In short, Photojournalism is about telling the world a story that happened through photographs. It can be about capturing sports events, economic forums, a country’s political situation, urban lifestyle, or even everyday things. There is a difference between how photojournalism today works, and how it is done a few decades ago. The role of a photojournalist in the 21st century has changed from a creator of fact-based images to a creator and a story-spreader.
There are two factors that played an important role. First and foremost, as technology progress, almost everyone can produce pictures and manipulate pictures. Therefore, according to Julianne H Newton (The Burden of Visual Truth), in the late 20th century, people begin to believe that ‘many things that seemed to be visually true were not’. In other words, technology gives great power and responsibility. A photojournalist’s work now is not merely using the camera in a technical sense. Once the image has been created, photojournalists must be aware of how it is going to be viewed and consumed within the social context.
Furthermore, photojournalism is a powerful weapon to influence others. It can be used to reveal the photographers’ points of view, create notions, share perspective, and reminding the universality of basic human values. In Indonesia, for example, people are easily triggered by pictures that were taken in the Middle East countries. What comes in people’s mind about the Middle East has always been about war and religion related conflicts because of the images and the narrative shown in most of the mainstream media. When I visited Israel and Palestine in 2015, I saw that things were not what it seems to be. There, I celebrated Christmas with many people, regardless of their religious and origins background –that told me a story about diversity and tolerance. Photojournalists nowadays are asked to be able to build narrative stories that inspire, influence, and move others.
In conclusion, Photojournalism is a form of journalism that is beyond mere images. It preaches a story; it has significant role to make an impact. As John Taylor (Problems in Photojournalism) said, in the end, photojournalism helps to confirm beliefs and hopes.
— Denty Piawai Nastitie —
A journalist of Kompas daily, Jakarta, Indonesia
Student of Diploma in Visual Journalism — The Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University