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Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen

by Fred Ritchin
A Dialectical Journalism
While their enterprise is undergoing a aradi m . . .
to evaluate the traJectories of th . p g . shift, JOurnahsts have found it difficult
eir own profess
1 1 d
are trained as observers ape . n, eta one glil e them. Although they
. ' rspectJve may be lackin Th fi h
put It, are the last to know abo h g. e s , as Marshall McLuhan
ut t e water they d , k ,
know what dry is. , on t now Its wet, because they don't
Some ideas that were previously mar inalized b .
reclaimed. Photojournalism d d g y mamstream media can be
an ocumentary photo h , I
examples, some from the f . h grap y s ast few decades offer
nnges, t at suggest other wa s to
pret events and issues, and may b h 1 f I y report, explore, and inter-
. . e e P u to those who fi d
constnctmg, given the wider p t . I f d. . . n conventwnal strategies
w h 0 entia S 0 a Ig!tal environment
. It the advem of social media (Web 2 o) and" . . . ..
Ily available data and multiple . f . . . cmzen JOurnalism," of masses of eas-
pomts o VIew (It was recent! d
many photographs produced e . y reporte that there are as
very two mmutes today d
teenth century),' the journalist's l b h h . as were rna em the entire nine-
. ro e as ot c romcler and fil . .
o an archaic elitism (Web I o) w; b b . ter IS resisted as a remnant
. l . . e rowsmg has a te d b
entit ed form of consumerism ( 1 1 1 f . n ency to ecome, instead, an
a ow- eve orm of mt . . ) h .
contemporary events become h .l eractivity w erem reports on
. . anot er easi y overlooked ite h .
J ournahsnc expertise is disp d b m on t e menu of chmces.
arage y many as 'f .
randing than of knowledge I h a mam estatwn more of corporate
. n p orography and video lik 1 h . .
news-related scoops (Abu Gh 'b h ' e y t e maJonty of recent
. rai ' t e 20I I earthquak d ..
executwn of Saddam H . h . e an tsunami m Japan the
ussem, t e Arab Spnn a d '
the province of amateurs equipped . h hg: _n so on) have become principally
Wit sop ISticated bl h .
re uced budgets, journalis ' l b . . porta e tee nologies. With
. m s ro e ecomes mcreasmgl . . .
eruptwn; its responsibilitY. a y reactive, Waitmg for the next
. . as oovernmental Watchdo and . 1 . .
eemed enher unnecessary o . fr . b g societa glue IS diminished
r me 1ecnve y p 1 h '
eop e w o no longer view an active press
as essential to their own well-being. Given the sensationalism, self-interest, and explicit
bias exhibited by the so-called "fourth estate, " a weakened confidence may seem, all
too often, merited-circumvented, to some extent, by an emergent "fifth estate," a
blogosphere disappointed in the other four.
Meanwhile, billions of images are available for viewing (some 3,500 are uploaded
every second to Facebook alone),
and unfiltered sites such as YouTube have become
a major source of news worldwide (over four billion hours of video are watched there
every month).
In contrast to the experience of traditional media, now viewers are able
to see whatever they want whenever they want it, without a hierarchy of importance
imposed by the eyewitnesses who created the imagery or by their editors. The most
popular news videos tend to depict natural disasters or political upheaval, "usually fea-
turing intense visuals," according to a 20I 2 Pew Foundation study.
YouTube's internal
data reports that in 20I I, for four months out of twelve, news events (of varying levels
of importance) were the most searched terms on You Tube: the earthquake in Japan, the
killing of Osama bin Laden, a fatal motorcycle accident, and a story of a homeless man
who spoke with what those producing the video called a "god-given gift of voice."
It would be naive, however, to separate the state of journalism from that of the larger
political process. The assumption of a knowledgeable, participatory citizenry interested
in understanding issues and events in order to vote according to their own best interests,
as well as the presumption that meaningful political choices exist, can hardly be taken for
granted. In 20I2, three and a half years into Barack Obama's first term of office, another
Pew Foundation poll reported that 48 percent of registered voters either thought that
the president is Muslim or were not sure of his religious beliefs, while 30 percent of
Republicans asserted that Obama is Muslim (approximately double those who said that
during the earlier 2oo8 campaign).5 Even after a series of horrific mass murders, includ-
ing one in a Colorado cinema in which twelve people died while watching a Batman
movie and another in which a congresswoman was shot in the head during a public
meeting in an Arizona parking lot, the chances of banning automatic weapons were
considered remote. It took the murder of twenty schoolchildren in Connecticut, along
with six members of the school's staff, for a concerted public outcry to begin to move
government officials at the end of 20I2. The 2003 invasion of Iraq-although protested
in February of that year in at least a hundred American cities and in dozens of countries
worldwide by millions of people-was nonetheless implemented the following month.
Even with the enormous numbers of people troubled by climate change, the subject was
never broached in the 20I2 presidential debates. Why bother to be informed, many must
think, if one's own potential impact on society can seem so negligible?
Many working in what is now called visual journalism have long had as their man-
date the rousing to consciousness of a distracted people and a sometimes oblivious
A Dialectical Journalism 29
government. But in an ever-more-preoccupied society, with increased defenses against
an unrelenting barrage of vivid, often heart-wrenching imagery, there is little consen-
sus with regard to how to amplify the strategies of visual journalism, and far too little
experimentation, particularly given the array of new digital tools available.
Multimedia is often interpreted simply as more media, so that greater numbers of
photographs are added, some parceled into online slide shows that rend to be hap-
hazard] y sequenced and captioned - and with jumbled responses by viewers unsure of
what they have just seen. Shorr videos may be added to complement the still images,
bur often end up competing with them until, in the never-ceasing news cycle, both
are quickly displaced. And, given the templates used by the content-management sys-
tems that dominate online news and apps, the placement and scale of the imagery is
often predetermined, disallowing a hierarchy of importance or a specific visual design
to emphasize underlying meanings of the imagery. (One site that uses photographs
vividly, The Big Picture, simply runs many captioned pictures on the same subject in
a vertical scroll, all at the same generous size).
Such strategies add quantity, bur can
make the world seem even more incomprehensible, while destabilizing any sense of
authorship by the visual journalist.
Photo-reporters working with the mainstream press, cognizant of what remains
of tradition in their field, are uncertain of which emerging media strategies to employ
(even initial forays using their own cellphone apps to photograph have ignited much
indignation by colleagues). Furthermore, they do not know whether, from their posi-
tion in a fraught journalistic atmosphere struggling to survive, they even have the right
to assen other media strategies, without straying too far from their assigned roles still
entwined with the illustration of orhers' ideas. A strong point of view with complex-
ity and depth is rarely what is asked of them. (Tod Papageorge has coined a twist on
Robert Capa's famous maxim "If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close
enough." In a wonderful counterbalance, Papageorge advises: "If your pictures aren't
good enough, you don't read enough.")7
For many photographers, whether on staff wirh publications or freelance, surviv-
ing in the crumbling economy of the press may be a fully consuming battle with little
choice but to produce what is expected if given the opportunity. Furthermore, the
major standard-setting industry awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize and World Press
Photo, have been slow to reward experimentation using visual media, highlighting too
many cliches-photographs rhar look much like other, previously praised photographs.
Photojournalists and documentary photographers working independently, on the
other hand, have long had to rake more risks in conceiving and implementing new strat-
egies, especially when the parameters of their self-defined projects are set by their own
ambitions. Sometimes, too, there are particularly fertile moments when photographers
. I with an idiosyncratic body of work have been
who have established themse ves . ]-although few publications
. hat transcends the conventiona k
lenged to create Imagery t . . f rrino- to wait until such wor
. . t n expenmentatwn, pre e o .
are known for their mvestmen 1 h h , expense before committmg
I d f at the p otograp er s ,
is at least nearly comp ere , o . (Th" . ot a generalized critique of picture
d I pubhcauon. IS Is n . h
to its support an eventua d . d endent photographers Wit
d. ny of whom have generously supporte Ill ep e 1tors, rna
. h"l h" f their acceptance.) h
advice w I e pus mg or . . . d endent photoo-raphers ave
f d . their proJeCts, m ep o . .
In the process o pro ucmg . f . I media and its limited
f h traditional strategies o visua .
had to transcend some o t e h .d d also to <>et noticed. Now, with
. d t duce ot er 1 eas, an o
vocabulary m or er to m ro . . h K. ckstarter and, some are
d f d. f m entitles sue as 1 . I
crowd-source un mg ro . f fi 1 help And as conventwna
. I h . future audiences or nanCia . '
trying to go direct y to t eir . . . 1 a<>endas there are those photog-
! t 1 m settmg soc1eta o ' . .
media have become ess pivo a . b h llaborate with humamtanan
as Witnesses ut t en co
raphers who choose to engage h . k t more directly help resolve the
. . h be able to use t eir wor o . .
orgamzations t at may d lleries with their pictures, or
. . d S e also go to museums an ga
situations deplete . om . . . dentif other strategies to provoke a
seek to publish books, create or 1 y duce and new ways to dis-
f fi d n<> the means to pro larger conversation. In terms o n 1 o
"b t the field is in enormous ferment. tn u e,
. ust as some writers and reporters in the I 96os and
New narratives are also possible. J II d h "N Journalism" -traditional
h T Wolfe and others ca e t e ew . d
'7os engaged m w at om . . h d that are more subjective, intenor, an
. b ned wlt mo es I
nonfictional strategies com I b f h tographers have over the ast
f r. . so too a small num er o p o . , I .
borrowed rom nction- . h b 11 d "New Photoj ournahsm. t IS
. d with what mig t e ca e a
several decades expenmente h "d 1 n part because there is an expecta-
. ) h h s not caug t on WI e y, I
a term (and a nouon t at a . I" . . will create a certain amount
. h that JOUrna IStic Images
tion, even more than Wit wnters, . . . o- mehow "objective" -making
. h press while remammo so
of excitement m t e mamstream h . I. t" more difficult to employ. (It
. "ker of "New p otOJOUrna IS
anyone carrymg the mom . d . . h" olleague Henri Cartier-Bresson
. . f C h pragmatist, a VIsmg IS c 1.
is remimscent o apa, t e . "'Don't keep the label of a surrea Ist
h b. h of Magnum Photos, m the late I940S,
at t e Irt . ,
photographer. Be a photojournalist. ) d orkaise , for the French
d , I 8 I "Correspon ance new-y ' . ,
Raymond Depar on s 9 . I f h "New Photojournalism :every
.b , . lines the potentia s o t e
newspaper Lz eratwn, exemp . d h h nd a short, diary like text,
f h h transmme a p otograp a
day over the course o a mont ' e f . ff . page this chronicle, told in both
I. h d the aper's oreign-a airs ' .
which were pub IS e on P . . N York transccndmg the
h. d succeeded in humamzmg ew ' .
the first and the t Ir person, h both subjective and discermng.
normal news filters, and presenting the photograp eras
A Dialectical Journalism 3 1
. ext to a gray-toned photogra h of thre
Ing umbrellas in the rain and w d p h S e men, shown from the back, hold-
. m on t e taten Island F D
m French): "July 4, I98r. New y; k I . . . . erry, epardon's text read
h . . or . trams lt rams It I d d
t e City IS empty. A visit to the Statue of . . IS. n ence Day, a holiday,
I want to go back to France to let h. ty. Discussion all mght with a girlfriend.
' everyt mg go I f If
myself what am I doing here. All is sad. A bad d . I orce_ myse to make a photo. I ask
Depardon's work allows th " 1. ay. begm to read G by John Berger "9
e camera rea ny" (the men o h f . .
contravened by a text that calls th . . . n t e erry m the rain) to be
e VJewmg mto qu . 1 .
rendered as sadly were its author in d"ff f esnon-:-wou d the Image have been
A h
. . a 1 erent rame of mmd ;>
not er 1mag h
e m t e senes, of seven youn . 1 k. .
T-shirts, was accompanied by th. g gir s s lppmg rope, wearing matching
IS text:
This morning I leave with a hotour h .
York Times. In the subwa .f " ap er, Dnh Pran, Cambodian, of the New
Y u<at goes to II 6th Stre H 1
o Cambodia, of the rice fi elds f hi f In ar em he speaks to me
s our years w1th rh Kh R
not a pnsoner, it was worse , H k . e mer ouge. "I was
e spea s ro me F h h
wnh His wife and four children ]jv . n rene Wit a soft voice . ..
was killed. He has worked at th N ". v k e _m Brooklyn, the rest of his family
h e ew LOr Tzmes fo
p otographers Sylvain Julienne s v hi . Tone year. We speak of the
I ' on IC rt, Gilles Caro I ' h c
go to Harlem. I am 39 years old t d wr I n. t s t e nrsr ume that
. .
ay. we eave the subwa 1 1 k
e po Ice orgamze games for ch.ld . h y, peop e oo at us
1 ren m t e st 5 l . '
run to a fire roo meters awa . . reets. evera mmutes later we
Y . no VICtims We h
ra y, then to Brooklyn for R bl" I . . . . go tot e Bronx for a police
r a epu Jean at the d f h d
conrerence about an accident . h b , en o t e ay to a press
m t e su way several da.ys earlier. o
The happy girls shown in midair belie th .
at that time as a place rife with d e convennonal press coverage of Harlem
. . mur ers and drug d 1
or ItS VIolence. This was ave cliff . ea ers-wonhy of attention only
J ry erent kmd of foreig "
JOurna of the summer:, as L .b , . d . . n reportmg, a photographic
' z eratwn escn bed It 1 h li
description of photoJOurnafs "k . . 'a ong t e nes of Cartier-Bresson's
m as eep1ng a JO 1
pwneering effort foreshadowing tod , bl lurna_ WHn a camera." It was also a
d 1 . ay s og cu ture m h h h
ota are given prominence (A h E w JC t e personal and anec-
. . not er uropean rna az. b
pu hshed a long series of d bl g me at a out the same time
ou e-page colo h h
system, each one, as I remember it t"ll _r_pd s of the New York subway
s I ' a VIVJ I . .
someone who had been r d h b 'o mg < epJctwn of a murder. As
d 1 mg t e su way many times w kl f
an who had never once encountered d . ee y or a number of years,
N amur eroranyv 1
ew York was rendered as a viol 1 IO ent cnme, I was astonished.
. Th . ent p ace I would ne . .
m. e JOUrnalist had emplo)'ed . . ver want to VISit, let alone live
d . a strategy Similar to the h .
eplct the inhabitamsof c nil. . one t at JS so often used to
o JCt areas as mh d .
the "other.") uman an IrratiOnal, making them into
A selection of Gilles Peress's photographs from Iran were published in the New
York Times Magazine in 198o as "A Vision of Iran"; I was the Magazine's picture edi-
tor at the time. Peress's kaleidoscopic images of the country's postrevolutionary chaos
became the first glimpse for most Americans of the unknown and perhaps unknowable.
The word vision in the title seemed an acknowledgment (remarkable for the Times)
that no one knew what was happening in Iran at that moment, including the State
Department and journalists; in this case, photographs were not being utilized to confirm
a certain version of reality-instead, Peress's intuitive grasp of the situation, his vision,
would have to be relied upon. Peress's work from Iran was later honored with the
Overseas Press Club Award. As I was on my way, alone, to the ceremony at the Waldorf-
Astoria Hotel to accept Peress's award, the Magazine's editor in chief confided in me
that neither he nor the top editor of the New York Times liked or understood Peress's
photographs. It seemed to me an odd response to winning one of journalism's major
awards, and an apparent sign of the distress that the unconventional images had caused.
A larger selection of these photographs were later published in book form as Telex:
Iran, with a caution from the photographer himself: "These photographs, made during
a five-week period from December 1979 to January 1980, do not represent a complete
picture of Iran or a final record of that time." (Cartier-Bresson gave a similar warning
in his 1952 book The Decisive Moment.) The reader is forced to see the photographs as
inquiries into Iranian reality by a photographer who described his own position as that
of a kind of foreign-media mercenary, taking the unusual step of explicitly detailing
in the accompanying telexes (messages typed on a special machine that are then trans-
mitted to another machine that prints them our) many of the business arrangements
involved in being a freelance photojournalist.
The book's first photograph, a nearly double-page image of Farsi writing, is unread-
able by most foreigners; the second, of a hand-drawn sign, is in English: "As an Iranian I
want you corresponders +journalists+ film-takers [to] tell the truth to the world." The
following photograph, made partly through Peress's magnifying Ioupe, depicts a
table covered with a contact sheet, telexes, an identity card, and front pages from the
New York tabloid press: "Khomeini's Cowards Humiliate Hostage,"" 1oo,ooo Shriek
Hatred," "Mideast Madness." The subsequent spread presents, more calmly, two
consecutive images on a contact sheet, with the film numbers and dark frames still
surrounding them, helping the reader understand that the photograph is part of a medi-
ation, and is not to be read as asserting a definitive reality. (See page 82.)
Peress describes his own role in a series of telexes with his agency, Magnum, that
are scattered throughout the book beside photographs (all sic): "Gilles has a small mini-
mum ex Paris Match and keen interested from Now ... "; "Jon Kifner of New York
Times will bring cash. He lives at IntercontinentaL Do you need film. Please specify
A Dialectical Journalism 33
what kind and how many rolls. Bises. Natasha"; "Attention say to the lab to watch
out particularly for a roll that might be in part ruined since the Revolutionary Guards
opened my camera and tried to expose film after I shot heroin smokers. I hope they can
save them. Thanks, Gilles."''
Similarly, Richard Avedon's sixty-nine portraits for Rolling Stone magazine of the
U.S. power elite at the time of the 1976 Bicentennial went far beyond the conventional
portraiture found in the press, much of which (both then and now) attempts to be
either neutral or flattering, and rarely probes the subject's psyche (page 8 r ). Created on
assignment for Rolling Stone's publisher, ]ann Wenner, the forty-eight pages of imag-
ery featured portraits of three future presidents Gimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and
George Bush Sr.; secretary Rose Mary Woods was a substitute for her boss, Richard
Nixon, who had recently resigned the presidency), Defense Department head Donald
Rumsfeld, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, civil rights leader Julian Bond, and media
titans Abe Rosenthal of the New York Times and Katharine Graham of the Washington
Post. The series was called "The Family," disturbingly suggestive of imprisoned killer
Charles Manson's "Family" of followers. Posed and abstracted to be studied against
a seamless background, the subjects are both enlarged and diminished as if under a
microscope, hands occasionally cut off, the dark edges of the negative visible.
"At the outset, Avedon decided to approach the project from the perspective of
an objective observer," writes curator Paul Roth (for a time director of the Avedon
Foundation) in Avedon's 2oo8 book Portraits of Power. He continues:
While he told his subjects where to stand, positioning them within the camera
frame, he generally gave only subtle direction. For example, he sometimes
mirrored their posture, standing and moving as they did: he found that this
subsequently induced them to mimic his gestures. He was thus able to subtly
direct their pose. Typically he encouraged his subjects to appear as they were
when they arrived, their hair and clothes unadjusted. If they brought items to
the session, these often became "props" of a sort in the finished image. "I try to
allow the people really-if that's possible-to photograph themselves." Avedon
later stated that the process "was an attempt at real reporting ... it [was] the
first time I have functioned as a journalist." 12
"I just popped in and did it and left," Rumsfeld said of his session for the "Family"
series, according to Blake Gopnik in the Washington Post. And Julian Bond, chair-
man of the NAACP, recalled: "All of the photos were rather matter-of-fact-minimal
instructions and minimal posing by him. Just look in the camera and click."
But there was more to it than that. Avedon too was quite affected by the sessions,
Roth observes, describing "how such interactions, or 'exchange of feelings,' left him
, . " kind of embarrassment" when it was over. Roth "The
uneasy, wtth almost a . 1 . . A performance IS recorded:
h b n to a vtsua mtervtew. . . ,
subjects pose as thoug su mttu g , A d t ld a reporter. 'I do the edmng.
h . h they choose ve on o f
'They present t e Image t at , . . 11 b" rive They are the result o
. 1 -or even pnnctpa y-o Jec
The portraits are not enure y . . , But finally for Avedon, the
. . . h der permanent mterrogatlon. ,
strategic mqmry; t ey engen " hs 'have a reality for me that the people
reality is in the photographs: The photograp h "''J
h h hs that I know t em.
don't. It's through t e p otograp A d , endeavor combines first- and
k f D d n and Peress, ve on s .
Like the wor o epar o . . 1" . I d emphasis on the intuitiVe that
. h xphettly po mea , an an
third-person narratives, t e e f h h" The resulting work-a per-
. fl d b the use o t e mac me.
is only partially camou age y . h her sub,ect, and reader. It
h rsauon among P otograp ' .
formance-reframes t e conve l"f . ) f the authority of the professiOnal
( d even an amp I ymg
b d
includes a questwmng an . h . f the photograph as a hy n
. k d !so rethmks t e creatiOn o
as a unique Jmage-ma er, an a . Wh"l postmodern artists and critics have
. d d tary strategtes. I e many d
of artistic an acumen . . "bl h 1" "ts of the documentary mo e,
. d makmg VIS! e t e tmt
focused on deconstructmg an b . "f t t"mes ironically: the photograph's
h . [" ts" were em racmg, I a I '
these "New p otOJOur_na . "vir as well as their own presence.
credibility while assertmg Its eternal_subJeCtl Y: . Esquire New York, Harper's,
The work of the New Journahsts, m ber of books such as Truman
bl" s we as m a num '
Rolling Stone, and other pu !Cations, a M "1 , Armies a the Night (r968), used
ld Bl d ( 66) nd Norman aJ er s ,
Capote's In Co oo
9 a . t r to amplify the reporters
. . f fi ion " as one revtewer pu 1 ,
"the imagmauve resources o ct , f h h" hile displacing a more con-
. . d . the process o aut ors tp w
palette, invnmg rea ers mto . . . Th ork was controversial; it was
. d thontauve reportmg. e w d"bl
ventionally !Stance , au f I . d had to be as ere I e
. bl S e like Gay Talese, e t It was, an , .
attacked as unreha e. om , . ll . f his own writings, much of It
. r I t oducmg a co ecuon o
as conventional JOUrna tsm. n r d "Th . ournalism though often reading
f E Talese state : e new 1 '
from th_e o . hould be, as reliable as the most reliable
like fictwn, IS not fictwn. It ts, or s . "bl h o-h the mere compilation of venfi-
. I th than IS posst e t roub
although It seeks a tru . d dherence to the rigid organizational style
able facts, the use of dtrect quotatwns, an a
of the older form."'4 . . Dobell of Popular Photography maga-
Cartier-Bresson, in an intervtew With Byron
zine in I 9 57, said something very similar:
11 d " s , but some tell the news step
We often photograph that areca e 'netwte,ment Such news and maga-
. d .1 f k ng an accountants s a
by step m eta1 as 1 rna I h event in a most pedestrian way.
zine photographers, ::rloo by some historian: so many
It's like reading the details oft e att eo dd a ou read the account as if it
h en were woun e -y
guns were t ere, so many m , d .f d Stendhal's Charterhouse
were an itemization. But on the other nan , 1 you rea
A Dialectical Journalism 35
of Parma, you're inside the banle and you live the small, significanc details ....
Life isn't made of stories that you cur imo slices like an apple pie. There's no
standard way of approaching a Story. We have to evoke a situation, a truth. This
is the poetry of life's reality.' s
As with the work of the photojournalists cited above, the vantage point of the per-
sonal was critical for the New Journalists: "The important and interesting and hopeful
trend to me in the new journalism is its personal nature-not in the sense of personal
attacks, but in the presence of the reporter himself and the significance of his own
involvement," author Dan Wakefield wrote in 1966. "This is sometimes felt to be ego-
tistical, and the frank identification of the author, especially as the 'I' instead of merely
the impersonal 'eye' is often frowned upon and taken as proof of 'subjectivity,' which
is the opposite of the usual journalistic pretense. "'
For some photojournalists, the explicit introduction of the "I" over the "eye"
was an ultimately productive leap. It involved presenting the photograph as dialecti-
cal, as a representation first constructed by the subjective photographer, with input
from those both within and outside the frame, re-presented by a publication, and
then reconstructed by a reader made wary of its actuality by the photographer's
contextualizing thoughts and unconventional style of image making. The photo-
graph stood less chance of being, on its own, perceived as an objective, automatically
credible witness, nor could photographers escape their role as "authors" -opening a
more extensive reconsideration of photography's nonfictional pedigree, while mak-
ing it evident that such reporting, as was the case for writers like Mailer and Talese,
involves considerably more sophistication than just being at the right place at the
right time. The "imaginative resources" of fictional photography or of the photo-
based artist also had been considered off-limits for serious photojournalists. Now,
given the enormous shifts as to what is acceptable and where, one may see the work
of photographers of the ilk of Depardon, Peress, and Avedon as easily in a museum
as in the press.
The New Journalism's most relevant legacy to today's challenges may be its enthu-
siastic experimentation in the face of what was seen then as a constricting paradigm.
As Tom Wolfe wrote: "What interested me [about New Journalism] was not simply
the discovery that it was possible to write accurate non-fiction with techniques usu-
ally associated with novels and short stories . ... It was the discovery that it was
possible in non-fiction, in journalism, to use any literary device, from the traditional
dialogisms of the essay to stream-of-consciousness, and to use many different kinds
simultaneously, or within a relatively short space .. . to excite the reader both intel-
lectually and emotionally. "' 7
. h fictional, one might . . f fictional techmques to t e non
To experience the apphcatton o G T I e Esquire piece, named by the maga-
. h fa 1966 ay a es C ld"
onsider the operung paragrap o . t"t!ed "Frank Sinatra Has a o .
bl" h d on ns pages, I zine as the greatest story ever pu IS e .
b . hand and a cigarette in the
. l f bour on m one . bl d
Frank Sinatra, holdmg a g ass o b b two attractive but fadmg on es
other, stood in a dark corner of the said nothing; he had been silent
who sat waiting for him to say so met h" . te club in Beverly Hills he
. t now m t 1S pnva . d
urino- much of the evenmg, excep h h h oke and semidarkness mto
" . ,_,. t t roug t e sm d
seemed even more d1stant, stann, ou f couples sat huddled aroun
d h b where dozens o young f f lk
a large room t _e ar of the floor to the clamorous clang o , o -
small tables or tw1sted m the center h blondes knew, as did Smatra s four
l f the stereo T e two n
rock music b anng rom . b d dea to force conversatwn upo
b h t n was a a 1
male friends who stood near y, t a [] "l a mood that had hardly been un-
. h" d of su en S1 ence, . b. hd
him when he was m t 1S moo b a month before his fifueth m ay.
d . h. first week of Novem er, common unng t 1S
And the article's conclusion:
. li ht was red. Pedestrians passed quickly
Frank Sinatra stopped h1s car. The g d" d t It was a girl in her twenues. She
across his windshield but.' as usual, corner of his left eye he
remained at the curb stanng a: h1m. I" st every day, that she was thmkmg,
h d he knew because 1t happens a mo see er, an '
It looks like him, but is it? s ned toward her, looked directly
. h d green matra tur h 1 d
Just before the 1g t turne . ' ld come. It came and e sm1 e
. . for the reacuon he knew wou into her eyes wamng
She smiled and he was gone.
. I l"k -but very few can take us to . and professwna s a I e ..
Anyone can wnte-amateurs . h elding facts and supposmons
I d
. 1 ne them roger er, m b . II
.. t worlds externa an mterna, . .k ece of fiction, and ase 1t a
VISI . . flow that functwns h e a great p1
while creatmg a narranve h f d to be interviewed.
f ger w o re use .
on an out-of-sorts amous sm . t people or events of Importance.
omt a camera a
Similarly, nearly anyone can p f t"onal gaze of Avedon's portraits,
1 h
tamed con ronta 1 . h. h
t few could emu ate t e sus . ' h fi mly ensconced Wit m t e
u . d croscope t ose r . h
taking in, as if with an oversize mi I f ' n search of details intimanng t e
p , rest ess rames 1 d
shielding aura of power, or s 1 . 'T'oday'sJ ournalists, looking towar
. h" d. ng revo ut10n . .L' b.
forces at work wlt m a IZZY1 f h "new" in journalism that com mes
ld fi d moment o t e fi
their own past, wou n a . h anarchy and spontaneous rst-person
ome of what is being searched for_ now. tl. e "th the third-person elan of the sea-
. ourna ISm WI ld b
approach of contemporary cmzen J . b th intimate and public shou e
d bserver and a sense that subJect matter o sone o '
in their purview.
A Dialectical Journalism 37
However, there have also been, and continue to be, productive approaches that are
radically different from those described above. Peress, for example, later embraced a
more matter-of-fact style in hi s 1990s work in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. "I
work much more like a forensic photographer in a certain way, collecting evidence," he
told U.S. News and World Report in 1997. "I've started to take more still lives, like a
police photographer, collecting evidence as a witness. I've started tO borrow a differ-
ent strategy than that of the classic photojournalist. The work is much more factual
and much less about good photography. I'm gathering evidence for history, so that
we remember." '
Depardon, for his parr, has concentrated on film, making dozens
of important documentaries in a cinema verite style on subjects such as a psychiatric
hospital in Italy, the Paris police, photo-reporters, the judiciary, and French peasants.
His first fictional film, Empty Quarter, about a filmmaker's relationship with a young
woman while traveling through Africa, was released in I 98 5. Avedon continued in the
documentary vein with In the American West, a rare five-year comrrussion from rhe
Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas which depicted working-class people in
ways that were monumentalizing (the seamless background gave no sense of place),
sometimes empathetic, and also somewhat perverse, seeming to magnify their foibles.
Responding to the controversy surrounding this work, first exhibited in 1985, Avedon
said: "All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth."'
To find other truths, given the increased quantity of imagery recently available while
sensitive to the contested role of the phorographer, there are others who have moved
into a role not unlike that of an archivist, or a "metaphotographer," gathering work from
people who, from direct experience, may know the most about a situation. Consider,
for example, Geerr van Kesteren's 2008 Baghdad Calling, a collection of cellphone
images and testimonies from Iraqi refugees that testify to the profoundly unsettling and
long-lasting impact of the war on their personal lives, or Susan Meiselas's akaKurdistan
website, for which Kurds were asked to participate in creating their own collective his-
tory by contributing their photographs and helping to identify each other's imagery.
The largest archive now ro be found, of course, is in the ever-expanding social
media, a potential source of enormously rich imagery. The diverse experimentation
to be encountered in the billions of images now available, from the strident activism
of citizen journalism to the playful, diaristic You Tube videos and exchanges of family
albums to the commentaries by a generati on of homegrown.experts (media literacy is
hardly taught in schools) to the banal imagery detailing the everyday, should eventu-
ally prove an essential reservoir of social documentary alongside the work of a much
smaller group of professionals.
But while there are overlapping goals shared by professionals and amateurs, there
are also significant differences in the media environments they now inhabit. With the
" . h ublic's role as producer and disseminator of media
advent of "user-generated sttes, t e P h . d and pictures the details of
. . h' h people s are, m wor s ' . .
resembles a conversatwn m w tc . h 'll do the same. It is as tf tmag-
. . h expectauon that ot ers Wl .
their own hves wtt every . . . . d' sion and 'attract attenuon
. ld r oral tradmon, to mClte tscus
ery is presented, as m an e . b h The photo-reporters work-
r.. . b . . the confirmauon y t e group.
-success, ll tt ts to e, IS m . h been allowed or have taken,
. l d' with some excepuons, ave '
ing for convenuona me ta, h h . . gery must somehow pen-
. . h outsiders, and as sue t etr tma .
few such hberues; t ey are . k d bl' rather than surfacmg from
. f h l er soClal-networ e pu tc,
etrate the purvteW o t e arg ' . b rofessionals in using cellphones,
. h' . (This helps to explain a recent mterest y p
wlt m 1t. ts)
. . d ameras to cover maJor even .
rather than more sophtsncate c , . . ber of emerging movements
d' d 1 pracuuoners, a num
Along with efforts Y m !VI ua . oncerns there is as well a
1 ast to recogmze, contemporary c ' .
attempt to address, or at e b f d d in various countnes. There
. h ll . ves that have een oun e .
surge m photograp y co ecu . h h'l h of which is simtlar to that of
. . f Sl Journahsm (t e p 1 osop y
are practmoners o ow . the twenty-four-hour news
hose work IS a response to
the Slow Food movement w . 'thout much reflection. In a
tly churn out tmagery WI
cycle and the nee to constan . k' l practices, more comfortable
. h raphers are sue mg to ana og . . .
similar vem, some p otog d Th s Keenan's 20IO exhtbmon
. f Carles Guerra an oma
with thetr less reneuc pace. h r ches of classical photo-
. . . ted what they see as t e c I ..
Antiphoto;ournahsm m t e r r o ~ a h d f h demands of this tradluon and
. . f " age unleas e rom t e .
journahsm, argmng or an tm 1 . 11 other stories " while concludmg:
ke other c atms, te '
freed to ask other quesuons, rna l h h even need images at all." They
y w et er we
"And sometimes the quesuon lS strop . . "Waiting for Tear Gas" as an
, from hts 1999 proJect
cite Allan Sekula s commentary . f . hoto). ournalism: no flash, no
. . " 1 f h mb for thts sort o antt-p
insptratwn: The ru e o t u f press pass and no pressure to
s mask no auto- ocus, no
telephoto zoom ens, no ga ' . . 1 "2l
d fi . a imaae of dramatiC vto ence.
grab at all costs the one e mn" " h k - hotography movements of the
'f . ly vaguely t e wor er p
Recalling, 1 somettmes on ,h h . the Soviet Union and Germany,
h ntury (sue as t ose m . .
earlier part of the rwenuet ce . ) h F m Security Administrauon, m
h Umted States , or t e ar
and the Photo League m t e h . d' ' d 1 there are more photographer- and art-
h d
y overt e tn tV! ua , .
which the group a pnmac h 11 d Facing Change: Documenung
. . f oday.22 T e group ca e .
ist-dnven collecuves ormmg t fi ll ctive of dedtcated photo-
d 'b itself as "a non-pro t co e
America, for example, escn es l A erica and to build a forum to
. . together to exp ore m .
journahsts and wnters commg . h F c ng Change websne had pho-
,,. A t opemng screen on t e a
chart its future. _, recen . . f those who wash cars, anot er
m t to orgamze a umon or
tographic reports on an atte p d N y k City communities, and one
f H . San y on ew or
on the various impacts o urncane h 11 . some with only a handful
. . . . h U S West. Ot er co ecuves,
on the housmg cnsts m t e . . . f . a desire to collaborate and to
of people in them, are created for a vanety o reasons.
A Dialecrical Journalism 39
a community within which to work; a shared o . . .
shanng business tasks, studio spa d fi . p. llt!calJdeology; the advantages of
ces, an nanc1al nsk d
group IS a better way to get mes 1 . s, an a sense that working in a
. sages OUt a ong With " h f r
t mg greater than myself " a f ' t e ee mg of being part of some-
, s one ormer member u . I
2ou conference sponsored by th D h D P tIt. n Amsterdam, a September
1 . e utc oc Photo F d .
ectives was called, somewhat o . . . 11 " oun ation on the growth of col-
ptimlstica y, End of E
are also acknowledging that conventional m g .
pub1Ishmg venues-print magaz f edJa may no longer be the best
. mes, or example do n
paradise they once sometimes did (F. h d ' or constitute the photographers'
R zz . IVe un red thou d .
o zng Stone were printed some 6 "11. . san copies of Avedon's issue of
f ' I m1 wn cop f h N
eatured Peress's "A Vision of Ir ") Ph . Ies _o t e ew York Times Magazine
cent children remained unmovedan.h h ohtoJournahst Ed Kashi noted that his adoles-
b w en e ad the f
ut were much more impressed d d cover story o National Geogranhic
. . an engage when h bl. h d . r '
su Jeer m multimedia form (his "I K d. e pu Is e a proJect on the same
raq ur !Stan" r M d"
an enormous crowd pleaser). ' on me at e IaStorm since 2oo6, is
In both old and new h
. . arenas, p otographers are redefinin h . .
wnh new narratives and strategies f d. . . . g t roles, expenmenting
h o Issemmatwn wh 1 .
p orographic enterprise even furth L f I e attemptmg to broaden the
er. ess ocused on the
press, t ey employ strategies that b pnorlt!es of the mainstream
ff may e more arcane a d f
o enng to engage the reader differently. n are o ten more complex,
There are man h
y sue proJects that have taken 1 .
although they are not always wide] k P_ ace m recent years or are ongoing,
f 1 y nown, even m the h h.
ew examp es (some of which will b . . d . p otograp Ic community. A
e reviS!te m later chapters):
In James Balog's "Extreme Ice Surve "b .
remote arctic and alpine areas ll1 :z.oo6, cameras are positioned in
to help calculate precisely im the melting of the
record of a planet in crisis 8 ) 1 o and to create a
Site: Currently, 34 cameras are de . ccor t? the Extreme Ice web-
Nepalese Himalaya, Alaska and rhp Ry kat I6 m Greenland, Iceland the
record h th e oc Y Moun tams of th Us Th '
. c m e glaciers ever half hou e . ese cameras
mg approximately 8,ooo frames p y r, year-round dunng daylight yield-
er camera per year."24 '
artistJR, in his "Inside Out"
oversized portraits of sub I p J has created photo-booths that .
h Jects. n one of man h . . pnnr
t. e 20I I Arles photography festival rhe ri y sue mstailations worldwide, at
after the visitors si<>ned p 1 nrs floated down from a processor
society m a positive way Th lf o a p edge to use the photo<>raphs
e se -represe o .. pact
o mdividuals and their stories on th . to increase the impact
own societies, With the stipulation that
the images are not to be used for publicity for any organization, including NGOs.
For JR's 2008-9 project in Africa, "28 Millimeters, Women Are Heroes " pho-
tographs were used to document the faces of individual women living in modest
dwellings in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Sudan-the large prints were used
as roof coverings for their houses as well (page 84). As JR's website notes: "Most
of the women have their own photos on their own rooftop and for the first time
the material used is water resistant so that the photo itself will protect the fragile
houses in the heavy rain season."
Sebastiao Salgado's "Genesis" project, which began in 2004, focuses on the planet's
primal past and is intended to encourage environmental efforts. Images from the
series are featured on Brazilian bank cards from Banco do Brasil, with a small
portion of the proceeds from client transactions regularly going to Institute Terra,
founded by the photographer and his wife, Lelia Wanick Salgado, for the refores-
tation of the Mata Atlantica forest. (Since reforestation began, in I999, some r62
bird species and 2 5 species of mammal are said to have returned to the area, and
more than a million trees have been planted.)
LaurieJo Reynolds is working in "supermax" prisons (segregated, maximum
high-security units) in Illinois Maine, and Virginia, asking people held in long-
term solitary confinement what it is that they would most like to see-real or
imagined- and then, along with others, providing photographs, such as of the
view outside the prison, or of volunteers advocating for prison reform. Among
the requests posted online in late 2012: "the Masonic temple in DC"; "what's left
where the Robert Taylor Homes used to be"; "a heartsick clown with a feather
pen"; "my mom in front of a mansion with money and a Hummer"; "Michelle
Obama planting vegetables in White House garden"; "any Muslim Mosque or
Moorish Science Temple in Chicago or Mecca or Africa"; and "fallen autumn
leaves (whi ch we do not have access to in the 'concrete box' which is deemed
a yard here)."
Working with the activist groups Tamms Year Ten and the
National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Reynolds has used the photo-
graphs as part of a larger campaign for more humane prison conditions. (And
with some success-in January 2013 the Tamms Supermaximum Security Prison
in Illinois was closed.)>
Swedish photographer Kent Klich has created a series of images over several
decades of Beth R., a former prostitute and drug addict living in Copenhagen
(he first chronicled her life in The Book of Beth, published in 1989). More recent
photographs of Beth were presented in his 2007 book Picture Imperfect, with
case histories and photographs from her family album as a child (page 85). The
photographs are paired with a DVD of Beth's daily life for which Beth her-
self was the primary filmmaker the DVD is enclosed within the book. That
short film, Beth's Diary, won the Best Short Documentary award from the
Copenhagen International Documentary Festival, while Klich's book about Beth
was named Best Photography Book by the Association of Swedish Professional
A Dialectical Journalism 41
Photographers. A smaller, third book, Where I Am Now, was published in 2012.
Klich and Beth R. have now known each other for more than thirty years.'9
Over the course of several years, Jennifer Karady has collaborated with soldiers
and veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, restaging aspects of traumatic
war events within their civilian lives (the day a soldier almost died; finding a prone
teenage girl with a badly stitched Caesarean; a Native American female soldier
calmed by the spirits of her tradition; being fired at by a sniper, etc.). The work is
intended to be helpful and even therapeutic for the soldiers, and as a documenta-
tion of a performance that may help others, including those nearby, to understand
what they experienced overseas (page 86).
Several artists, including Celia A. Shapiro and James Reynolds, have undertaken
projects re-creating the last meals of inmates on death row, as a way of drawing
attention to the prisoners' social backgrounds, personalities, and their executions
(page 87). Reynolds's series "Last Suppers," from 2009, contains a photograph of
an unpitted olive on a plastic tray, with the explanation: "Victor Feguer asked for
an unpitred olive because he thought it might grow into an olive tree from inside
him. It was supposed to be [a] symbol of peace." The text for Shapiro's photo-
essay, published in Mother jones in 2004, begins: "When Arkansas executed Rickey
Ray Rector back when Bill Clinton was governor, the mentally impaired inmate
famously set aside half of his last meal-a pecan pie- for after the execution. "JO
Susan Meiselas, in a project she called "Reframing History," returned to Nicaragua
in .1.004 with nineteen murals created from her own photographs made during that
country's Sandinista Revolution twenty-five years earlier (page 88). She placed the
murals at the sites where the imagery was originally made as a way of collaborating
with local communities in visualizing their own collective memory, and to help
better acquaint Nicaraguan youth with their own pastY
For Jim Goldberg's "Rich and Poor," an older but still influential project published
in book form in r98 5, wealthy and poor people in San Francisco were photo-
graphed and then asked to comment on the images portraying them, in their own
handwriting. Their notes are often telling: next ro one portrait of an older couple,
the wife, Regina Goldstine, writes: "Edgar looks splendid here. His power and
strength of character come through. He is a very private person who is not demon-
strative of his affection; that has never made me unhappy. I accept him as he is. We
are very devoted ro each other"; she ends by addressing the photographer with
her wish: "May you be as lucky in marriage!" Her husband, on the other hand, is
rather more phlegmatic: "My wife is acceptable. Our relationship is satisfactory.">'
Photographer Azadeh Akhlaghi's extensively researched restagings of pivotal,
often violent moments in Iranian history point to a diverse and tumultuous past.
For example, in Akhlaghi's 2012 Mirzadeh Eshghi, 3 july 1924, Tehran, the events
leading up to the killing of the dissident writer and poet Mirzadeh Eshghi are
h M
. deh's servant encounters two strangers m
d h
"0 J ne 3ot lrza . . t
recounte t us: n u ; Esho-hi, and they insist that it lS an lrnportan
the street. They want to see M . h " . ut The strangers leave but they
issue The servant tells them that t e poet lS o . d two whole days to get rid of
stand at the corner ohf the horne."
them, but anyway, t ey are sur
. . encil of photographs from 1947-so
Ariella Azoulay's recent tracmgs m p 1 f the Israel-Palestine confhct
t" on of the ear y years o h. h
created both as ocurnenta 1 . 1 C mmittee of the Red Cross, w !C
t the Internauona o f
and as a protest agams . . h . . 1 hotographs due to the pomts o
did not allow her to exhlblt t e p Introducing the project, called
d . h accompanymg texts. . " A 1 y
view expresse m er . W N t to Say Deportanon, zou a
"Unshowable aysd o .b the photograph in a civil
. . d on my no- t to escn e 1. d
argues: "Because ms1ste ". f, d , -namely Israe 1 an
d h
. 1 paradigm o two Sl es ,
that suspen s t e nauona bl" 1 "Jl
wal . . I was not authorized to show them pu lC y.
Pa esuman- .
. "a 2012 roect led by photographers
"Question Bndge: Black Males, . pll bl . "th Bayete Ross Smith and
k W
.ll" Thomas m co a orauon wl .
ohnson and Han 1 lS . , . ll . . h"ch African-Arnencan men
. . . fi deo msta anon m w
Kamal Smclalr, lS a ve-screen Vl 1 e the course of several years-
h h
filmed separate y ov r d .
ask questions t at ot ers- . d both interviewer an mter-
. l b)ects are empowere as fi d
answer thus conventlOna su . . . "My whole thing is, rst an
, ) A the provocanve quesnons. .
viewee (page 89 . rnong . . from the be inning, but I'm gomg to
foremost-and I should have sad thls h bl g. t"l "and "This may seem hke
h d"d ' ' llleave us t e uepnn ., .
it up with W y 1 n t y a w Am I the only one who has problems eatmg
a silly questiOn, but I wadntbto kno . of white people?"
chicken, watermelon, an ananas 1
. illance from below) imagery of spy sate!-
Trevor Paglen's sousvezlla.n.ce allations- ictures that are often blurry
lites, CIA aircraft, and mst . . ap in an approach to that which
remote-make the nearly mvlslble hrnmal) r; Pf include Blank Spots
is frequently ignored and Secret World (2009) and
on the Map: The Dark Geograp yo . d L d apes (2o1o). His most recent
d Classifie an sc
Invisible: Covert Operatwns an p ( 2) concerns the comrnumcanons
d bl
. The Last zctures 20
' d n
project an pu !Catton, h r by training conten s Wl
satellites orbiting the Earth that. Pdagflen, a geograppoetentially for billions of years,
. 1 ft behm rom our era,
become the maJor rums e f Lascaux.l
outlasting the pyramids of Giza and the cave pamtmgs o .
d Klich for example) work directly Wlth
A few of these individuals (Karady an .' d t times possibly even heal-
. . h. h an be suppornve an a .
their subjects m relatiOns lpS t at c .. d"fc lt"es from their past. For her proJect
. 11 b tors to rev!Slt 1 ncu 1 d h
ing, enabling t elr co a ora . h d f 009 Monica Haller ha t e
. , ( ) pubhshed at t e en o
' .
"Riley and Hls Story page 91 , . d h . t's potentially disruptive Impact
. . . d b h also emphasize t e proJec
therapeunc m rnm , ut s e d. d R"l ,
h d
-"I want you to see what this war 1 to 1 ey.
on t e rea er
A Dialectical Journalism 4 3
The all-type cover of the book-which the author argues is not a book-disputes
any conventional reading while calling for a "tactical reader":
This is not a book. This is an invitation, a container for unstable images, a model
for further action. Here is a formula: Riley and his story. Me and my outrage.
You and us.
Riley was a friend in college and later served as a nurse at Abu Ghraib
prison. This is a container for Riley's digital pictures and fleeting traumatic
memories. he could nor full y secure or expel and entrusted to me ....
Pay attention. This experience happens right in your lap. To make it hap-
pen you must read compassionately, then actively. Then rhe experience happens
wherever you take this container and whenever you respond to my invitation.
You and us, yes. Then you and another. This invitation is a model for veter-
ans, families and :friends to speak and share openly with each other. The artwork
and artist are adaptable; you, the tactical reader, can use this object for your own
devices, or you can attend to another archive in need of careful attention. This is
not a book. It is an object of deploymem.H
Haller's project, the first of several similar interventions that she has attempted
(including one with Riley Sharbonno's parents), is intended to help him resurrect
buried memories and deal with some of what he went through in a war that, despite
his efforts to resist it, destabilized his life. Like soldiers, it also "deploys," attempt-
ing to show to others the effects of war's envi ronment of violence. There are pictures
that Riley does not remember taking of events that he does not remember witnessing.
Photographs, once rediscovered, sometimes assuage his guilt because they give a reason
for what happened, even if he might have forgotten it. The volume's mass of particulars,
over the course of its 48o pages, including small texts by Riley, distill the enormous
archive of imagery about the Iraq War to the life of one individual during a single tour
of duty. Some of the grand half-truths that guide our understanding of that war, or any
war, are diminished.
Conceptual artist Alfredo Jaar, who often deals with both photography and vio-
lence, cites a line from the poet William Carlos Williams when one first visits Jaar's
website: "It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day
for Jack of what is found there." Given the enormity of what they have personally wit-
nessed, as well as their desire to engage, it's not surprising that so many have enlarged
their documentary practices, sensitive to "what is found there."
_ http:// www. visualnews.
I h ne " Vzsual News, une I I, .
r. See Paul Caridad, "Smile for the Cel , hotography-trendsnview=infographtc.
com 2012 I / 06/ 1 1/smile-for-the-cell-phone P
llid . .
2. . b com!t/ press_stattsttcs. .
. . h t //wwwyoutu e. I )
See You Tube stattsttcs at: t P . ' P . t for Excellence inJourna tsm,
1. "(The Pew Research Centers roJeC d N "Journa tsm.or"
"YouTube an ews, . I on/ yourube_news.
;;,, '6, "" hrrp>/1-.joomhm.o>gl= y>rrJP f E h ' C>Odid.e<," "Bdiof" CNN .mm,
. D K ow the Reltgton o tt e . d k -rclt"ton-of-
"Pew: Many Amencans on t n ?/ 126/pew-many-amencans- ont- now "
26, 201 2.http:/ / 07
either-presidenttal-candtdate/. . h //
"Otng ttp. WWW. . . . "
6 The Big Picture,, on., . . ]]" cr Creative Practice and Cnttcism,
. b ll' blo "Vtsual Storyte m.,.
7 Tod Papageorge, quoted in Davtd e t :om!entaries. http:/ / .
also features Campbell's own trenc an M ' " in In Our Time: The World as
. d. Fred Ritchin, "What Is agnum.,
8. See Henri Cartier-Bresson, C1teN t: York- Norton, 1989).
Seen by Magnum Photographers ( e . - kaise" Liberation (Paris), July 2-August 8, 198!.
d D don "Correspondance new yor 9 Raymon epar ,
1o. Ibid.
l . (New York: Aperture, 1983). h Name of the Revo utzon
I I From Gilles Peress, Telex Iran: In t e . .f' p "' (London and Washington, D.C.:
. . R. h rd Avedon: Portraits OJ ower P I Roth introduction to IC a
I2. au , S)
Steidl! Corcoran Gallery of Art, zoo .
1). Ibid. N y. k a Bridge and Celebrities on the Edge (New
G Talese Fame and Obscurity: A Book About ew or ' ' '4 ay ,
York: Doubleday, 197o). , ..
. R" h. "What Is Magnum. d
I 5 Cartier-Bresson, cited m ttc m, onal E e," Atlantic, June I966. I am indebte to
D W k field "The Personal Voice and the Impers . I y "New Journalism." http://en.wtkipedta.
r6. an. Ia! \ ug,htful and well-researched Wik!pedta arttc eon
an espeCta Y t o .
Or"/ wiki/ New_journahsm. . Report by Tom Wolfe," Ne'<I. York,
" J 1 m' Eyewttness " h B" h f 'The New ourna ts , 17. Tom Wolfe, T e trt 0
om/ features /
February 14, '97
1 66
http: / /www.esquire.c
ld" Esquire, Apn 1 9 T l "Frank Sinatra Has a Co , !8. Gay a ese,
ESQ -OCT SINATRA_rev_. h ... US Ne'Ws and World
I003 - h M h Anymore about 'Good Photograp y, . .
P "I Don't Caret at uc 19. Gilles cress,
Report, October 6, '997 . W. t (New York: Abrams, 1985)-
R. h d Avedon in In The Amerzcan es
20. tc ar ' . I m/
I I . h tojournahsm.b .
2!. Allan Sekula, cited at http: anttp o . y Need to Know," Wired. com, May 14,
B k " Budding Photo Collectives ou
22. For examples, Pete , fir 12ol2/ o5/ photo-collectives/ .
2012. raw e
, See http:/ / . " I
-3 S " t http//extremetcesurvey.or., .
B I "' "Extreme Ice urvey a . 24- See James a o"' s .
h // r-art net/proJeCts. 25 _ SeeJR's projects at ttp: www.J
A Dialectical Journalism 4 5
26. See the Instituto Terra website http-/ / www. .
" ' .JnStlturoterra us/
27. Photo Requests from Solita " ]; . .
from-solitary d' 1 . ry, amms Year Ten website WWw
- rsp ay-and-drscussion-nov-r7/ . .yeanen.orghoulro/photo-re
. quests-
28. ill January
c . . IJ, amms Supermaximurn Securi . . ou _ k/ l . ' mnesry lnternatron 1 J
closed; see also http// r wor atest-victories/ ramms-superma . a' _anuary ro, 20I3.
. WWw. . XImum-securny-prison-now-
29. See Kent Klich, The Book of Beth (New y: k A
2oo7); and Where I Am Now (Munich: Bellybaonrd. per)ture, '989); Picture Imperfect (Stockholm Jou 1
, 2012 rna>
JO. Clara Jeffery and E T R
Inl Ie aguso, photo-es b .
anuary 20o4. http://wwwmo h . say y Celia A. Shapiro, "LastS "
. t I 11 uppers, Mother }ones
3 I. See "Refrarning History" h
4 or ast-suppers/. '
p at ttp: //wwwsu . l
from a Revolution (r99I), made by Sec also the film
;rrer the publication of her book o: :e Alfred _Guzzctti, document-
. ew or :Pantheon, I98r ), to track down the eo n . sra evo!u.non, Nicaragua: June
32. ]1m Goldber<> Rich and p (N P pie l.fl the books rmages
. o oor ew York: Random House r 8 .
33- See Anella Azoul Dijjrl: ' 9 5).
ay, ';erent Ways Not to Sa D .
20IJ). Y eportatzon (Vancouver Fill' Ed' .
. 'P ltions, forthcoming
34 See Trevor Pa<>len's web .
o SHe:
35 Monica Haller Riley d H. S .
' an lS tory (P
2009/zorr). ans ana Varnamo Sweden 0 P
' . nestar ress/Fiilth and Hassler,
Making Pictures Matter
What then are the potentials for a reinvented visual journalism?
When photography was introduced in the nineteenth century, many feared that
painting, as a result, would die. Instead a renaissance occurred, with an expansion of both
technical and conceptual strategies. Many of the most talented artists, now considering
themselves freed from the task of direct representation, chose newer, more explicitly sub-
jective ways of seeing the world-Impressionism, Cubism, Pointillism, Expressionism,
and on into the future of new painterly movements, installations, video art, and so on.
One stimulus was financial-photography was a more efficient recording medium and
consequently representational painters lost clients- but the more important desire to
rethink their medium opened up inquiries that fomented an artistic revolution.
Photographers today are also losing clients-to nonprofessionals making their own
wedding albums, doing their own portraits, covering their own revolutions, as well as
taking on all the other functions that are lumped under the rubric of "citizen journal-
ism." And some photographers, partially as a result, are also looking for their own
renaissance so as to transform and amplify their reach.
But the urge to pronounce photography dead today also might be contested by
another idea: the introduction of expanding digital media challenges photography-
now the elder medium-to transform itself. While digital media are considerably more
efficient and cheaper, easier to master and to distribute, in their near omnipresence they
may lack a sufficient singularity (what Walter Benjamin referred to as "aura") as well
as enough subtlety to engage viewers deeply, or even to provoke their sustained atten-
tion. Current criticisms of the Internet, with its billions of images online, are in fact
reminiscent of earlier critiques of photography, such as Charles Baudelaire's famous