Are phones killing photojournalism?


I dare you to find someone who does not have a camera on their phone. With how popular smart phones are, it’s next to impossible. Even my 90-year-old grandpa’s flip phone has a camera on it (not that he knows how to use it).

Since camera phones are so popular, there is usually always someone around who can take a photo of an even right as it happens.

There are a lot more everyday people with camera phones than there are photojournalists. The exact moment when an event occurs, it is much more likely that someone with a camera phone will be there versus a photojournalist waiting to get the shot.

I do not think an amateur with an iPhone will be able to completely replace a professional photojournalist. The quality and composition of a professionally shot photo will never go out of style; People will always want to see that, but it’s not always an option.

If we look back on 9/11 and the coverage of the event, you can find tons of beautifully shot, powerful images expression the horror everyone felt that day, or showcasing the bravery of some American heroes.

However, there are shaky, blurry videos and images shot by people just walking along the street that we are shown over and over again, because these images captured the exact moment that the first plane hit the North Tower.

No one knew this was going to happen, so no professional photojournalists were on assignment or expecting to cover the first tower, like they were for events later than day and week.

Back in 2001, camera phones were not even available. Most of the videos and images of the first tower were shot with digital cameras. If this event occurred 2014 instead of 2001, there would be a lot more coverage because everyone has a camera phone they can just whip out.

Not only are the availability of camera phones decreasing the need for photojournalists, but social media is making it extremely simple to share these images with the world. You no longer need to work for TIME Magazine for everyone to see your photos, you can just share it on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook.

Still, photojournalists will always be needed. There are some places your Average Joe with an iPhone will not be able or willing to go to. There are very few people brave enough to do what James Foley did, for example. However, camera phones are cutting down this need for photojournalists, since they are proving to be better at documenting breaking, unexpected news.