The History of Photojournalism. How Photography Changed the Way We Receive News.

Photojournalism Now

With the decline of photo-magazines, and print journalism in general, photojournalism has evolved. Seen as an art form in its own right, specific prizes like World Press Photo and, since 1968, the Pulitzer Prize award the best in the field each year. Divided into eight categories, from sports to long-term projects, the variety of entries for the World Press Photo awards shows the continued breadth and depth of the field.

The emergence of digital technologies has also changed photojournalism. In a field where journalistic ethics rules, photo manipulation is a serious consideration. While war photography has a history of staged photos, especially due to historic limitations in technology, photojournalists work with the idea that scenes must not be staged or manipulated. With digital manipulation easier than ever, accuracy is a serious consideration. In fact, up to 20% of entries to World Press Photo are eliminated before the final round due to post-production or manipulation violations.

hurricane sandy benjamin lowy TIME cover

The cover of TIME Magazine's November 12, 2012 issue. The cover, shot by Benjamin Lowy, was done with an iPhone.

Certainly, social media and its immediacy have also had a great impact on the role of photojournalists. With many media outlets simply picking up photo and video footage from social media users, a tide of content quantity over quality must be balanced. The immediacy that technology affords has also aided photojournalists, giving them the ability to send high-quality photos in seconds.

As publications rely more on freelancers rather than staff photographers, some like Everyday Africa collective, use social media to get their work out and shine a light on topics often ignored by mainstream media. Photojournalist Benjamin Lowy is known for his work using an iPhone. By embracing, rather than shunning, the capability of mobile phone photography, his work landed him the cover of TIME in 2012.

Here's a look at some of the great photojournalists still making an impact today.

Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry - Photojournalist

Bicycles hanging on the side of a train. West Bengal, India. 1983. (Photo: Steve McCurry) READ MORE: Beautiful Photos of India’s Culturally Rich Railroads

Steve McCurry - Photojournalist

Crowds waiting to bathe in the Ganges during Kumbh Mela Festival. 2011 (Photo: Steve McCurry) READ MORE: Unbelievable Photo of Millions of People Waiting

Kitra Cahana

Kitra Cahana documentary photography subcultures

A congregation at The Dirty Kids' Camp. The Rainbow Gathering is an annual festival that takes place around the Fourth of July holiday weekend in a different American national park each year. Part of the point is to celebrate inclusiveness and pray for world peace. The festival attracts hundreds of teenage runaways and travelers who are nicknamed ‘The Dirty Kids'. Santa Fe, New Mexico. 2009. (Photo: Kitra Cahana)

Kitra Cahana documentary photography subcultures

A group of travelers waits for their train to arrive. Savannah, Georgia. 2011. (Photo: Kitra Cahana)

Lynsey Addario

lynsey addario history of photojournalism

Illham holds her seven-week-old baby Faraj in her tent. Greece. 2016. (Photo: Lynsey Addario)

lynsey addario history of photojournalism

Syrian refugees Taimaa Abzali, her husband Muhanned Abzali, their six-month-old daughter, Heln, and son Wael, pack their memories and belongings the night before leaving for relocation in Estonia. Greece. 2017. (Photo: Lynsey Addario)

James Nachtwey

James Nachtwey Photojournalist

Ash, smoke and shattered glass rained down on lower Manhattan following the destruction of the World Trade Center. New York City. September 11, 2001. (Photo: James Nachtwey)

James Nachtwey Photojournalist

A mother cares for her son, sick with Hepatitis E, in a hospital in West Darfur. 2004. (Photo: James Nachtwey)

Benjamin Lowy

Iraq Perspectives - Benjamin Lowy

Iraq Perspectives. Baghdad. 2005. (Photo: Benjamin Lowy)

benjamin lowy contemporary photojournalist

Crude oil washes ashore on Grand Terre Island, a barrier island between Barataria Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana. 2010. (Photo: Benjamin Lowy)

Tomas van Houtryve

Tomas van Houtryve drone photography

A public park is seen from above in San Francisco. 2014. Part of “Blue Sky Days” project, in which the photographer traveled across America, flying a drone over the sorts of gatherings targeted during foreign air strikes. (Photo: Tomas van Houtryve)

Tomas van Houtryve - Drone Photography

House boats appear next to the shoreline of Bidwell Canyon on Lake Oroville in Northern California. Lake Oroville is California's second largest reservoir, and is currently 70% empty as a result of the state's severe drought. 2014. (Photo: Tomas van Houtryve)

Related Articles:

Winning Images from the 2017 World Press Photo Contest

The Heartbreaking Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

35 Quotes From Master Photographers to Inspire You to Take Great Pictures

25 Most Haunting Photos from Hurricane Katrina

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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