Parkland victims reflect one year later


The New York Times published an article on Feb. 14 remembering the Parkland Incident. It is the one-year anniversary since the devastating and heartbreaking shooting that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Fla. The article written by Patricia Mazzei is beautifully written since it not only outlines the horrific events that happened this day but also shows the lasting impact one year later. 

In the article, photographs are taken by Eve Edelheit. These photographs I believe are the strongest element of this article and why photography is so important in journalism. In a series of interviews nine members from the Stoneman Douglas community including students, teachers, police officers and parents reflect on this tragic event a year later. In each segment of the article there is a photo of the person interviewed and beneath is their story. 

I love the way Mazzei approaches this matter because instead of writing an article explaining all the horrible events that occurred that day again— she let the people who actually experienced it be able to shine and tell their story. Reading these stories are extremely impactful hearing all the different things these people had to go through. It is important to know these stories because after this school shooting occurred, many citizens wanted to see a change but shootings in America and around the world continue today. 

The photographs are mostly candid, showing the true emotions the person felt. This article felt very raw and that I could relate to these people interviewed on an emotional and personal level even though I haven’t been what they have been through. It shows again and again the courage people have when violence outbursts occur and how we all must come together in order to remain strong. I hope journalism continues to use this approach of photography and journalism merged together because it makes the article and the story itself more relatable and interesting. 

Woman in 9/11 photo hires photographer


A woman in a famous photograph and the man who took the picture reunited on her wedding day, 17 years later.

On the tragic day of 9/11, photographer Phil Penman snapped a historic photograph in which Joanne Capestro is shown moments after escaping the 87th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York, where she worked as an executive assistant. Seventeen years later, the woman in the famous photograph contacted Phil Penman to have him as her wedding photographer.

The image on 9/11 captured by Penman is well recognized because of the details and rawness that are noticed in the photo. In an article written by Nicole Darrah, published by Fox News, the popular photograph is described, “Capestro and her friend, who are seen covered in debris, ash and dirt”.

Joanne Capestro wanted to employ Penman as her wedding photographer so that he would be with her on “the best day of my life and the worst day of my life” said Capestro.

Fox News reported this emotional story in a respectable way since the article is based on such a sensitive topic and sad memory. The story shows the beauty and bond between two people that came along over time after experiencing something so tragic and unforgettable.

Seventeen years later, surviver of 9/11, Joanne Capestro, stood alongside Penman in a moment of happiness and joy.

An inside look at North Korea


This week, a London tourist has illustrated the power a picture holds by giving a face to the people living in the world’s most restrictive country — North Korea.

Amateur photographer Michal Huniewicz posted two sets of photographs on his blog documenting his time in North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang.

The pictures have been shared on his Facebook, Twitter, a variety of Instagram accounts and new sites such as CNN.

The significance of these smuggled photos comes from the strict rules governing tourist photography in North Korea. The bulk images and videos the public sees are products of the government.

While the majority of Huniewicz’s photos were acceptable, he admitted that some were taken against the wishes of his guides or as he calls them, his “government minders.”

The timing of the photos release could not be more perfect. Recently, North Korea has been receiving more news media attention than usual as it continues to develop its nuclear program and face sanctions from the United Nations. It is crucial now more than ever that the rest of the world grasp that behind Kim Jong-un, there are millions of helpless people.

In a culture where criticism of society’s growing news media dependence is often harsh, Huniewicz’s collection shows how powerful a tool it is, particularly social media. It shows that we cannot take for granted the ability to freely capture and share photos. It is a tool that helps protect against the human rights violations that are rampant in North Korea.

Furthermore, North Korea may be one of the few places in the world where everyday life has been practically untouched by the outside media. Huniewicz’s photographs and his accompanying narrative help to better show the restrictions of life living under a dictatorship. Censorship was rampant during his trip and Huniewicz’s noted that many of the sights felt staged.

“You have to be fast. Soon we noticed that while Pyongyang is meant to be a utopian showcase for foreign visitors … there are more glamorous bits, and there are less glamorous bits. What’s more, our mute driver was perfectly aware of this, so he would conveniently slow down whenever the surroundings were impressive, and speed up whenever they were less pleasant, to make them less pleasant,” Huniewicz wrote on his blog.

The majority of Huniewicz’s photos are scenes from everyday life that have the eerie look of being performed. Tour groups are not allowed to go anywhere, or even be left alone, without their guides. And it seems as though everyone is in on the act.

For more of Huniewicz’s collection of photos from all his travels, visit his website.

Humanizing the numbers


Humans of New York is a blog led by one photographer, Brandon Stanton, who features pictures he took of people along with a few interview questions. In recent years, his site has become increasingly popular, having 15.2 million Facebook likes and 3.8 million followers on his Instagram. His posts became so popular that he compiled his first book of photographs and profiles published in 2013.

He began taking photos of people in New York, where the website’s name comes from, and writing short profiles based on questions he would ask them in a question and answer type format, or a big quote.

Stanton’s first goal was to catalog New York City’s inhabitants. However, as he began asking them questions, a great amount of character and human strife was captured with each individual story. He then began posting his profiles on different social media and as more people saw, it began to humanize the busy world that we see rushing around us.

In December 2012, Stanton traveled to Tehran, Iran, to capture stories there. His posts give people a chance to see another person’s intimate life from across the world and gives perspective to those who have more peninsular minds. His posts often feature innate emotional pain but with good reason and usually a lesson. The majority of his posts feature positive or funny stories, highlighting how people make the best of their situation.

Stanton’s blog has become much more than simple photo posts. He captures humanity and bolsters it to all who can access social media. He shows his followers human life in its rawest form.

On Sept. 25, Stanton posted on his website that he is currently working to share refugee stories. While we hear of the numbers of refugees around the world, the total being 19.5 million, Stanton humanizes these numbers and brings more awareness through a real connection with his photographs. His work should be adapted by media companies in order to paint the picture of what is really happening; of the true suffering that is occurring rather than sticking to numbers, each political move, and the economic toll.

The human lives that are being affected triumph the numbers that are being drawn up. Creating a human connection brings knowledge and awareness of the pain of the refugees and can streamline a better force to help them.

The media are focusing too much on the big picture which does not accrue as much obligation to assistance as human connection. People need to connect with refugees in order to harbor a true sense of what is going on and hopefully pursue efforts of help them.

Images of refugees in Europe unsettling


For the past week, news organizations around the world have been covering the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, all of which are highlighting the differences among countries who either welcome these desperate migrants or those who don’t. More recent news stories have been covering the somber deaths and despair of these refugees. These stories have brought up the issue as to whether or not the U.S. should be doing more in its efforts during this European crisis.

What I found most interesting about this coverage is that, it lies parallel to the ongoing issues our country is debating at the present time during the 2016 political campaign. I’m talking about the controversial issue of the Mexico and U.S. border. News coverage has been all over this issue but we are seeing that the biggest migrant crisis is not happening in the U.S., but the European Union.

One story in particular drew attention to the migrant crisis in Europe not only for me but the entire country. Images of a 3-year-old refugee washed ashore lifeless. I found it inhumane to post these images for the world to see. While others had hoped that the images of the boy would be a turning point in the debate over how to help during this crisis.

This issue brings up the debate on what one will do in order to send a message. This crisis has spurred a variety of responses throughout its coverage. Many news organizations from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal has been debating on whether or not to use the jarring images. Its editors opted to go for a less jarring image, but one that was powerful and brings enormity to the tragedy. This has been and issue for news publications since the beginning. How far can you go for a story without it being offensive, yet will create an impact and emotion? We will continue to see more images and news on this crisis. It will be interesting to see the different opinions on this issue in the coming weeks.

Images, videos in news tell stories


Severe weather. Violent crimes. Jaw-dropping plays. Sure, reading descriptions about these things are great, but think about how much pictures and videos take these to the next level. We’re able to witness the news with our own eyes, without having to rely solely on the words of a journalist, and that’s an incredible thing. 150407-walter-scott-shooting-mn-1915_49a17602bafad4aeb9048146c298c361

Take the recent occurrence in South Carolina, for example. A man was fatally shot by a police officer, creating an uproar within the community and across the country.

With the power of video, people around the world were able to see this disturbing event in plain view. This will help the public learn the facts rather than be fed rumors, because video doesn’t lie.

Images are an extremely powerful tool in journalism. They tell a story and capture moments that we would have otherwise missed. They let us learn the truth without risk of false information. They’re candid, real and often shocking.

Without them, journalism would run the risk of being bland or uninteresting. As can be seen in the photo to the right, images are a vital tool in journalism that not only back a journalist’s words, but also significantly add to them and enhance the experience for the reader.

Racist undertones of Paper photos


Thanks to social media and the Internet, by now most people are familiar with Kim Kardashians “Break the Internet” movement and photos from her cover and spread in Paper magazine.

While some people are either laughing at the photos and creating mocking memes or accusing the magazine of using Photoshop, there is a deeper underlying issue regarding the overall concept of the shoot.

imageAs confirmed by the editorial director of the magazine, renowned French photographer Jean-Paul Goude’s shoot with Kardashian was aimed at recreating his own work.

Jean-Paul Goode wanted to recreate his famous 1976 ”Champagne Incident” photo from a book entitled: “Jungle Fever,” which originally featured nude black model, Carolina Beaumont.

His original 1976 “Champagne Incident” photo was said to evoke the image of Saartjie Baartman.

imageSaartjie “Sarah” Baartman was a black South African woman brought to London in the 19th century and displayed for her large buttocks.

Baartman was the most famous of at least two Khoikhoi women who were exhibited as freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe.

Jean-Paul Goude has a long history of using women of color in outrageous, over-sexualized and sometimes animalistic depictions for his pictures. Some people find that his shoot with Kim continues in that long tradition of blatantly flirting with racism.

The editorial director of Paper magazine has commented to confirm Photoshop rumors, but he still will not comment on the race issue allegations of the spread.

We need to be fact checking photos, too


Part of being a journalist is knowing how to check your facts before you publish an article stating that the facts are true. You make sure they came from a reliable source and, if possible, that other sources agree with this information.

But how do you check the credibility of a photo you want to publish? Do you even need to?

“A pictures worth a thousand words,” the expression goes. So, photos should be showing you what the facts are, because it’s right there on the screen for you to see. However, digital photography and Photoshop are making it nearly impossible to find a photo that has not been edited in some way.

Correcting color, brightness, contrast and other technical details is expected of photographers. These details, however, do not impact the content of the photo, just the quality.

Now, it is so easy for anyone with basic Photoshop skills to edit in something that was not originally there, or erase something that was. This makes it extremely difficult to tell what is real and what is exaggerated.

If you publish a photo that has been altered, you are supposed to specify that the content has been changed, but is it really possible to regulate that? If you find a free domain image you want to attach onto an article, how do you know if it has been altered?

The digital age is making it easier to share and show what’s going on all over the world, but it is also making it harder to believe our own eyes.

War without the difficult photos


Come the mid-19th century in America, among all of the social changes, political shifts, and uproars, the first footage of war was recorded. It was the Civil War and the photographs taken began to break down the glorification of all war had been played out to be.

Nowadays, the photo on the front cover of a newspaper can make or break the story during wartime. The American public is a sensitive one and, in turn, the American media is very strict in what it publishes and what it does not.

So, in a war zone where there are almost no limitations to what one can capture, I ask: When is an image considered too gory, insensitive and, to an extent, a breach of privacy? Does holding back this kind of photography blind the American public from the tragedies of war? And is it hard to calculate the photographer’s absence during war?

On Feb. 28, 1991, American photojournalist Kenneth Jarecke stood in front of a horrid sight: a charred man who had been engulfed in flames, trying to escape his vehicle. He snapped the shot. The man was an Iraqi soldier and had fought for Saddam Hussein’s army during the Gulf War when Kuwait was annexed. Time Magazine and The Associated Press dismissed the hypnotizing image, saving Americans from confronting the excruciating brutality of war and ultimately, spitting up their morning coffee.

For Jarecke, who had taken the photo in the midst of endless ceasefire, who had put his life on the line, who had captured the ugly to captivate those sitting pretty, he was left confused. In an interview with The Atlantic, he said: “When you have an image that disproves the myth (of a clean, uncomplicated war), then you think it’s going to be widely published.”

These photos that Jarecke and countless others in countless other wars have taken not only serve the media to inform and to shock, but serve history as a sort of reminder and lesson. And what good is a lesson when you can’t learn from it?

At the same time, however, does the photojournalist go too far sometimes? In this world where tragedies occur in the blink of a second and photographs can be captured in the blink of a millisecond, Jarecke and his contemporaries must grapple with the moral dilemma of: “do I take the picture?” Because to the photojournalist, the moment of hesitation is not due so much to the fact that they’ll worry how the media or audience will react, but instead, due to the fact that they’ll worry how those they are capturing will react. The photojournalist has much at stake here: his reputation, his humanity, his decency, his values, his sanity.

Later, in American Photo magazine, Jarecke wrote: “I wasn’t thinking at all about what was there; if I had thought about how horrific the guy looked I wouldn’t have been able to make the picture.”

To take the photographer out of the battle would surely tell a different story about it. And I can only hope that, one day, the power of photos will stump the power of war.

If your curiosity was piqued, here is the photo that inspired this blog:

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.

Just how much do we need to know?


For journalists, reporting involves deciding what is newsworthy as well as what is ethical.

Such considerations are currently up for debate surrounding the dissemination of the video of journalist James Foley’s beheading by ISIS last month. Some argue that the video should not be banned as such censorship infringes on First Amendment rights. Others see the video as too gruesome and say it only gives ISIS the publicity they so strongly desire.

The first question to be asked is, Is the story newsworthy? Since it involves human rights and terrorism it is indeed a story of public interest. Furthermore, the ISIS militant in the video gives a “message to America” explaining that Foley’s death is the result of U.S. military intervention so it is of public concern for American citizens and residents.

But is sharing the footage ethical and even necessary for telling the story?

Death is a personal experience. A devout Catholic, Foley spoke of prayer on multiple occasions. For Foley, the moments leading up to his death were likely very spiritual, which is often considered a private matter. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, people should be aided to “live their last moments in dignity and peace.”

The revisiting of his barbaric execution by viewers is not respecting the emphasis his faith places on having a peaceful death. And while it was most certainly an honorable death, I doubt it to be the moment by which Foley would like to be remembered.

While in the moments leading to his death Foley would not have had any expectation of privacy since he was aware of ISIS’ motivation in filming it, this cannot be used as grounds for arguing that he forfeited his right to privacy. Foley had no choice.

On Aug. 20, the day after Foley’s murder, the New York Post published a picture of Foley with the ISIS militant holding the knife blade to his throat moments before making the fatal cut. There is no question that this blatant display went much too far.

While the inclusion of such pictures on pages deep within a newspaper may be up for debate, featuring them on the front page is inexcusable. Cover pages do not give the option for viewer discretion. Just as there are laws protecting children from exposure to obscene material, should this graphic image be accessible to the eyes of young children walking to school?

Sure, a New York Post reporter didn’t film the event and therefore can’t be blamed for the act of invasion of privacy, but is a news organization’s decision to disseminate it equally at fault?

The decision of whether the material containing graphic visuals should be public comes down to deciding whether the gory footage of Foley’s death is a ‘need to know’ or a ‘want to know’ situation.

Media ‘Photoshopping’ bill proposed


It’s no secret that fashion campaigns and celebrity photo-shoots aren’t released to the public until every aspect is perfected through the art of Photoshop. People in the media look flawless and are usually airbrushed from head to toe.

An example of a Photoshopped image (Courtesy of Google images)

An example of a Photoshopped image (Courtesy of Google images)

Although certain companies like American Eagle are attempting to break through this long-used system and tradition of heavily Photoshopping models and celebrities to make them look impossibly perfect, there are still far too many companies using these techniques.

Youth nowadays are very impressionable, and the percentage of eating disorders and self harm among teens is unfortunately not getting any lower. This issue doesn’t only affect youth, as it can be applicable to people of all ages, even surpassing gender barriers.

People are being exposed to unattainable images of beauty, as they are fabricated through technology and appear almost inhuman. Some bodies are skewed to the point where it is scientifically and biologically impossible.

In an effort to reconcile the wrongs that Photoshop is causing in modern-day society, lawmakers have co-sponsored a bi-partisan bill that would make misleading Photoshopped pictures illegal.

A before and after example of Photoshopping (Courtesy of Google images)

A before and after example of Photoshopping (Courtesy of Google images)

The bill, called the “Truth in Advertising Act,” was introduced by Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Democratic Representative Lois Capps.

This act would require the Federal Trade Commission to report on any “materially change [in] the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted.”

It would also require the regulatory body to work with health and business professionals and experts to establish a set of standardized and safe practices when it comes to altering images.

The bill’s introductory paragraph supports the aforementioned fact that these images are enabling eating disorders.

“The dissemination of unrealistic body standards has been linked to eating disorders … [and] has a particularly destructive health effect on children and teenagers.”

Capps expressed that the legislation seeks to reduce the amount of Photoshopped images on the market, as they are negatively affecting young people, especially girls.

“Just as with cigarette ads in the past, fashion ads portray a twisted, ideal image for young women,” said Capps. “And they’re vulnerable. As sales go up, body image and confidence drops.”

This bill sounds too good to be true. We’re in an age where no ad or image slips by without being retouched in some shape or form. This society is in too deep with Photoshopping, and I foresee quite a bit of backlash coming from many different sources in various industries if this bill goes through.

The trouble with using Photoshop


Photos have leaked of Lady Gaga’s Versace campaign, but they’re not the flawless, Donatella-esque images we’ve all seen. Rather, they’re the un-photoshopped versions, and the results are a little jarring.

While Gaga looks streamlined and airbrushed in the published images, she looks undoubtedly more realistic in the non-retouched pictures. She sports no makeup, chapped lips and bruises on her legs.

Target's photoshop fail to create a thigh gap (Source:

Target’s photoshop fail to create a thigh gap (Source:

Gaga's Versace campaign, unretouched (Source:

Gaga’s Versace campaign, unretouched (Source:

The perfection of the image goes against Gaga’s mantra of “Born this Way,” which celebrates the beauty in imperfection. Many publications, though, continue to Photoshop their images to obscene amounts.

Target recently put up an image on their website of a bathing suit model who has a rather rectangular area missing from her upper thigh. This was a Photoshop mishap that was created in order to give the model a “thigh gap.”

Multiple other Photoshop fails have occurred, and many are those which were created to achieve a skinner look for the models.

The heavy-handed Photoshopping of already thin models has given rise to the obsession with being thin and having a thigh gap. Tumblr, a social media blog site, has also contributed to the thigh gap obsession, as many girls reblog and post images of skeletal looking girls with the hashtag “thigh gap” and “thinspo” or thinspiration.

The problem has gotten so real that now when you search thigh gap on tumblr, a message comes up entitled, “Everything okay?” that gives numbers to eating disorder help centers.

As a mode of activism, American Eagle’s lingerie line, aerie, launched their #aerieReal Campaign, in which they vow to use real girl models of all sizes who are not retouched by Photoshop. It is such a change to see images on the computer screen that are not the idealized female form.

While I appreciate the use of real girls, I do have to say that it is better to view clothes on a more perfected image. Yet there is a difference between a little tweak here and there, and a complete disregard for humanness. Publications and companies should use Photoshop with a lighter hand.

Realty TV star lands on Vogue cover


After months of speculation, the day is finally here—Kim Kardashian is on the cover of the reputable Vogue magazine.

Yes, it’s true. A notoriously famous reality star turned model and businesswoman is posing for the most famous fashion magazine of the 21st century.

The Internet has been in frenzy from posts ranging from the overly ecstatic to the mournfully dreadful.  This is due to the star’s not-so-common start in the entertainment business, and most likely, the fact that she is posing with her fiancé, Kanye West.

Due to the Internet, fans and “haters” are able to soak up Vogues April issue with the dynamic duo through multiple platforms. These range from Twitter announcements and posts about the spread, to an in-depth video of the making of the photo shoot.

An example of said media advertising started immediately with Kim’s Instagram post on Friday. She posted onto her Instagram account stating, “This is such a dream come true!!! Thank you @VogueMagazine for this cover! O M GGGGGG!!! I can’t even breath!” The post was linked to a photograph of the magazine cover, as well as the article itself. No less than six hours later, the post has generated 547,495 “likes” and the numbers keep on rolling in.

These sources of excessive insight are the ingenious ways magazines like Vogue use social media to promote their stories instantaneously around the world. Therefore, for celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, the hysteria on social media only makes the story surface more Web sites, more smart phones, and more bank accounts.

What makes this cover story relevant is the subtle hashtag underneath the caption of the photograph, which states “#worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple.” While this statement is a vast exaggeration, the hashtag serves two purposes — a clever nod to the fact that the couple’s Instagram followers combined ad up to 20 million, as well as a subtle advertisement for the social media sites that use such hashtags so people can follow the story and discuss it in an organized fashion.

Nowadays, through the use of social media, stars as hated as they are loved like Kim Kardashian, can cover more than one platform.

Overall, business models that incorporate social media are helping everyone involved generate more business and more income, while we sit here and continue to stalk the couple’s baby, North, on Kim’s Instagram page.

Why journalists cover natural disasters


Earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes, oh my!

Natural disasters ravish through towns, destroy everything in their path, and leave people in devastating and life-threatening situations. Often, they happen with little or no warning and occur more frequently today, than they have in the past. When they do occur, most civilians seek shelter, run the opposite direction and pray they still have something for which to come back; yet such disasters are every journalists’ dream.

Maybe I shouldn’t include all journalists’ in this category and narrow it down to most photojournalists. And don’t get me wrong. The dream is not to experience the natural disaster itself, but rather, to capture the tragedy, damage and destruction after it has passed.

Since most natural disasters occur with little or no warning, one can’t just up and decide to go to Japan because a giant tsunami is occurring next Thursday (nor would one want to do so). Also, it is very difficult to be in the place of a natural disaster because they seem to happen on the opposite side of the world and can be hard to get to (the most recent natural disaster took place in the Philippines). And when they do happen, the last place ANYONE wants to be, is in the direct path of a tsunami (Could you imagine being on the beach and seeing a 50-foot wave coming ashore … if you did see that, you surely wouldn’t live to tell about it).

Most importantly natural disasters are dangerous. They cause destruction not only to physical structures but also to human beings. Many people endure injuries, go missing and are even killed. Natural disasters have a tendency of taking away and limiting resources as well. After a storm, resources become scarce; basic living essentials-food, water, and shelter-are hard to find and doctors are limited due to availability, limited medication and a continuous intake of injured people.

Though natural disasters are devastating and depressing, they produce jaw-dropping news stories and photographs. Stories capture the numerical data — the amount of damage, how many people were affected by it,-as well as continuous coverage of the recovery and reconstruction process. Photos, on the other hand, truly capture the impact and damage of the devastation in its greatest form; they allow you to place yourself in the midst of the destruction even if you’re a million miles away.

Think Hurricane Katrina (2005), the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the Japanese tsunami (2011), and, most recently typhoon Haiyan (2013) and the outbreak of tornadoes throughout the U.S. Midwest just last Sunday. I bet you remember more about the images you saw then the stories you read.

However, not all journalists are capable of experiencing the aftermath of a natural disaster. Natural disasters literally, physically, and emotionally destroy people. Journalists and photographers are faced with emotional turmoil, come across screaming children separated from their parents, witness people half-alive with missing limbs and walk around an endless number of dead bodies. Once someone experiences such devastating circumstances, they are changed forever. It takes a tough stomach and some serious perspective in order to cover such tragedies.

For those of us that do have the stomach (or at least think we do) to experience trauma, natural disasters are a chance to truly tell the story of hardship and devastation. Some of the best photographs have been those of war and natural disaster. With natural disaster comes the opportunity for the production of amazing, yet shocking, documentary photographic work.

For tips on covering natural disasters visit

Photojournalism’s future uncertain


Cameras are everywhere.

They fit in our pockets, they’re installed in our computers and even attached to our phones. What was once an expensive hobby has now become an affordable necessity. Because of the affordability and the availability, everyone who owns a camera considers themselves a photographer.

A professional photographer is someone who has spent his or her entire career as a photographer and has earned a living by taking pictures. A freelance photographer is a person who sells services (in this case images) to employers without a long-term commitment to them. An amateur photographer is a person who engages in photography as a hobby versus as a profession. In other words, they take pictures for fun.

A photojournalist can be defined as someone who communicates news through photographs. Think National Geographic. Until recently, a photojournalist was a full-time, paid position involving being sent out on assignment to cover a story similar to a reporter in  broadcast.

Now-a-days though, many magazines and newspapers have laid off their photography departments and switched from using full-time salaried employees to using freelance and amateur photographers instead.

So what does this mean for the future of photojournalism?

Well, in order to have a future it must have a present. The day “digital” became useable and affordable marked the death of photojournalism as we know it. Why pay an employee to rush over to the scene of investigation when an amateur is already on site? Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to pay the amateur for the use of the images than the salary of the professional?

Photographers, like myself, who are looking to start a career in photography / photojournalism, see this as a terrible consequence of the digital age and social media.

However, others see this as liberating and evolutionary. They see the amateur photographer as liberating the professional from the role of documenting mundane, ordinary, and unexciting newsworthy events, thus allowing the professional to reiterate the true meaning behind being a photojournalist — to document and tell stories.

It is not the professional photojournalist who has died out, only the means of how they get their stories and where they publish them. Instead of reaching out to a magazine or newspaper for work, the professional photojournalist should instead become a freelance photographer and invest in a self-financed story that has not been covered in mainstream media. Then he or she can publish the work via social media outlets with the possibility of publication at a later date. Because mainstream media outlets chase provocative and sensational stories in order to drive in readership, the quality of the work has taken a backseat thus forcing professional photojournalists to self-publish.

The professional photojournalist should not cringe at the amateur photographer but should instead thank them for picking up tedious, unimportant news stories and allowing the professionals to instead, return to the art of their profession. The art of photojournalism is to document and tell stories, often hidden stories, ones mainstream media outlets tend to ignore.

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The rapid decline of the photojournalist


As time goes on, it is becoming evident that there is a decline in professional photojournalism. Even more recently, there has been a shift in the videographer field as well.

Because of technology and the rapid pace at which it is created, there are many more commonly named “citizen journalists.” These are people who capture newsworthy photos and/or videos on the street and send them to news organizations.

Another problem for photojournalists/videographers is that the people who are submitting images and videos don’t necessarily have the initiative to get paid. For any news company, this is a gold mine because, in contrast, a photojournalist would be paid for his or her services. So the potential of free services of these citizen journalists is highly desirable.

News organizations are not doing as well as they once did. Staffs are much smaller now and saving money is key for managers. Why hire a photojournalist when they can just get one of the reporters to take their own pictures or when they can get submissions from these citizen journalists?

This is a huge blow for someone like me because I am currently studying photojournalism. Recently, I discovered that my major has been taken out of my school and has been merged with the journalism major. This is so that writers and reporters will learn the craft as well. This drastic change is a reflection of how the business is changing and that the need for photojournalists is declining.

One of only things that can keep some of these citizen journalists from being too popular in the news industry is validity. How can a newspaper or news channel be completely certain that the submissions they are receiving are real? This is one of the reasons why I argue that there is still a need for photojournalists. I also argue that great feature photography is something that amateurs will never be able to recreate. A photojournalist is taught to have a certain eye for capturing images. It is a learned skill whereas citizen journalists may have just been at the right place at the right time.

Getting a job in the future is definitely going to be a challenge for people like me. The jobs in photojournalism may be dwindling but I feel that photojournalism will always be extremely important.