Optimism in Photojournalism

As promised, here’s the optimism for today … on the New York Times‘ Lens blog, James Estrin writes about Luzeo Images, a photojournalism collective founded by several UGA Photojournalism alumni, and how they are combatting the “photojournalism is dead” mantra we’ve been hearing since … um … 1930?

No, wait, then we had the Farm Securities Administration work … 1936? No, that’s when the beloved Life magazine relaunched as we know it … 1951? The first live transcontinental television broadcast? No, because we had the great Civil Rights and Vietnam War images … 1972 when Life ceased weekly publication? No, because we had David Burnett’s images from Iran in 1980 … hmm … ahh, the Internet! That killed photojournalism! Except we now can see more of it … The recession? The iPhone? RSS readers? Your mom?

None of that killed photojournalism. Every semester, 32 new students walk into my classroom. Every semester, 32 new students get excited about visual storytelling. Every semester, another group of kids pick up the torch and march around campus with an understanding of the power and importance of photojournalism.

Kill me, kill my academic peers, kill all of our students and kill every working pro out there and … well, some kid is going to find a copy of W. Eugene Smith’s Country Doctor essay and get excited about pictures, stories and photojournalism. We’re like a nasty parasite – you can’t kill photojournalism.

(Thanks to student Lane Johnson and pro Gary Chapman, as well as 297 people on Twitter (and my own RSS reader) for the link.)

Mark E. Johnson

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