An excerpt from an assignment I did on the changing world of photojournalism and my opinions on Instagram being bought by Facebook. Just a little something I thought my photographer and snap-happy readers may find interesting and a little different than my usual uploads! As I’ve been taking a photojournalism class and am starting my internship at Northfoto on Wednesday, its prime time for me to become interested in the subject!
‘THERE are so many apps and so much software available online for the general public to create or fake better photography nowadays. The technology we have at our fingertips is endless, Instagram for smartphones and iPhones, Pixlr online, Photoshop on your desktop, there are so many different modes to create your perfect photo and from this I think, photography has come a long way.
Twenty, maybe even ten years ago, photojournalism was a black art that only the photographically gifted, rich and extremely lucky were able to break into. But now, thanks to the technological advances of computers and even phones, everyone and their mother is able to create the picture they want by just downloading or uploading their photo through some app or sequence that can make your photo look professionally taken, even though it was taken by your five-year-old brother.
The news that Instagram was bought out by Facebook shocked the photographic world to its very core and with good reason. It seemed absolutely unseemly for some reason that a company with no profit and 13 employees could be bought for such a tremendous amount of money and a lot of people in the photo profession may have considered if it was the end of proper point-and-shoot old school photography.
However, I really don’t think that the issue of Instagram and its takeover was about photography or photojournalism at all. The company and its free app isn’t about how good a photographer you are, it’s about how you can edit the photo to make it look the way you like. As Marc Andreessen says in his article, ‘Why Software Is Eating the World’, ‘All of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale’. There has a huge technological shift in the last ten years, things are becoming globalised and everyone wants a bit of the action.
We don’t need to be good photographers anymore, just need to be able to navigate a mouse or a smartphone. But there is a distinct difference when it comes to photojournalism in my opinion. There is a huge difference between photography and photojournalism. Photography is where Instagram or Pixlr comes in, a 12-year-old girl takes a photo of her cat and suddenly it can become art, a global success because she’s introduced sepia and a frame into the mix. But this global success will have its 15 minutes and disappear, because at the end of the day, it’s a picture of a cat, one of presumably millions from around the world. Paul Melcher says in his blog ‘Thoughts of a Bohemian’, ‘There is no saying where photography will take us next’. Whilst that is true, I do think he is laying too much emphasis on photography and none on photojournalism itself. Photojournalism is the art of taking photographs that no one will forget, like Pulitzer Prize winners or the infamous photographs taken in Japan by Eugene Smith.
No matter how much a person edits a photo by Instagram or other software, it will never be as pure as a proper photograph made by a photojournalist. You can edit a photo so it looks professional but point-and-shoot has always prevailed and I truly believe it always will. There is nothing a pure as a photo that captures the magic or tragedy of an event or a person than one that doesn’t need to be altered and that is the factor that shows that although photography can be altered by technology but photojournalism can’t. I don’t think that a newspaper or magazine will ever get to the stage of buying photos altered by Instagram, say what you like about Photoshop and its airbrushing but at least it doesn’t put a frame around a photo and suddenly call itself art or even photojournalism because it’s not. Airbrushing is a great concept but at the least you can see the starting point of a great photo in it.
However, technology must advance and there are hundreds of apps dealing with photos and photo editing, from Instagram that creates frames and effects to apps that change hair colour. Before long there will be Google-aided facial recognition but until then, there is space for plenty more photo based apps’.