Since I first discovered my love for photography at the age of 13, I have always distinguished between fine art photography and photojournalism. As a junior high and early high school student, I regularly snubbed photojournalism. I never studied it, but generalized it to be a cheaper, more “accessible” form of photos. I saw no meaning in the photos I glanced at in newspapers. But then again, I really wasn’t paying attention.
My junior year of high school marked the beginning of my interest in journalism. With it, I was forced to take some photos to go along with my stories. Capturing the decisive moments in a clearly communicable, yet pleasing way for the audience turned out to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. It was then, as I returned time after time with medicore photos to go along with my stories, that I realized photojournalism too was an art that required a different sort of technique than the landscape, architectural, and atmospheric photography I was used to.
I became fascinated by what LaBelle calls “the hunt”. Initially this hunt did not focus on the shooting aspect. Instead, I became fascinated with finding images that were considered photojournalism, yet appealed to me artisically and, with their human element, spoke to me emotionally as well. It was then that I began to see the complexities of photojournalism.
While reading LaBelle’s piece, these complexities were further outlined for me. Though I had already begun to understand the qualities of a good hunter (these are very similar to qualities of a decent photographer in general), the qualities of a good feature photo were mainly new to me. The quality of capturing interaction I find particularly elusive, and it ties back rather well with the necessary skill of blending in and remaining invisible in order to capture the moment.
Although I still am unsure if I would consider myself a photojournalist, it is no longer out of ignorant pretension, but rather out of awe and respect for those photojournalists who spontaneously capture moments in our world so perfectly.