Friday, 14 August 2009

Twin Paths

Reading around the various photography blogs this week, one topic seems to appear again and again - the state of photojournalism today. It's no secret that the photo story is under threat due to financial constraints and changing markets. Put simply, photojournalism is often no longer a viable option for newspapers and agencies that are under financial strain anyway. Celebrity sells and images of dying kids in Africa don't, so you go where the money is. It's that simple.

I studied documentary photography at college and I LOVE photojournalism, but even i had to take a step back to see how i was going to make a living. In the last post i talked about Elliott Erwitt, a Magnum photographer who is regarded as one of the best documentary photographers of the 20th century. Erwitt has been a big influence on my artistic understanding of photography, but he has also been a massive influence on my understanding of the business of photography for Elliott Erwitt is a successful commercial photographer too. He combines the income of commercial work with the passion for photojournalism, which enables him to live his life as he wishes. I choose that commercial/photojournalism balanced business model too. I compromised.

I admire immensely those photographers who are loyal to their photojournalism roots. Maybe i sold out. I don't know, but what i do know is photography is a real bitch to make money out of. Trying to make a good living from photojournalism is bordering on impossible. Even the best photojournalists earn surprising low amounts of money, and these are award winning, top of their game types. Being a photojournalist is for many akin to a religion - there is no financial reward but you are following a calling. It's all about passion and faith... in photography. Photojournalism isn't going to die out but it is going through immense change. Many outlets for images are under threat, and tomorrow, I'll post about how photojournalism might change in the years ahead.

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