Monday, August 10, 2009

The death of photojournalism?

Back in the day, if you enjoyed looking at pictures, there were but a few places to see photojournalism.

Before television, there were movie house newsreels.

Newspapers printed pictures every day from far away places. But they were mostly fuzzy, black and white and grainy wire photos.

LIFE magazine - started in 1936 by Henry Luce - brought the world in pictures to your mailbox, once a week...all year long. Printed on slick magazine paper, the pictures were alive and vibrant.

And anyone who aspired to be a photojournalist, looked to LIFE photographers as role models. They had the most coveted jobs in photojournalism.

And who wouldn't want to be a photojournalist? After all, they traveled the globe and got paid for it.

LIFE folded in 1972.

But the profession of photojournalism survived.

Legions of freelance photographers traveled the world shooting for hundreds of magazines that continued to thrive despite television.

But no more.

The New York Times reports today on the death of photojournalism.
Newspapers and magazines are cutting back sharply on picture budgets or going out of business altogether, and television stations have cut back on news coverage in favor of less-costly fare. Pictures and video snapped by amateurs on cellphones are posted to Web sites minutes after events have occurred. Photographers trying to make a living from shooting the news call it a crisis.
The good news is that there's still a lot of photojournalism being done and places to see it.

Pictures that used to take a week or two to be printed in magazines are now available within hours of being shot.

The Boston Globe's Big Picture has dozens of images of Typhoon Morakot that hit mainland China today.

There will always be a market for photography but photographers will have to get used to more competition and smaller paychecks.

To illustrate a cover story on "The New Frugality," TIME magazine ironically chose a stock photograph for its cover it bought for $30!

The New York Times article quotes photojournalist Dirck Halstead, To be a photojournalist today, he wrote, “You have to be crazy.”

But some photographers are forging ahead and finding new ways to tell stories with pictures.

And for those who can't cut it there's this advice from Miami Beach freelance photographer Brian Smith: "Starbucks offers excellent health benefits and their coffees come from many of the same countries that photojournalists used to frequent..."

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