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Photojournalism

Julianne H. Newton


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Photojournalism means reporting visually. Yet this simple definition belies the complexity of a professional media practice whose mission remains constant, while the means of fulfilling that mission and the degree to which one believes it can be fulfilled shift along with technology, culture, and perception. The defining characteristic of photojournalism is visual portrayal, with contextualizing verbal information, of an event – an observable occurrence that can be as simple as the fleeting moment of a child's smile or as complex as a country's struggle to rebuild after war. Henri Cartier-Bresson , often described as the greatest photojournalist of the twentieth century, defined the decisive moment as “one moment at which the elements in motion are in balance” (1952): “Photography must seize upon … and hold immobile the equilibrium of” that moment. A founding member of the great picture agency Magnum, Cartier-Bresson believed effective picture stories required engaging the heart, mind, and eye: through “recognition of a rhythm in the world of real things,” the eye finds and focuses “on the particular subject within the mass of reality” and the camera registers “the decision made by the eye.” Photojournalism images fall into five categories: spot news (significant, unplanned events); general news (ongoing issues and activities); features (interpretative essays about lives, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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