Not Everybody Is a Photographer

After reading Arielle Emmett’s article entitled, “Too Graphic?” in which debates on the role of photojournalism during national tragedies arise, I started thinking more deeply on photography and reporting together.

Anything that occurs, either worldwide or a national event, can be seen from wherever a person is. There will most likely always be somebody there, with a camera, with a phone, with a sharing app, with a photography app, and with a social media presence. Simply typing in the name of a tragedy or an event such a protest in your computer’s search engine will bring up many photos uploaded from a multitude of different people. You get to experience different perceptions of such events at the touch of your fingertips. Before this, photojournalism played a bigger role in revealing these events to the public. Someone would be forced to open their newspaper or turn on the news to see what has been documented of a war, a natural disaster, protests, or local news stories.

The problem with today’s convenience of unlimited photo sharing outlets is the quality and quantity that is being delivered. With such smart applications like Instagram, Hipstamatic and the camera functions on social media websites, everybody thinks they jump into a photographer’s role and must share what they see, who they are with, and what they are doing. Sometimes our friends photos of a local concert or the crime scene of a downtown shooting will reach us before the news story does. Now, this may not seem like a problem to us since we have become such fast-acting creatures who want the quickest access to information, but  photo journalists realize that the great “iconic” photo they just released may not be the first time it has been seen and the shock or wow factor wears off. What sort of new angle could they have published it with that can’t simply be “Googled”?

Photojournalists still have an impactful role on news gathering and what they print becomes very essential to what is being reported on. These professionals know how to give the public what we want to see. In this modern day, it is simply noted that events and the photos to go along with them are being shared quicker by non-professionals and it may disrupt the “making of history” when it does come down to those nationally published photographs.

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