in life. I like wandering the streets and marvelling about how we, human beings, live. I like looking at things others would consider dreary’ .
Hicks honesty is telling in his work and tells the story of people from across the world, where cultures and societies live in so many different ways, but each one as telling and important in the tapestry of our incredible world and the diversity of people that make it work.
These days we are surrounded by potential photojournalists, where everyone has the ability and frequently does, use their phones to capture moments that can be instantly shared across social media. For the celebrity this has its good and bad sides, certainly it has limited the impact of the paps but also potentially made them more vulnerable for those that wish to invade their privacy.
However it is not as simple as many may think to take those important and impactful photographs, it takes a skill and vision that only the best photojournalists intrinsically possess. The unobtrusive nature of a photojournalist is paramount in the message they then convey, it is not contrived or controlled, but honest and fleeting. Not only to technically take the best image considering light, angles, movement etc but also to know just that moment when to click, when to capture, those moments Hicks says others may find dreary and yet as a talented photojournalist he manages to take and create a story. He tells the story of his protagonists with interest and passion. They can invoke for the viewer empathy, sympathy, humour, admiration and even love. The power of importance of photojournalist will always be vital to our understanding of the world, its events and people. These images tell the most honest and easily translated messages and these days this message can be shared in so many ways so quickly that this art form is really one of the most important skills and roles in the world of art media for keeping us all informed whilst allowing everyone to ultimately make their own final decision on how they will translate the photograph they see in front of them.
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