All you want to know about Photojournalism

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Photojournalism or reportage is a genre of journalism directly related to photography, graphic design and video. The journalists who deal with this genre are usually known as photographers or photojournalists and mostly engaged in the arts.

The development of graphic journalism can be followed from the beginning in photography and has a remarkable relationship to artistic photography. The newspaper used photography for the first time in 1880, in the Daily Graphic of New York, and since then journalism has integrated image as a middle lens and as a representative of the facts.

All you want to know about PhotojournalismParadoxically, the development of journalistic photography has taken place mainly in the political conflicts of different countries or in war disputes. The role of photojournalists has been crucial in capturing the history of events such as the Spanish Civil War, the Paraguayan War, the Spanish-American War, the Vietnam War and the two world wars, among many other military conflicts. Exactly the so-called Golden Age of Photojournalism (1930-1950) coincides with World War II, in which there was a remarkable technical advance in wartime photography.

With the development of printing techniques, thanks to the invention of the offset printer, the journalistic photography achieved a better quality level in printed publications.

All you want to know about Photojournalism
Graphic reporters covering the closing day of the first party of the PCE in the Casa de Campo of Madrid. 1978

On the other hand, the penetration of new technologies such as the Internet has brought about a new phase of journalism on a global scale known as digital journalism, which has particularly affected photojournalism.

The major events of the 21st century, such as the attacks of September 11, 2001, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the tsunami of the Indian Ocean in 2004, have produced, among other things, a remarkable amount of visual information focusing on new technologies stand the hands of amateurs participated. This has led some observers to talk about “crisis of journalism” and others are signaling the beginning of a new era of information trade.


The photographic journalism is a journalistic form intended for the acquisition, edition and presentation of contemporary material in social communication, in particular in written, digital and audiovisual form. It also includes everything related to the image a story tells, and in this case also refers to video and cinema used for journalistic purposes.

Photojournalism differs from other areas of photography, such as documentary photography, street photography and studio photography, which is used for example for modeling. Photojournalism covers all areas of interest such as war journalism, sporting journalism in April, recording the world of entertainment, All you want to know about Photojournalismpolitics, social issues and everything that is possible to create a picture.

In the same way, photojournalism views the genres of the informative profession as interview, chronicle, report and documentary in all its facets. It is also divided into photo-narrative, photo reportage, great photographic report, photojournalistic essay, photojournalistic portrait and photojournalistic column.

Wedding Photojournalism is a photographic trend in social reporting, especially at weddings where the actual protagonist is not the photographer, but the emotions that appear on a day of emotions.

The photographer’s guidelines have already been finalized, prompting the bride and groom to do one or the other, disrupting a special day and turning it into a sequential lineup of a pointless and childlike camera.

The photographer must pass undisturbed as a guest and feel at the same time as an acquaintance and not as a professional, of which up to one hour contact had no time. The essential characteristics for the classification of a photo as a journalistic genre are the following:

  • Actuality : the image must reflect a recent and relevant fact and must illustrate it sufficiently
  • Objectivity : the situation represented in the photograph is a reliable and careful image, representative of the indicated events both in content and in tone
  • Narrative : the image must be combined with other informative elements that make it sufficiently comprehensible for viewers, readers or viewers of all cultural levels
  • Aesthetics : the image must preserve the rigor of photographic aesthetics (light, framing, relationship, background and form, perspective, shadow management, etc.)

Photography must also meet all the rigors of journalistic ethics in terms of truthfulness, accuracy and objectivity. As in the drafting of the news, the photojournalist is a reporter and his office is often risky and usually hindered by multiple factors. 

History of Photojournalism


Thanks to the development of the printing machine 9 and the innovations in photography between 1880 and 1897, it was possible to illustrate messages with photos. While relevant events have been photographed since the 1850s, the press 10 was only able to publish them in a written medium until the 1980s. The most primitive photos were daguerreotypes that had to be reworked for printing.

Although daguerreotypes expanded very early in 1838 in Europe, Canada, the United States and Latin America, it is believed that the pioneers of journalistic photography in the Crimean War (1853-1856) appeared by British reporters like William Simpson of Illustrated London News and Roger Fenton, whose works have been published in print.

In the same way, the United States Civil War had graphic journalists like Mathew Brady, who published his works at Harper’s Weekly. As readers scream for more realistic representations, these first photographs had to be exhibited in art galleries or photographically copied in limited numbers.

The most important world events of the second half of the 19th century, especially those dealing with armed conflicts, political events and historical personalities, were well documented in the photographic material of the time.

All you want to know about Photojournalism
USA. Washington DC. 1967. An American young girl, Jan Rose KASMIR, confronts the American National Guard outside the Pentagon during the 1967 anti-Vietnam march. This march helped to turn public opinion against the US war in Vietnam. Photo: © Marc Riboud / Magnum Photos

On March 4, 1880, the Daily Graphic of New York made the first publication of news in the real photography of history. Innovations followed later, and in 1887 lightning was invented, allowing journalists to photograph outdoors and in low light conditions.

The first photographic documentary story was the Dane Jacob Riis, who emigrated in the United States, who led the story of how he lived the other half (like the other half lives, 1888). 11 For 1897 it was possible to publish printed photographs in printing houses without much difficulty.

Despite the innovations, the boundaries remained and many of the sensational newspapers and story magazines were illustrated with photographs taken between 1897 and 1927.

In 1921, the Wirephoto or the Telephoto was able to transmit pictures as quickly as news by telephone, although this was telegraphically already in 1851 by the World Exhibition in London and commercially carried out since 1863 (see fax).

However, the golden age of graphic journalism was not reached until 1925 with the development of the commercial Leica 35mm camera and the first flash between 1927 and 1930.

Golden Age 

The twentieth century meant a great development in photojournalism, 12 but it is known as the golden age of the same period between 1930 and 1950, due to very significant advances in photography and a greater breadth of journalism.

Paradoxically, the development of photojournalism is mainly between the two world wars, in which journalists and their information tools are put to the test. Many of them even participated as fighters in these wars.

Some magazines, such as the Picture Post in London, the Paris Match in France, the Berlin Workers’ Illustrated Newspaper, Life Magazine and Sports Illustrated in the United States, The Daily Mirror of England, the New York Times and others all earned one good readability and a good reputation thanks to the use of extensive photographic material in the hands of famous photojournalists such as Robert Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Erich Salomon, Margaret Bourke-White and W. Eugene Smith.

In particular, Henri Cartier-Bresson is generally considered the father of photojournalism. The taking of actions that have been frozen in time is famous, like that of a man who jumps and who was considered one of the most beautiful scenes of the 20th century.

His Leica camera (introduced in 1925) is considered versatile and allows him to capture crucial moments at the right time. This camera was also used by another great 20th-century graphic journalist: Robert Capa.

All you want to know about Photojournalism

The private Tony Vaccaro is also considered one of the most prominent photographers of the Second World War. His images taken with a simple Argus C3 camera captured the horrific moments of the war as the death in the battle of Private Capa, who was landing on the beach at Omaha on D-Day and also left important footage of that pivotal moment World War II , It is also known that Vaccaro developed his own pictures on military helmets and used chemicals that he had found in 1944 in the ruins of a photographic laboratory.

Until the 1980s, most publications used printing technology based on low quality, color base, and rough surface newspaper. While the letters were of high resolution and readability, the engravings were formed by photographic dots, which in many cases distorted the image and produced side effects. Although the publication used the photograph well – a considerable size, well framed – opaque reproductions forced the reader to look at the photograph carefully to understand its meaning.

The Wall Street Journal adopted high-resolution dots in 1979 to publish portraits and circumvent the limitations of letter printing. Only until the 1980s did most newspapers switch to offset printers that reproduce photos with high accuracy on white paper.

All you want to know about Photojournalism
In Mother Emigrant the journalist Dorothea Lange reproduced the image of what the great depression meant .

The American magazine Life, one of the most popular weekly magazines since 1936 and in the 1970s in terms of photography, began to reproduce the best photographs in eleven-fold sizes, 35.16 cm pages and high quality ink and soft papers.

Life often publishes the best photos of UPI or AP previously published in other media. However, when presented by the US magazine, they appear as completely different versions due to the careful attention that the magazine gives them.

Acceptance for the art world

Photography divides two worlds: one for technology and the other for art. 13 The visual arts did not accept this at first, however, and did not see photography until the 1870s. In the same way, photojournalism shares both the function of information and the tendency to art.

Logically in the information, the most important thing is what is announced as a message generator. However, those skilled in the art will be aware of the aesthetic dimensions associated with the information. In general, the big photojournalists are the ones who have left works in which both dimensions are perfectly connected.

Mainly because their photos are clear enough to be appreciated, or because their names always appear in their work, magazines’ photographers achieve the status of a celebrity. For example, life became a model in which photo criticism judges photojournalism, and many current journalists have made a name for themselves.

In a selection of the best photographs of Life from 1973, 39 famous photographers were presented, but the results showed that the best photos of UPI and AP were anonymous.

Due to the golden age of photography, the limitations of printing and the organizational systems of news agencies such as UPI and AP, numerous and excellent photographers are working relatively anonymously.

The development of digital photography and the Internet, however, would provide many anonymous photojournalists with new spaces whose work often surpasses those of spoiled, internationally sought-after critics. Currently, many journalists often exhibit their work in art salons.

Professional organizations

The first national organization of photojournalists in the world was founded in 1912 in Denmark with the Union of Press Photographers (Press Photography Roundup), which was initially founded by six photographers from Copenhagen. Currently it has 800 members.

The National Association of Press Photographers was founded in the United States in 1946 and currently has about 10,000 members. In the UK, the British Association of Press Photographers was founded in 1984 and re-founded in 2003. currently has 450 members. In 1989, the Association of Press Photographers began in Hong Kong; in 2000 a similar one in Northern Ireland, 1930 the Pressphotografernas Klubb of Sweden and the press photographer Klubb of Norway.

News organizations and journalism schools in many countries around the world are run by photojournalists who have received notable public recognition. Among the most well-known recognitions in the world are “Featured Photography” (Feature Photography) and “News Picture at the Point” (Spot News Photography). Another award is “World Press Photo”, the “Best in Photojournalism” (Best of Photojournalism) and “Photo of the Year” as well as the “Photo of the Year ” delivered in the UK. All countries where Hispanics are Americans have many photojournalists.


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