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Review: City Love

Photojournalists are not all professionals. They all have to start somewhere.

Sydney Cavanagh is a young photojournalist who blogs about her travels and pictures into a nicely written prose.

The work i am reviewing is City Love.

It documents her travel to the Big Apple, what she sees and feels at the time. Her images are wonderfully shot, just like any professional photographer, with objectivity and narrativity going through each of her pieces. It also contains timelessness in each, with a subtle emotion going through  making them stand out.

[Picture copyright of Sydney Canavagh]

A full display of her images can be viewed on shutterfly.

City Love portrays a love for a city that never sleeps, and her images portray it well. She picks up on the every day events and makes them unique. Giving them another meaning of strength.

As a whole, her blog shows how well she picks up on the natural events of life, showing others that you don’t have to be world famous photojournalist to get good images, but you just need the inspiration and will power to work towards a powerful picture.

The reason why photojournalists are even considered to be like journalists, is the fact that they do often make decisions instantly,  often while exposed to many significant obstacles such as physical danger, the weather and vast crowds.

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Modern Photojournalism (1920-1990)

Photography was invented in the 1840s, but it was in the 1920s when photography became modern. This was possible with invention of the first 35mm camera, the Leica.

This had enabled the photographer to go anywhere and take as much photos with a smaller equipment to take the  shots. The difference was without a doubt, has a dramatic effect for primarily posed photos. It had made  people aware of the photographer’s presence and  to see a new and natural photographs of people as they really lived.

Photo magazines started emerging from the mid 1920s. It was Life magazine which  created a new general-interest magazine which relies mostly on modern photojournalism. It was published weekly and became immediately popular, it even created copy-cat magazines, such as Look, See, Photo, Picture, Click and so on. (Life magazine finally folded in 2001).

In the world war II era, Life was seen as one of the most influential photojournalism magazine in the world. It published  some of the most dramatic pictures of  conflict, during the war. These photos did not come often from the newspapers but from the weekly photojournalism magazines, and it is these photos that still are famous today.

Photographs such as the Arthur Rothstein’s  “dust bowl photo”, or Dorothea Lange’s”Migrant Mother, can still be viewed today.

[Migrant Mother, 1936. By Dorothea Lange]

Photography has always been driven by technology. This is because photography, more than any other visual art, is built around machines and, at least until recently, chemistry.

By the 1990s photojournalists were already shooting mostly in colour and had made actual prints, but with the use of  computer technology to scan film directly into the design, it was the beginning of the new millennium.

Photojournalists were no longer using film as  digital photography had become so universal, it was both faster and cheaper in an industry preoccupied with both speed and profit.

Colour had become the standard for “legacy media,” for newspapers and magazines, as well as for web news sites. Colour printing technology also requires a higher quality image, so photojournalists have  to adapt their methods to accept fewer available light images.

Most publications are looking for eye-grabbing colour and not necessary in black and white.  As colour demands correction to avoid greenish or orangeish casts from artificial light, this has meant photojournalists, have to have even more sophisticated new cameras, sometimes returning to the methods of their ancestors by carefully setting up lights and posing their subjects.

You will often find, if you compare published photography today to that to 25 years ago, many fewer candid photos, less spontaneity, fewer feature photos of people grabbed at work or doing something outside. In fact,the subject is aware of the camera, just as they were before the 1960s, in the beginning  of the quest for naturalism in photojournalism.

Photojournalism is still very much needed. It documents the usually unseen and unknown as well as having access to where most can not go, e.g: War, Afghanistan. Photojournalism is a powerful visual tool, which speaks to the viewer on many levels. This is why it will always be in publication.

[Accidental Napalm attack, 1972. By Nick Ut]

Think of any single photo which speaks volumes.  Most will think of  Tiananmen Square in China, and you’d possibly recall the man facing down tanks. Think of the Gulf  War, the wounded soldier crying over a comrade will come to mind. Think Vietnam War, and the execution of a Vietcong, or of the naked girl running, as she was a napalm victim. The single image still holds some defining power in our society.

World’s first combat photojournalist

The world’s first combat photographer is considered to be Carol Popp de Szathmari (1812-1887). He had decided to take his camera into the battlefield, using a wagon he had specifically made to fit a dark room into it. He would process glass plates with wet collodion.

[Crimean War: Turkish Artillery. (1854)]

He would photograph the various troops and their commanding officers, of both Russian and Turkish armies. He had exhibited all of his photos and had bond them in a book at the Paris WorldExposition in 1855. His album was much praised and he was present with many awards as Szathmari’s photographs were the first photographic image of war (prior to Roger Fenton‘s photographs a year later).

[Crimean War: Turkish artillery Officers. (1854)] 

Szathmari had offered his works to Queen Victoria and to Emperor Napoleon III as well as other royalties. Unfortunately, none of his works can be seen to this day as none of his albums had survived, yet his name does live on. The album which was in Queen Victoria’s procession was burned in 1912 during a fire at Windsor Castle.

Szathmari was born on 11th January 1812 in Cluj, Kolozsvar (Romania).  He was of noble descent and had studied former as a painter before becoming a passionate traveller. This is most probable that he had acquired his need to capture events around him from his travels.

[Crimean War: Russian volunteers (from Bulgaria)(1854)]

It was by 1848, when he had begun to experiment with photography. With the outbreak of the Russian -Ottoman War in late June 1853, there were many generals and other high ranking officials who came to be immortalised in photograph. He had made many acquaintances like this. It was in April 1854 when he had filled a wagon with his camera and glass plates and headed for the Danube border to record the fight between the Russian and Turkish armies.

Not only was he awarded many awards for his photographs, but he also had exhibitions and many publications in magazines and newspapers of his work.

Szathmari had worked with photography, painting and lithography in his career.

[All information was gathered from two websites as well as the Royal Collection].

Focus: G.M.B. Akash

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“My fascination for the captured image was uncontainable and overcame everything — even my inexperience. Not knowing what I was doing or why, I went everywhere shooting anything and everything that caught my attention. The only thing I was certain of were the subjects I photographed. I concentrated on people living on the edge of society because their faces, lives, and living conditions held a particular fascination for me. Gradually I became absorbed in their daily lives for months on end, learning from their experiences. My desire to capture it all on film pushed me to go to places and to meet people I never would have encountered otherwise. Each visit gave me a deeper understanding of humanity.”

“Today, I count myself blessed, having become a photographer. To be able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless, to bring their identity to the forefront, gives meaning and purpose to my own life.”

“To me, photojournalism is a huge responsibility and a tough job. A photojournalist must be honest, hard worker, punctual, and he or she must respect other people.”

“This is not a job about making money or succeeding; it is about pursuing art, and opening people’s eyes. That is the responsibility of every photographer.

“With every picture you take, you enter a space that is unknown to you as a photographer. In the beginning it feels like forbidden territory, a place you are not supposed to enter surrounded by borders of privacy you are not supposed to cross. You, the photographer, are there at a factory, an old home or a brothel with your simple black bag hanging from your shoulder, eying everything around you as you are eyed by the people there.”

“It is challenging to work with so many international magazines. Bangladesh is not an internationally important country. I’ve met so many people who even don’t know where Bangladesh is. Magazines seem to only want photographs from Bangladesh when there are big floods or big disasters.”

The Start of Photojournalism

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

In every news story, the image is a key element to give visuals on what they are reading about. To emerge the audience into the story, where words can not.

But pictures and photographs were not corporated into journalism at all. It was all about the written words. For example, The old established Times had pages covered in small fonted words, hardly without space.

It was not until Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French  painter who changed his interests to photography, who is considered to be the father of modern photojournalism.

Henri Cartier- Bresson had sought moments which he considered ‘decisive’ and captured them with his camera. One of those moments were ‘Military Appraisal at Moscow Trolley Stop’ (1954).

Behind this picture, Cartier-Bresson was preparing for a book record in Moscow, of the daily life of its population and this image contains many evidence. For instance, wires over the sky, and soldiers patrolling on the streets of a Soviet nation, with high polished boots and hats. Everything is uniformed and seems well engineered. This is what Lenin had wanted in the first place, to be the ‘engineer of souls’.

For more pictures, the Times website has a full photo essay on his works.