Photojournalism Career Not as Picture Perfect as it Once Was

In his New York Times’ interview, renowned photojournalist Donald R. Winslow laments the end of the once illustrious career field he bleed his heart and soul into. His interview is shockingly blunt about his perspective of the decline of photojournalism due to the widespread mainstream use of cameras and the decreasing amount of newspapers and journalism funding. I was shocked by his depressing attitude towards a career he dedicated so much of his life to. But, the evidence for his perspective painted a bleak picture. It is a very expensive career and with a salary that does not match up with the equipment prices and living expenses, especially if you are paying off student loans. The outlook of this career does not seem bright.  However, I disagree with his opinion that there has been a philosophical devaluation of photography. Everyone and their mother may walk around taking pictures with an iPhone, but it takes a special eye and talent to take a photo that creates emotion within the viewer. And people notice photos like this. The images are burned into your memory and come with attached emotions. Newspapers may be cutting back on their photojournalism staff and outsourcing for photos, but the quality of them will surely decline. A story is completed by visuals, and a bad visual can negatively impact the story. I agree with Leslye Davis in her New York Times interview that there is still value in good photos and talented photographers. There should be a difference between photos in the New York Times and your Instagram feed.


Photojournalism is still a vital career in gaining the whole perspective of a story. Imagine life-changing events without pictures. Would learning of famines across the world leave as big of an impression without a photo of a starving child? Would people outside of New York remember 9/11 so vividly without photos? Photos leave impressions that go beyond words when creating emotion. To get the full story, newspapers need photojournalists. The recent increased accessibility of cameras is great for getting images in remote areas, but citizens with iPhones or untrained reporters should not be wholly responsible for capturing photos to accompany hard hitting stories. The difference a photojournalist makes is their passion and trained eye. A trained photojournalist and a random citizen can take a picture of the same scene, with the same equipment, but the photojournalist can get an angle that arouses emotion and creates deeper feelings for the viewer that someone else could never capture. Newspapers could choose to get their photos from photo agencies, a new in-between option. This option is not as good as having a photojournalist staff, however, because there is less focus on the quality and more on accepting any available image.

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The decline in newspapers has caused a serious blow to all forms of journalism in the age of digital media. A lot of photojournalists, like James Foley, accepted the meager pay and have gone freelance, chasing dreams more than a paycheck. This lifestyle is not reasonable for everyone looking to become a photojournalist, however. A photojournalist looking to work at a newspaper should be able to juggle multiple roles- writer, videographer, and photographer. This puts a lot of strain and pressure on one person, but in the age of declining print publication staff members need to be flexible.


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