One Lens, Many Stories

I have several little mantras I teach my kids about how to do what we do and, more importantly, why we do what we do. To me, this is the most important:

  • To Inform: To let our community know what has happened
  • To Educate: To let them know what it means and how it affects them
  • To Resonate: To create images and stories that linger, that stay with our audience so they can respond

I also spend an inordinate amount of time talking about equipment and, usually, I just say this: it doesn’t matter. Yeah, I am a gear geek, but when I walk out of my office or get out of my car, all that matters is the story.

So a few moments ago I was reading James Estrin’s New York Times Lens blog entry on Jerome Delay, one of the Associated Press’ photojournalists in Africa who has spent much of his recent time there shooting with just one lens. Not even a zoom, just a 50 mm prime lens. In that piece was this comment:

He says that he has to create aesthetic images to get editors and readers to pay attention to the important stories that are happening in Africa.

There it is: Delay’s form of resonate.

If your pictures are about the picture, then you’re missing the point of photojournalism. It’s about the story, never the photographer, never the gear. If I could, as Cartier-Bresson said we never would, be able to develop and print a memory, I wouldn’t carry a camera anywhere – so long as I had a way of sharing, accurately and precisely, what I bore witness too.

Mark E. Johnson

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