Project 2 Photojournalism

Research point.

First of all, I have ordered another book, Basic Critical Theory for Photographers by Ashley la Grange. I will add a book review once this has been read.

Next. I have spent some time researching the point of atrocity photographs losing their impact. In May of this year I plan to visit Auschwitz, Poland and I have already done significant research for this visit. This has included reading and listening to accounts from inmates and the SS guards at the camps. The inmates who had to do the most unimaginable “things”to their dead friends, family and country folk clearly became desensitized to the death, torture, the sights, sounds and smells from all around them. Some of them who had to load the bodies in the crematorium, freely admit the sights and smells etc., did not bother them after a time. They did switch off. Therefore, logic states that if we, as the general public are constantly saturated with images, displaying death and violence, then the images will lose their shock horror impact. This has already been discussed by me, partly in Part one, where I have talked about how the UK’s images on Syria are very much censored, in comparison to those in Arabic countries.

Rosler does have a point, but this is an opinion and not a fact and photographers such as Hine, and my ex-tutor Les Monaghan, who highlight social issues, may reinforce the gap between the rich and the poor, but I feel their work is worthwhile (essential), as such images need to reach the public. Without such work, some (most) of the population may never get any exposure to such social issues e.g. extreme poverty in the UK and therefore the good surely outweighs the negative impact.


Image taken from  Monaghan, L (2017) Relative Poverty, Available at: 21/03/2017).

Sometimes we change our views, as did Susan Sontag regarding immunity of the shock value offered by images. This is not a bad trait to have and by changing our viewpoints , we can demonstrate evidence of further learning and education.

As photographers, we need to change our methodology, as to employ one single method of portrayal forever will cause problems of boredom in the viewer, desensitization, lack of interest and the accusation that we are approaching problems in a single-sighted way.

If we ignore the things in life that will shock and upset us, they will remain hidden and buried away forever, but we need to strike a balance between shock tactics and being tactile and thinking of ways to deliver the message we want to.

To be a good documentary photographer, you do not necessarily need to be an insider, but topical research would be essential to allow you to better understand the subject, culture and the issues at hand. Any photographer will have an opinion on the subject they are photographing, in some way, to be able to recorded the series with feeling. Without any subjectivity, the work will appear bland and featureless. Knowledge is power.

There is a place in war photography for different styles, i.e. late or atrocity and many more,  as in the work of Frank Cappa whose blury images have been copied in Hollywood films such as Private Ryan and the latest film Hacksaw Ridge.


Image taken from  Chillee (2009) photo from Omaha, Available at: (Accessed: 21/03/2017).

There is no one size fits all answer. If this was the case, we would all shoot the same way and no one would get bored with that method. If that were the case we would all be automatons. As it is we are human and have human traits, which evolve and change with time.

I will continue and expand upon my thoughts throughout this course with reflection upon these initial thoughts.



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