Saturday, June 27, 2009

Photojournalism's sad sack world

It strikes me as odd that misery and journalism are best of friends. I recently had the opportunity to see the winners of The World Press Photo Association's pictures of the year. The bulk of the subject matter was war, poverty and pestilence--same as it every was. It seemed to be a contest to see who could depress the most, and don't we know the world has plenty of that.

The bad news for photojournalism is that seeing more of it doesn't lead to a desire to see more of it. At the exhibition I found myself glancing at the wall labels for the bare essence of the problem about to be revealed. Once identified, I could then skim the photos certain that the outcome would prove harsh. The visual process was short circuited into stereotyping for the purpose of awarding the most sad sack story.

With that in mind, along comes the following news in the world of photography awards. The two student winners of the Paris Match photojournalism prize admit that they faked the photos after seeing the winning entries of the previous years' award and concluded that the predicability of photojournalism meant that "something real could be translated into something staged.” What began as a joke proved all too enticing for the judges.

Horses Think has the story along with the British Journal of Photography.

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