Ed was asked recently by Whitney Johnson at the New Yorker magazine how he defined photojournalism today. Below is his response, illustrated with examples that highlight the 3 distinct parts of Ed’s definition.
PART I: Photojournalism is a unique and powerful form of visual storytelling originally created for print magazines and newspapers but has now morphed into multimedia and even documentary filmmaking. Through the internet, apps and the mobile device explosion, photojournalism can now reach audiences never before imagined with immediate impact, while continuing to write our visual history and form our collective memories.
In recent years, Stephen Ferry, self proclaimed “non-fiction photographer,” was the recipient of the Audience Engagement Grant from the Open Society Foundations for his body of work “Violentology: A Manual of the Colombian Conflict.” The photo essay is being made manifest in a book release (2012, Umbrage Editions), exhibitions, booklets, a video and a blog. The work is an exquisite example of photojournalism and the multi-platform approach that is being utilized today.
PART II: Photojournalism works on multiple levels, from covering breaking news and wars, to forming visual narratives and feature stories that help to illuminate and clarify the issues of our time with a depth and perspective that few other mediums can achieve. The universal nature of photography and the ability to capture time and freeze it in a way the mind remembers is a searing and unique quality of this medium.
PART III: Photojournalism can also work as an agent of change, often outside of its role in mainstream media. This tradition harks back to its earliest days and confirms its roots in advocacy and the documentary tradition. When practiced as long form, in depth, personal storytelling, photojournalism expands the aesthetics of visual reporting, justifies its grand intentions of enlightenment and contributes to our deeper understanding of the world.
from above “The work he did in Nigeria has become the most significant of his career, says Kashi, but it is the impact of this one photo that makes him the most proud. After seeing the picture, a woman in New York State was moved to find Paulinous Uko and connect him with a benefector, who is now paying for the young man’s education.”
“50 Greatest Pictures.” The National Geographic Magazine Special Edition: p 67 and iPad App 2011.