July 30th, 2010
All photography students want to end up as famous as Ansel Adams, but fame is only one aspect of photography. Contrary to what most budding photographers believe, photography has been in existence for nearly two hundred years. While obviously there have been many technological advances, this is not a new art form, and many artists have been able to play around with different forms and different mediums. We have now moved on from just the simple camera to cameras in our phones, our iPods/iPads, and anything else with a technological edge to it. Photography is now the layman’s art form, as simply logging into your Facebook account will show you; I myself have at least thirty friends who consider themselves photographers on Facebook, taking “artsy” pictures of railyards and sunsets.
However, it takes more than simple “edgy” scenes to stand out in the photography world. Because this form of art requires little actual art skill, especially when compared to painting or sculpting, everyone now thinks they are a photographer. In this modern world of photographers, we are left to wonder how photographs and their “artists” make a difference in our world – both artistic and realistic.
Photojournalists are the best example of photographers who have made a difference in our world. Many of them have risked life and limb to be able to report to us from the frontlines of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, photographing many of the worst scenes our country has ever witnessed. This in turn takes us back a few more years, to the Gulf War, and the realization that the Middle East and Africa are not as stable as we thought they were. Kevin Carter brought many of the impoverished realities to light in 1994 after his photograph of a starving Sudanese baby next to a vulture hit newsstands around the world. This photograph revealed to what extent photojournalists distanced themselves from their subject – Carter left right after taking the photograph and did not find out what happened to the child. He received worldwide criticism for this move, although it made many of us question whether photographers abroad were doing more harm than good.
Since this point, photographers reporting for news organizations have managed to change their image in the international spotlight and now report on the atrocities that are occurring within other countries in an effort to garner worldwide support to combat the epidemics. Photojournalists in Iraq, for instance, base their careers on revealing to the world the hardships our soldiers have to undergo in this foreign nation, as well as the hardships ordinary Iraqi citizens have been forced to endure. Many of these accounts are a wake-up call for leaders around the world, and are no longer the critical eye they once were.