History of Photojournalism

History of Photojournalism

Original story



Photographs explained.

  • I used a photograph of a burned cigarette to symbolise the life (and possible end of) of Karl Andree.
  • I used a photo of a “Día de Muertos” skull to symbolise the expected death of Mr. Andree. The skull is used in Aztec culture to symbolise death. I decided to take the photograph using a Dutch angle, also known as Dutch tilt, canted angle or oblique angle to show the fact that Andree’s life has been thrown into chaos, and turned upside down.
  • The photograph of the La Croix Rizla packet was used as a visual “play on words” if you will. The writing and illustration on the packet resembles the flag of Saudi Arabia. Another reason for doing this is that the Rizla, and smoking is attributed to cancer, and Andree is a cancer survivor.
  • The spider web image has been used to represent the Saudi judicial system. Karl Andree could be symbolised by a fly that has been caught in this web. It was so easy for him to fall into trouble, but it has taken a lot for him to try to escape death.
  • The photo of the false eyelashes was used in a tongue-in-cheek way, the fact that the average human has 350 Eyelashes mirrors the punishment put before Mr Andree.
  • The spiral staircase in this photograph is simply a metaphor for Karl’s life, since he was imprisoned, his life has spiralled out of control.
  • The photograph of the wine on the supermarket shelf basically is a visual reminder as to why Karl is in prison in the first place.
  • The Budgerigar in the cage in the next photograph, again, is simply the representation of Mr Andree in the prison cell.
  • Again, the photograph of the wineglass laid on the floor is representative of the reason behind Andree’s incarceration.
  • I decided that one of the best ways to show the story would be to include a photograph of a page from a British passport. Karl Andree is a British citizen. I purposely took a photo of page 12 to represent the amount of months that he was originally imprisoned for.
  • Curtains are used to show death in many ways. The phrase “Final curtain call” has been used as a euphemism for death on many occasions, To close the curtains on something means to forget about it, and Mr Andree served 2 months more that he was sentenced to, so it seems as though the Saudi Government forgot about him.
  • The final photograph I took was a watch with the hands directly at noon, which is normally when capital punishment is served. I also did this to show the amount of months that Karl was originally sentenced to. 12.

History of Photojournalism.

With the invention of the first 35mm camera by Leica, a German company, came the birth of Photographic Journalism. This was revolutionary because in order to take photographs, photographers no longer were required to carry around large tripods in order to get a clean, perfectly exposed photograph. The term “Photojournalism” (Portmanteau or Photographic and Journalism) was coined by Frank Luther Mott in the 1930’s. Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, however, led to the suppression and conviction of many news organisation editors. Many German editors fled to the United States of America to continue with their careers out of any harm. So the term “Photojournalism” only became a widely used term after WWII.

During WWII the most influential and crucial role in the development of Photojournalism was Life Magazine, many of the world’s most influential photographs today were published in such magazines.

The Golden age of Photojournalism has been narrowed down to between 1935 to 1975, This was due to the fact that a photograph in a magazine could portray an image a lot better than television of that era. People could see clearly the emotions on the subjects face, the situation and the setting.

In the mid 1980’s however, photojournalism turned around it’s approach to telling stories. Prior to the 1980’s, photographs were accompanied by fully detailed stories. The 1980’s changed this, now, instead of having an accompanying story, the photograph was the story.

Eugene Smith.  

William Eugene Smith (1918-1978). The Career of Smith started when he became a photographer for 2 of his local newspapers, The Wichita Eagle (morning circulation) and the Beacon (evening circulation). He later moved to New York City to work for Newsweek, but was fired for refusing to use their equipment. He then began a career as a photographer for Life Magazine, an influential photojournalism magazine. This is where he began using the revolutionary 35mm camera.

During WWII, Smith travelled alongside the men fighting along the Pacific theatre where he would take photographs of the carnage unfolding between the American forces and the Japanese offensive. In 1945, Smith was hit by Mortar fire in Okinawa, Japan, but he recovered and continued working with Life until 1954.

In the early 1970’s, Smith became one of the most well known photojournalists in history when he travelled to Japan to try to capture images of the cruel Minamata Disease, which is a poison induced disease, caused by a Chisso factory discharging heavy metals

 into water sources around Minamata. in 1972 Smith was attacked by Chrisson Company employees near Tokyo, in an attempt to stop him from further publicizing the effects of Minamata disease to the world. He survived the attack, but lost sight in one eye, so had to stop working for a length of time. His wife took over his work. The photographs were  published in 1975 as “‘Minamata’, Words and Photographs by W.E. Smith and A.M. Smith”. The attack served no purpose, and incidentally, brought the effects of Minamata Disease to the public eye.

Smith risked his life on multiple occasions in order to take photographs. Philippe Halsmann famously asked Smith “When do you feel that the photographer is justified in risking his life to take a picture?”. To which he replied;

“I can’t answer that. It depends on the purpose. Reason, belief and purpose are the only determining factors. The subject is not a fair measure. I think the photographer should have some reason or purpose. I would hate to risk my life to take another bloody picture for the Daily News, but if it might change man’s mind against war, then I feel that it would be worth my life. But I would never advise anybody else to make this decision. It would have to be their own decision. For example, when I was on the carrier, I didn’t want to fly on Christmas Day because I didn’t want to color all the other Chistmases for my children.”

Walter Eugene Smith died of a stroke in 1978, at the age of 59.

W. Eugene Smith - Minamata
W. Eugene Smith – Minamata

Robert Capa

Robert Capa (Born Endre Friedmann) (1913-1954). Capa moved from Germany to France because of the rise of Nazism, and persecution of Jewish journalists and photographers but found it extremely difficult to pursue a career as a freelance photographer. Capa’s first published photograph was of Leon Trotsky making a speech in Copenhagen on “The Meaning of the Russian Revolution” in 1932.

Between the years of 1936 and 1939, Capa worked in spain as a photographer covering the Spanish Civil War. In 1936 he rose to fame when a photograph he had taken, entitled “The Falling Soldier”. The photograph is of a soldier, Federico Borrell García, at the moment of his death, he has just been shot in the chest and is falling backwards. This image was soon sent around the globe making Capa famous. During WWII, Capa was sent to various parts of the European Theatre on photography assignments. He first photographed for Collier’s Weekly, before switching to Life after he was fired by Collier’s. He was the only “enemy alien” photographer for the Allies.

In late 1943, Capa was stationed with the troops in Sicily, in a town heavily guarded by Nazi troops. One of the most notable photographs that Capa captured during his time in Italy was of a  Sicilian peasant indicating the direction in which German troops had gone, very near the Castle of Sperlinga.

His most famous photographs were taken at the landing of American troops on Omaha Beach. “The Magnificent Eleven” are a collection of photographs of the D-Day troops on the day of the landing as they are storming the beach. Whilst being shot at constantly, Capa shot 106 pictures, but only 11 survived after an accident at a photographic development centre in London.
in 1954 whilst shooting photographs of troops and war zones during the First Indochina War, Capa stood on a land-mine. He was still alive when medics arrived at the scene, but his left leg was blown off, he also suffered chest injuries and later succumbed to his injuries. He is buried in New York.  

Robert Capa - The Magnificent Eleven
Robert Capa – The Magnificent Eleven

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