Definitive Blog Post: Presentation and Evaluation

On the 24th and 25th of February, I presented my research paper Photojournalism Now: roles and responsibilities at the Herbert Gallery in Coventry. The paper I presented and a recording of me presenting it can be seen below with an evaluation of the experience.

Photojournalism Now: roles and responsibilities

Photojournalism in the digital age is subject to many complexities and the role of the photojournalist continues to develop. Current debates and discussions surrounding the practice of photojournalism include but are not limited to: responsible representation, manipulation, citizen contribution and the evolution of digital technology. With photojournalism expanding and diversifying there appears to be less control over the nature and the authors of the content produced. In addition to this, the parameters of the professional photojournalist are in a continuing state of flux: a concept predating digital, but amplified by it (Ritchin 2014: 13).

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It can be argued that photojournalism formed the understanding of photography as evidence, as it placed a demand on the photographer to create visual representations of the event or issue being investigated (Rosler 2004a: 264). The photograph assumed this demanded role of truth teller despite the apparent limitations to representation posed by the singular framed moment. In addition, despite manipulation always being present in photographic history, speculations about photographic ‘truth’ appeared to gain more prominence (Sontag 1978: 52). The launch of Photoshop Version 1 in 1990 meant that the process of manipulation was accessible to anyone, not just the industry (Adobe n.d.). The resulting ease of manipulation provoked a redefinition of photographic meaning in photojournalism. It now appeared to resemble a visual metaphor instead of the original, evidential form desired. It is thought that digital technology has increased the potential of the image to narrate. However it also appears to have cracked the credibility that the photograph used to possess (Rosler 2004b: 188).

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Analogue photography in photojournalism originated around the framing of a moment, which then became heavily associated with ‘straight’ or evidential photography (Rosler 2004a: 264). These singular images were integrated into the current format of news, acting as an entry point for the viewer. However when forming a narrative in photography, usually a sequence of images is needed. It could be seen that the singular analogue photograph is limited in capacity, bound by the frame (Rosler 2004b: 189 and 190).

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In contrast the digital image is a coded entity, considered as fluid and able to exist in both the latent and manifest state almost simultaneously (Fontcuberta 2014: 37). Although still bound by the edges of the frame digital photography appears to have the capacity to change the current forms of narration.

Ritchin likened digital imagery to that of ‘quantum physics’ (Worth 2013b) where the more we try and investigate and examine, the more the data fluctuates. We can extend this metaphor and describe analogue photography as chemistry in both a literal and conceptual sense. Although there are many possibilities, each one can be explained by a series of chemical reactions, constructed and carried out by the practitioner. It has been stated that the purpose of photography is to be ‘useful in the world’ and the capacity of digital technology could take photojournalism further however it needs the practitioner to become ‘proactive’ and take on the responsibility (Worth 2013b). Perhaps the fluid nature of the digital image will encourage new explorations in this field.


Photojournalism itself emerged with the industrialisation of news and the surge of mass markets, both contributing to the creation of the illustrated magazine, or photo essay (Warner Marien 2002: 8). The evolution of digital technology has allowed photojournalists and photo editors to explore new methods of narrating an event. Where the photo essay was product of industrialisation, digital technology provides the photojournalist with an escape into new forms of media (Worth 2013b). Time Magazine has certainly embraced this liberation by producing dynamic new features like ‘Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek’ (Ritchin 2013: 59)

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‘Faces of The Dead’ (Ritchin 2013: 94)

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and ‘Watching Syria’s War’ (Ritchin 2013: 92).

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The use of moving image, sound, interactivity and creative data visualisation in these features support the explorations into new, effective narrative forms, which perhaps could not be achieved through the single photograph (Rosler 2004b: 189-190). In a recent interview, Stephen Mayes described digital, online photojournalism as rolling, a continuous stream of information (Worth 2013b). This environment is perhaps suited to a more creative, contextualised and comprehensive narrative moving away from the safety of the photo essay format.

The digital native culture has fully accepted the new form of photographic image; the instantaneous nature along with the developing communication infrastructure has helped shape the current mass image culture. This dynamic conflicts with the ideology of Walter Benjamin who discussed the loss of aura through reproduction and proximity. (Benjamin 1992: 225). The tools of this mass image culture can be integrated into photojournalism as demonstrated by Benjamin Lowy, who used a combination of smartphone photography and the application Hipstamatic to produce his images (Ritchin 2013: 68).

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However they were met with negativity, head of a photojournalist festival Jean-Francois Leroy stated that using an app reduced the control over the photograph and actually worked to ‘standardise photography’ (Ritchin 2013: 69). Lowy’s images are accessible and familiar, with the aesthetic and format referencing social media such as Instagram. This technique allows the audience to relate and consume the content easily. However the danger of producing this comfortable imagery is that the content doesn’t work to challenge or provoke the viewer, referencing the current trend of main-stream media producing content the audience want to see not what they need to know (TED 2011). The mass image culture has generated an archive of safe, consumable imagery that works to promote, not provoke.


Current photojournalism can be perceived as ‘Networked’ (Beckett 2008: 2) with citizens and professionals contributing content. The millennium saw an increase of citizen journalism in media with the 911 attacks acting as the catalyst. Imagery from camera phones became more commonplace in photojournalism as the holder of a smartphone can become an instantaneous producer and publisher. This was particularly evident in the coverage of the 2001 Twin Towers attack and the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, which comprised of still image and moving image content.

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The raw aesthetic of citizen camera content often convinces the viewer that fabrication is less likely. Reduced naivety to manipulation has even provoked the public to question aesthetically perfect images, despite any status of legitimacy. The proximity of the citizen to their environment could also improve their representation. This insider status coupled with a greater awareness generates new questions (La Grange 2005: 125). With no belief in the image, and more citizens taking up a camera, is there actually a demand for the professional photojournalist anymore?


Manipulation is a process that was present in analogue photojournalism, however it has gained more awareness in the digital age. Both Ritchin and Rosler addressed the February 1982 National Geographic cover in reference to photographic truth (Ritchin 1990: 26, Rosler 2004a: 271). The distance between the pyramids was digitally altered, potentially destroying their historic association to ‘immutability’ (Rosler 2004a: 270).

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The parameters of manipulation in photojournalism have never been defined which has perhaps allowed instances in which images are changed to achieve ‘conceptual accuracy’ and ‘aesthetic pleasure’. (Rosler: 2004a: 276). Ethical guidelines in relation to the practise of manipulation must be defined in the context of photojournalism (and distanced from conceptualism) to avoid the exploitation of the audience through naivety (Bersak 2006).


A photojournalist’s role can be to construct a representation of victimisation and suffering. There is a responsibility on their part to photograph in a manner that avoids exploitation and misrepresentation, far from Barthes’ original dynamic of operator and target (Barthes 1993: 9). Abigail Solomon Godeau in her ‘Inside/Out’ essay examined the stance taken by photographers in representation of vulnerable subjects, which is especially complex when the photographer isn’t native to the culture and environment. In Kevin Carter’s well-known image, his ‘outsider’ approach could be viewed as imperialistic as there is no personal involvement or connection (La Grange 2005: 125).

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The distance created in the image reduces the relationship between the photographer and subject to an observing eye (Ritchin 2014: 36). However this is the stance photojournalism desires to achieve objectivity. It has produced iconic imagery Barthes would define, as punctum, drawing an emotional response, but is that enough to help the victim? (Barthes 1993: 26-27). A comprehensive understanding of the subject’s situation might establish continuing support from the audience. Perhaps the future structure of photojournalism should begin with an objective ‘outsider’ image to capture audience attention, which then leads to the larger, more informed body of work producing using the ‘insider’ approach (La Grange 2005: 125). This could work to solve the notion of subject exploitation and misrepresentation.


In photographic representation, context is the defining concept, however it is equally important to establish the right context for the final outcome (Rosler 2004a: 263, Johnston: 2011). The photojournalist’s responsibility extends past the action of taking a photograph; the imagery must be circulated to the right channels. Marcus Bleasdale has avoided ‘preaching to the already converted’, (Worth 2013a), choosing to adapt his body of work ‘Rape Of A Nation’ (Bleasdale 2008) into different forms to engage with alternative audiences.

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In contrast to this, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin created the body of work named ‘The Day That Nobody Died’ to comment on the practise of photojournalism (Broomberg and Chanarin 2008).

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The work was pieces of photographic paper exposed to the sun over the course of a day and has been exhibited in the contemporary art community most recently at the Shanghai Biennale. The significance of this work was the conceptual nature, which means it would be most effective in an environment where it would be perceived as art. Although the work is associated with photojournalism, to publish it in the environment of this genre would be taking it out of context and reducing the capacity to communicate effectively. Conceptual photography is a separate genre and needs distancing from the informative imagery normally associated with photojournalism (Rosler 2004a: 259).


It would be accurate to state that the digital age has changed the field of photojournalism, however it would be more perceptive to suggest that it has amplified some of the existing issues. The photograph as evidence has had an unstable history perhaps due to the limitations of the single-image approach (Renaldi 2014). The nature of the digital image and the techniques made available through digital technology has facilitated a new mode of delivery, which is more contextualised (Johnston 2011). Though with the format of print journalism and objective imagery remaining ever present, it appears that a balance of reactionary and proactive, insider and outsider photojournalism is approaching (Worth 2013, La Grange 2005: 125).

However there are considerations that must be addressed such as truthful representation, manipulation, contextual information, circulation to appropriate channels and photographic responsibility (Rosler 2004a: 271, Ritchin 2009: 26, Johnston 2011, Bleasdale 2008). In addition, the parameters of the professional in the current state of photojournalism still need establishing in order to maintain quality in the field (Ritchin 2014: 13). After investigating it would appear that when confronted with complexity, the photojournalist (professional or citizen) must produce an effective, innovative narrative with the tools available, which depicts a responsible, informed representation of the subject. It should challenge and provoke a response from the right audience and be viewed in the appropriate environment (Johnston 2011).



Having delivered a small presentation in first year and written an academic essay in second year I felt I was equipped to tackle the requirements of this module. However the desire to write a quality paper and the pressure of presenting to an external audience made the experience more worrying. Choosing to examine the current state of photojournalism as a whole was an ambitious idea, and it meant that I had to complete detailed research for each concept I wanted to include, it also meant I had to make compromises on the content of the paper. I believe I negotiated this issue effectively by choosing themes that would flow well in the structure of my paper and completing further blog posts to address the themes that I had to exclude. This means that the release of my research paper will be accompanied by a set of independent  pieces of writing which demonstrates my extended research into other important aspects.

In terms of the research itself, it was challenging to read the amount of material I wanted to read in order to inform my writing, this meant I had to organise and limit my research and really consider which sources were going to be beneficial enough to read all the way through or whether it was a case of selecting the most appropriate and relevant chapters. If I was to attempt this type of project again I would make an effort to read more key, historical photographic texts first before progressing down to the specific subject matter as I believe this would make my investigation and the writing of my paper a more chronological and linear experience. One aspect I found challenging was my introduction and I believe this adapted approach would have enabled me to write a more coherent introduction from the start. In addition I would have liked to research more theoretical photographer texts in order to inform and support my understanding of the medium itself, be able to apply my own ideology and relate this to visual examples in the paper. However I appreciate that while perhaps not all of the texts I would want to have read would have been possible in the time frame, I definitely think that if I was slightly more organised and put in a greater work effort at the beginning, I would have been able to complete more research.

The presentation itself was an accelerating experience I had expected some stumbles however they weren’t the ones I made in the previous practise run which demonstrates that no matter how much you practise, there is always the possibility of nerves to affect you. However I feel that I did present to the best of my ability, making a conscious effort to look up and out at the audience and inserted pauses for images to be considered and between each paragraph break. I also made the conscious attempt to slow my speech down as in the previous practise run I had been faster than practised individual  read-throughs. All these efforts meant that I felt my paper was delivered effectively, despite a few nervous mistakes.

In the questions it was addressed that I had been optimistic in my attempts to compares one genre of photography into a ten minute presentation and paper. I was expecting this question and I was able to answer it by referring to the series of independent blog posts I have written to address that I appreciate there is more to the medium than that which is in my paper. Another question was asking whether the single image approach can ever be effective in photojournalism. To which I responded that as Fred Ritchin stated, the single image can act as an entry point to the viewer and I appreciated that in some contexts it is not possible to view a comprehensive, contextualised body of work. So the singular photograph could possibly still act as this entry point however as addressed in my paper it needs to be followed by the larger, more informed body of work. The next question addressed my comparison of analogue and digital photographer and asked whether I had a preference for either one in relation to photojournalism. I responded by discussing that is was actually a case of ability and capacity. I referred to further research by explaining analogue was always criticised for being too slow to keep up with the war and it is digital technology that will keep up with the demands of the continuous 24 hour news cycle. However I went on to discuss that it digital photography appears to be trapped in the form of analogue so to be able to progress in digital photojournalism, the practitioner needs to break the existing boundaries. The thought of answering questions prior to the presentation as very nerve-wracking as it isn’t possible to prepare completely, there is still an element of unknown. However the experience was actually quite enjoyable, because I had the research I was able to talk openly and easily about the subject.

In terms of my professional practice I think that this module and the experience of the symposium has made me aware of my aptitude and preference for writing over the actual process of taking the image. I had previously considered completing a Masters course but I wouldn’t know what photographic work I would want to produce, however with this experience I could now go on to do a theoretical MA which requires the completion of a thesis instead. In addition to this it is made me want to investigate the digital age further with the ideas I explored in Phonar about constructed identity. I will also continue the research methods established in the module and apply it specifically to my Final Major Project but also for any photographic project in the future as I believe this will help me produce conceptually informed pieces of work.

The experience of this symposium module has been extremely beneficial in terms of strengthening my research methods, informing my upcoming photographic practice and deciding where I might want to go in the future after university. Overall I have immensely enjoyed the experience as it has been stimulating and challenging but incredibly rewarding.



List of References and Bibliography

In this post I have included the list of references which accompany my research paper and a bibliography for the entirety of my research:

List of References

Adobe Adobe Photoshop release history. [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]

Barthes, R. (1982) Camera Lucida. London: Cape

Beckett, C. (2008) Supermedia: saving journalism so it can save the world. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing

Benjamin, W. (1992) ed by Arendt, H. The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. London: Fontana

Bersak, D. (2006) Ethics in Photojournalism: past, present, and future. [online] available from <; [27 January 2015]

Bleasdale, M. (2008) Rape of a Nation [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]

Broomberg, A and Chanarin, O. (2008) The Day Nobody Died [online] available from <; [27 January]

Fontcuberta, J. (2014) Pandora’s Camera. MACK

Johnston, M. (2011) David Campbell – Narrative, Power and Responsibility [online] available from <; [27 January 2015]

La Grange, A. (2005) Basic Critical Theory for Photographers. London: Focal

Ritchin, F. (2013) Bending The Frame. United States: Aperture

Ritchin. F. 2009 After Photography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company

Rosler, M. (2004a) ‘Image Simulations Computer Manipulations: Some considerations.’ in Decoys and Disruptions: selected writing, 1975-2001. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press

Rosler, M. (2004b) ‘In, Around, and Afterthoughts (On Documentary Photography).’ in Decoys and Disruptions: selected writing, 1975-2001. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press

Sontag, S. (1978) On Photography. London: Allen Lane

TED (2011) Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” [online] available from <; [27 January 2015]

Warner Marien, M. (2002) Photography: A Cultural History. 4th edn. London: Laurence King Publishing

Worth, J. (2013a) Marcus Bleasdale in conversation for #phonar [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]

Worth, J. (2013b) Stephen Mayes, Fred Ritchin and Jonathan Worth [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]

Worth, J. (2014) Fred Ritchin in conversation for [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]


Bibliography of Additional Research

Allen, S. (2013) The photographic image in digital culture. etd by, Lister, M. 2nd edn. London: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group

Frazer, R. (1960) The Origin Of The Term “Image” [online] available from <; [20 January 2015]

Jeffrey, I. (2003) Photography: a concise history. London: Thames and Hudson

Lundelin, K. (2014) World Press Photo 2014. London: Thames and Hudson

Mayes, S. (2014) Toward a New Documentary Expression [online] available from <;

Mayes, S. (2012) From Memory To Experience: The Smartphone, A Digital Bridge [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]

Mayes, S. (1974) World Press Photo: this critical mirror. London: Thames and Hudson

McLuhan, M. (2001) Understanding Media: the extensions of man. London: Routledge

Ritchin, F. (2015) How Photography’s ‘Decisive Moment’ Often Depicts an Incomplete View of Reality [online] available from <; [20 January 2015]

Ritchin, F (2010) In Our Own Image. 3rd edn. New York: Aperture

Shore, S. (2007) The Nature of Photographs. London: Phaidon

Sontag, S. (1978) On Photography London: Allen Lane

Strauss, D. (2005) Between the eyes: essays on photography and politics. New York: Aperture

Wells, L. (2000) Photography: A Critical Introduction. 2nd edn. London: Routledge

Worth, J. (2014) Fred Ritchin in conversation for [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]

Worth, J. (2013) Sara Davidmann Worth [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]

Worth, J. (2013) Shahidul Alam Worth [online] available from <; [5 January 2015]





Drafts – Progression

As Anthony addressed in his workshops on writing, an essential part of the writing process is the redrafting. I made sure to keep all of my drafts to track my progress and see how far I have come. In addition to this, if for some reason I lost my current draft I would be able to fall back on the earlier copies for reference. So in this blog post are all my drafts displayed here as JPEGS, between the drafts I will be detailing the process behind each change and the progression.

Draft One:

  • This was written for the first practice run: I used the ideas I got from Shaun Hides talk and based  my structure on opposing the ideology of Fred Ritchin and Stephen Mayes. As I had made an effort to read and listen to a lot of the material available from these two I felt confident to try and write a draft with the addition of the sources when appropriate.
  • I received some good feedback from reading this draft out in the first practice run, however the general opinion was that I presented too fast and as a result, the content didn’t come across effectively. This meant I needed to cut down my word count and refine the content so I could deliver a slower presentation. It was addressed that my title was far too longwinded so that is another aspect I needed to work on; the title should be attention grabbing but it should also inform the viewer to a certain extent about what the presentation will be about.
  • Overall I was really happy with the response from my first draft, however the feedback definitely gave me areas in which I could improve on.


Draft Two:

  • The first thing to do was to really consider the content of my paper and try and condense this into a short and appealing title.
  • I also had some work on my introduction and my conclusion to do, as they were still a bit rough owing to the fact that I didn’t appear to really know the point of my argument.
  • Anthony also mentioned that I should try and define the term photojournalism in the context of photography, using my own photographic knowledge to form this explanation.

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Draft Three:

  • With feedback form Anthony saying that my title was still too long, I really worked on some further options. I really liked the format of using the word ‘Photojournalism’ first and then the remainder to describe the concept I would be investigating.
  • I had received feedback from Anthony previously that identified my awareness of photojournalism historically was possibly a bit weak and I should develop this in order to strengthen my introduction; I read Photography: A Critical Introduction by Mary Warner Marien and other sources such as Walter Benjamin do achieve this.
  • A key difference between these two drafts was the addition of my references and in-text citations, I was unsure at the time how to format these, having not consulted the Harvard Referencing guide so I created my own loose format of using a citation where I had summarised the author’s ideology and the full reference where I had quoted them directly.

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Draft Four:

  • This draft hadn’t really dramatically changed from the previous one, just a few refinements and spelling errors when I read through it again and timed it.

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Draft Five:

  • It was exactly the same as the previous draft, however I had begun to identify the mistakes with my references.


Draft Six:

  • I made quite a big change to my paper in the transition, I transformed the introduction to base it on questions raised by the texts I had been reading and the sources I had examined. The three foregrounding questions would work to secure the attention of the audience and get them thinking immediately about the concepts I would examine.
  • I also developed into considering theories such as Marshall McLuhan and Walter Benjamin in relation to mass image culture and also Martha Rosler on truthful representation and the issues surrounding representation. This was drawing on from the Phonar content relating to the representation of a subject effectively and truthfully.

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Draft Six (with comments from Kate Green)

  • Kate Green is a previous student who both helped with the running of Phonar and came in to give us a talk about the symposium module and her experience. She very kindly agreed to read my draft and give me some feedback which I really appreciated, I gave her draft six as I felt I had particularly progressed since the previous draft so it would be a good point to get some fresh feedback.
  • I really appreciated it and she gave me a lot of points to consider with my structure and how I had written the content for example I had unknowingly used the contrast created in Phonar between the photograph and the image and not fully explained it. In addition I was unaware of other ideology behind the term ‘image’ so this was a really useful experience for me.

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Draft Seven:

  • With the feedback from Kate I started making changes to the content and the structure, which can be seen below
  • At the same time I was still thinking about titles I could use, going back and reading the content to really consider what it was I am investigating and how this could perhaps be summarised in the space of a few words.

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Draft Eight:

  • In working on my draft I uncovered a new section I hadn’t really considered before, and that was the representation of the subject and the responsibility held by the photographer. I subsequently made a new paragraph for this new content, hoping to add a new dimension to the paper.

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Draft Nine:

  • I received some feedback from Anthony on my symposium paper, he focused down on the new section I had added and gave me some names and concepts to research to supplement this. One of these was Abigail Solomon-Godeau’s essay ‘Inside/Out’ which discussed the approach and position of the photographer in relation to the subject they are photographing.
  • This was an extremely relevant piece of text, and worked to fill a gap in my theorists/writers so I immediately added it into my paper however I was aware of how long it was getting so I tried to make some refinements by cutting some sentences and words out.
  • I also made the effort to complete my list of references with an in-text citation in the actual body of the text referring to ideology and quotations used and the proper list of references at the end of the paper. The highlighted aspects referred to the references and citations that I wasn’t completely sure of and needed refining however this would come with time.

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Draft Ten:

  • This draft was accompanied with a presentation and was presented to Anthony on the 3rd of February as potential final draft; this was the initial date we had set out as a class to make sure that everyone had a piece of text.
  • I had made a conscious effort to try and think of a title that would be interesting but accessible at the same time, this was my reasoning for referencing a popular film however it also related to the questions raised in the beginning of the introduction so it appeared to work for the time being.
  • I attempted to refine the content with the attempt of achieving a ten minute presentation – I timed a reading of the paper which resulted in being very close to ten minutes so I was very happy.

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Draft Eleven:

  • Not many changes were made in this draft apart from a few grammatical, spelling and structural changes with the addition of firming up the most of the citations and references. I had to email Matt Johnston about his SoundCloud recording of David Campbell as it was unclear from the website the exact date it had been published.

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Draft Twelve:

  • Again not many changes were made apart from the completion of the referencing and citation process and an attempt to refine my paragraph structure.
  • One defining change was swapping the word ‘modern’ in the title for the word ‘now’ as the previous word is filled with ambiguity.

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Draft Thirteen:

  • Following another apt with Anthony and an appointment with CAW (Centre for Academic Writing) it was addressed that I wasn’t effective in my structuring of paragraphs and that the flow of the paper wasn’t as natural as it could be. With this in mind I analysed the content and the point behind each paragraph and section and consequently made some quite significant changes to the order of the paper.
  • I also consulted CAW about my referencing, I was reminded that my references need to be alphabetised, they only appear once and there were some certain formatting changes that needed to be made in my list of references and the citations.

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Draft Fourteen:

  • I continued to make refinements to my structure and the content, this draft was the one read out in the informal practice run. Unfortunately I stumbled a bit over my sentences, lost my place a few times and was put off when I realised my presentation wasn’t in the correct order, for this reason my presentation was over eleven minutes.
  • I was really encouraged to go back and practice my paper with the view of getting the time down to ten minutes. In addition to this I believed there was still some work to be done with my phrasing and sentence structure to make the paper easier to read out loud. DRAFT 14_Page_1 DRAFT 14_Page_2 DRAFT 14_Page_3 DRAFT 14_Page_4 DRAFT 14_Page_5 DRAFT 14_Page_6

Draft Fifteen:

  • With the exception of one new citation I have completed the necessary formatting changes to my references and citations as advised to me by CAW.
  • I read back through the paper with the updated presentation and made some small changes to the sentences which would make it easier to read and ultimately easier to listen to. This would be the draft I read out at the proper dress rehearsal for feedback from Anthony, Kate and Daniel in the build up to the symposium.


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Draft Sixteen:

I made a few changes to the structure as suggested by Anthony and Kate and then gave it to my friend Gabi Jones who studies English and asked her to proof read the introduction as we had now passed the point of getting more feedback. This was my attempt in making sure the rewritten introduction was grammatically correct and made sense.

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  • I made all the changes suggested apart from the last few sentences, although from an English perspective, it appears I was contradicting myself, from a photographer’s perspective it made sense as it tracked event chronologically however I did appreciate her pointing this out as it really made me think about what the sentences were attempting to say.


Draft 17

After all the changes I saved and printed my completed draft which can be seen below:

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New Digital Techniques in Photojournalism

The transition from analogue to digital photography has facilitated new forms of photography including the increasing prevalence of moving image and sound in photographic work. According to practitioner and writer Joan Fontcuberta where the analogue photograph is static and linear, the digital image is fluid and able to exist in the latent and manifest state almost simultaneously. Where analogue was often criticised for being too slow, the digital image has the capacity to innovate photojournalism in terms of both speed and delivery. The emergence of immersive and interactive media has transformed the practice of photojournalism and created the opportunity for new modes of delivery. However in the current state of photojournalism it appears that format of the singular image in the context of the photoessay is remaining present, perhaps photojournalists needs to break the framework that analogue has laid down in order to progress and produce effective, digital photojournalism.

Stephen Mayes characterised digital technology as the escape from the photoessay which was a product of industrialisation. Time Magazine have embraced this liberation and worked to create innovative new features such as Snowfall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, Faces of The Dead and Watching Syria’s War. Snowfall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek is a digital feature which tracks the timeline of an avalanche that affected the lives of many people.

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Despite sharing a resemblance with the format of the traditional photoessay, as the viewer scrolls down through the feature the capacity of digital technology is revealed with embedded photographs, video and sound. In addition to this the viewer takes an active role in reading as they can choose to activate or deactivate the content in the feature. Time Magazine also produced Faces of the Dead which features creative data visualisation combined with photography to produce an interactive feature.

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Each portrait is made up of many little squares which the viewer can choose to click on; each individual square represents a U.S soldier who has been killed in action and by clicking their square the photograph of him and information about him can be seen. It is a creative construction that is extremely thought provoking when the meaning is understood, the viewer is confronted with the knowledge that all the tiny squares resemble the death of a person and the effect created is serious and reflective. In addition to this Time Magazine have established the platform Watching Syria’s War which is comprised of video content contributed by citizens which is then organised and archived into different categories.


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Fred Ritchin stated that photography and video are intertwined, there can now be a photofilm and a film still each existing as separate entities. In photojournalism now, video is just as important as photography as the kinetic properties allow for a greater capacity of representation and information. The element of citizen participation also contributes to a more accurate representation as they have the ‘insider’ status Abigail Solomon Godeau explores. The digital techniques used by Time Magazine explore and demonstrate the capacity and potential for digital photojournalism. The use of moving image, still image, sound, data visualisation and data visualisation works to create a more informed, contextualised feature which will work to engage and provoke the audience to take social action. It is evident that digital technology has the potential to innovate the field of photojournalism however it needs practitioners and organisations to take on the challenge.

The project ‘This Is Kroo Bay’ by Save The Children uses new digital techniques to examine and portray the lifestyle and stories of a particular culture.

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The use of sound, image and moving image immerses the viewer into the situation and lends to a more participatory viewing experience. By drawing away from the limitative single image approach we allow for new modes of delivery which are comprehensive and contextualised from which the viewer can learn more from what they could possibly learn from the single image format. In this sense, aesthetic and linguistic context works together to form a larger, more informed narrative. However the slower pace of this approach could conflict with the accelerated speed of the current news cycle, in terms of reactive photography, the single image could be considered the most appropriate format because of the simplicity and compatibility. Fred Ritchin debates that as photojournalists campaigning for social change, there needs to be more ‘proactive’ photography, negotiating issues before they happen as opposed to reacting to the events afterwards. If the nature and dynamic of the news cycle can be adapted to suit proactive practitioners, the capacity of photojournalism could grow to seeking preventative social change.

Accompanying new digital technology is the creation of a different type of media, social media which was primarily invented to facilitate communication on a global scale. As Stephen Mayes identified, we are now producing content for the screen and the idea of screen culture is predominately associated with social media communication. Where the photoessay was product of industrialisation, it could be perceived that social media is the product of digitisation. With the production of communication technology comes the idea of intelligent technology; it is now possible to Internet software to seek and store metadata about each individual which then builds up a picture of trends, habit and preferences. This knowledge is then sold to third parties who choose to target the individuals with specific adverts, search results and suggestions. This process has contributed to the formation of what TED speaker Eli Pariser characterises as ‘online filter bubbles’ which construct and shape the information seen by each individual.

The idea of digital technology shaping the information that is seen by each individual is perhaps destructing the ideology behind the democratic state; freedom of information. By shaping results, technology is effectively restricting other results meaning that the citizen has less control over the photojournalism they can see. There are alternative search engines such as DuckDuckGo which doesn’t track and store search inputs however there are not widely known. As the public continues to search using this tracker technology they risk becoming a spectacle, perhaps with the stored information there will be more discovered instances such as Abu Ghraib. The concept of intelligent technology deciding which information the citizen sees is perhaps comparative to the choice made by conventional media and social media in deciding what the audience needs to know. However this technology increasingly restricts the challenging content and presents the public with information it consider they desire. The evolution of new digital technology has perhaps facilitated a trend in photojournalism where the viewer is no longer confronted with the provoking imagery that will facilitate social change.

Overall it is evident that technology has the capacity to innovate and revolutionise photojournalism with the introduction of new elements such as moving image, sound, interactivity and data visualisation. These new modes of delivery have developed a form of photojournalism which is more informed and contextualised and will perhaps be more effective at narration. However the development of intelligent technology is perhaps threatening the purpose of photojournalism to inform. By giving it the power to restrict and tailor the content seen by each individual the technology deconstructs the notion of presenting content that the public needs to know and instead gives them content it expects them to desire. In order to progress and discover the full potential of digital technology to narrate it appears that intelligent technology needs to be addressed and negotiated to avoid the manipulation of important information.

Conventional Media and Social Media

Historically in the practice of photojournalism, conventional media was the sole form of publishing and the format was predominately the illustrated magazine or photo essay. Industrialisation facilitated the invention of the printing press which meant that the magazine and newspaper could be reproduced quickly on a mass scale. As a result, photojournalism could be distributed to a larger number of viewers than ever before which meant that the images were being seen by a wider audience. With the invention of digital technology the photojournalist was introduced to range of new techniques which could be used to display their imagery such as moving image and web space. Digital communication and transmission of images also improved which accelerated the pace of photojournalism which had been previously held back due to the slower photographic process of analogue. Communication diversified and expanded out with the creation of social media in the late 1900s which allowed Internet users to connect with each other in a manner previously unseen. The framework and technology of social media continued to develop and the integration of photo/video uploading meant that the user could become a publisher of content. Now in the current state of photojournalism there appears to be a overlap and a conflict between conventional media and social media in relation to the practice of photojournalism and the dissemination of information.

There appears to have been a convergence between social media and conventional media and between the citizen and professional photojournalist. Writer Charlie Beckett in his book Supermedia describe current journalism at ‘networked’ with both professional organisations and citizens contributing image and moving image content. Conventional media has attempted to participate in social media, The National Geographic now has an Instagram where the employed photojournalists can post images which will then be seen by the organisation’s 30 million followers.

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This attempt by conventional media indicates that the digital native culture is an audience with which they want to engage and the best method for this is transmission through social media. However the structure and social media could perhaps have an impact on the professional photojournalism seen in conventional media; Instagram is restrictive in the fact that it only allows a square format so the original photograph taken has to be cropped which could manipulate the meaning and effect intended. In addition to this photojournalism has seen new methods in producing imagery such as Benjamin Lowy who used smartphone imagery and the application Hipstamatic to produce his photojournalism content.

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The aesthetic of his images, achieved through applying a ‘filter’ (preconceived set of editing actions), became so popular that a ‘Lowy’ filter’ has been created which enables the app user to replicate Lowy’s style. This imagery heavily references the style of images seen on social media such as Instagram and is perhaps softer, more aesthetically pleasing than the majority of imagery we usually associate with photojournalism such as the image by Nick Ut of the girl whose village was attacked with Napalm in Vietnam. These photographers could be considered as too ‘soft’ for photojournalism, the purpose of which is to provoke a response from the reader in order to make social change. Lowy’s images however are comfortable and convenient to consume therefore the reader doesn’t react as much to them. By attempting to link and reference social media it appears that the professional form of photojournalism reduced it’s power to provoke and inform.

The purpose behind social media is to communicate, where previously this may have been predominately text-based, in the current state of photojournalism and communication it can be perceived as increasingly image-based. Where the photoessay was the product of industrialisation, it could be considered that social media is the product of digitisation and the practice of photojournalism appears to evolve into different forms in order to maintain commercial gain as well as disseminating information. Social media now stands as the largest archive of free image and moving image content which has encouraged conventional media to dip in and acquire content to display using conventional platforms. Perhaps the most influential example of this was the happenings in the Abu Ghraib Prison where it was alleged that U.S soldiers subjected their prisoners to torture.




The significance of this event was that the participants actually shared the documentation of the happenings using social media and were consequently identified as the perpetrators. In this case social media resembled the both the organisation responsible for this crime to to discovered and the organisation responsible for publishing the official story covering it. In extension, the radical group ISIS is using social media in order to spread their ideology and construct an image of terror. The conventional media outlets that are using social media to disseminate information could potentially be perceived as linked to these radical groups in their choice of platform. The blurred boundaries of participation and publication seen in social media could initiate an element of corruption in the practice of photojournalism. If the audience can’t distinguish what is informative and what is performative, the original purpose of photojournalism is rendered mute and could actually begin to encourage destructive, not constructive social change.

The convergence between social media was perhaps inevitable as conventional media would appear foolish not to engage with the mass audience of digital natives using social media to communicate. However once the lines between conventional and social, informative and performative are lost; it could cause confusion over what the purpose of the image being viewed actually is. In addition to this, volatile organisations are now attempting to exploit the audience of social media by taking advantage of collective mass image trends and the power of social media to communicate specific imagery and ideology. If the future of photojournalism is to continue being networked there perhaps needs to be a clearer distinction between informative and social imagery to enable the audience to respond in the appropriate manner. In addition, the content from professional, informative photojournalists needs to maintain the notion of photographic realism and quality to avoid being associated with social media by the aesthetic and therefore reduces the capacity to provoke. The purpose of photojournalism is to facilitate social change and this could be established through the use of both conventional media and social media however the issues associated with each form need to be addressed in order to protect the audience.

Mass Image Culture

Kodak and Polaroid were the first creators of the instantaneous image making, the public immediately took to this idea and the popularity of this instant image culture has grown with the development of digital technology. With more user friendly cameras and most smartphones encompassing adequate level camera technology, the public have been enabled to produce imagery that they perhaps wouldn’t have been capable of using a film camera. In addition to this, the developed communication infrastructure has facilitated the establishment of various social media platforms, all of which allow the sharing of image and moving image content. The public can now produce and instantly share images with the world using their portable networked device. The digital device is limitless and allows for the production of endless images whereas film cameras used to be more restrictive. All these factors have contributed to the current mass image culture, where there are more images produced in a day than ever before. However with social media now representing the largest free archive of image and moving image content; can the photojournalist produce imagery that will be noticed? Or will the professional be usurped by citizen content altogether?

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The original definition of the term image is a formulation of metaphors and similes which indicate meaning; in the digital age however the term has been adapted and manipulated to reference different photography practices. In the context of Phonar, Jonathan Worth and other writers/practitioners have characterised an opposition between the term photograph and the term image. Where the photograph very much refers to the analogue print; the image refers to the coded digital entity which is fluid and able to exist in the latent and manifest form almost at once. Stephen Mayes describes a new medium of photography which has been formed due to instantaneous photography and the sharing culture. He characterised the content on social media as ‘experiential photography’ where the user captures a raw thought and releases it for the world to see. One aspect of photography that has become particularly prevalent in this experiential medium is the self-portrait, or recently characterised as the ‘selfie’. The invention of front-facing cameras has allowed the user to construct a self-portrait in a manner not available before the digital age of photography.


This mass image trend has been recognised globally with the term being included in the Oxford Dictionary and it being referenced in high scale events such as The Oscars. Celebrity Kim Kardashian has basically shaped her career and exposure using the digital self-portrait. Photography has always been used as self expression, but now with the limitless form of digital image-making, the holder of a smartphone can use their device as a constant tool of self-expression and construct a detailed image-based identity. However with the citizen empowered in relation to their own representation and producing an archive of self-portraiture, is the work of a photojournalist redundant? Is there a need to be trained in the art of representation anymore to be qualified construct a form of pictorial identity as the digital technology enables a form of convenient, quality and instant photography that could render the needs of the photojournalist unwanted.

Marshall McLuhan references mass media in his book Understanding Media, he describes every form of media and possession as an extension of the self. Previously the predominant forms of expression were through possessions such as the house, car and all these were indications of style and the presence of wealth. However social media and photography has facilitated a new dialogue of self expression which opens self expression up to anyone capable of owning a smartphone. As previously discussed, the self-portrait has now become the dominant mode of self expression, particularly in the digital native generation which has contributed to the mass image culture. McLuhan also references mass trends and collective experience in discussing that the tribal nature in mass online culture is particularly strong perhaps influenced by the sense of detachment to online life. As a result society has seen a new wave of terminology to address volatile actions seen in online culture such as ‘trolling’, ‘catfishing’ and ‘revenge porn’; some of which have now had laws passed to enable prosecution. In addition to this there have been some individuals and organisations utilising the nature of the mass image culture to attract attention and spread destructive ideology such as the self proclaimed ‘ISIS’.


This radical Islamist group have been attempting to spread their ideology and recruit members to their cause. Their image is predominately constructed through moving image footage of graphic nature which is then spread using social media in order to attract an audience. Fred Ritchin in his first book explored the capacity of digital technology to construct our own image, a power which was only previously held by high level individuals. Part of the reason why ISIS have been so successful is the capacity to construct their own image and disseminate their ideology using digital technology and the mass image culture. As addressed in my post on hacking; there will always be individuals that choose to target and exploit and as the number of images produced and shared gradually increases, perhaps the number of these volatile individuals will also increase.

Writer Walter Benjamin was one of the earliest individuals to identify the increase of images through reproduction and the effect it could have. He discussed the concept of ‘aura’, a feeling that is established by distance, for example an individual can be in the aura of a distant mountain range; this aura can be deconstructed by reducing the distance, or creating a reproduction of the original. Benjamin describes that as the reproductions increase; the desire to see the original decreases because the individual no longer feels the need to seek it. As a result the value of the original could appear to decrease because of the loss in interest. In photography the concept of reproduction has changed through the transition from analogue to digital; where the analogue print has a longer, consecutive process of reproduction and an original negative, the digital image is fluid and can be reproduced in an instant, with no indication as to what constitutes as ‘the original’. The ease of reproduction and the capacity to search and obtain images through Internet search engines and social media has perhaps contributed to a devaluation of the image which is also encouraged by the hacker culture. The digital image instead of remaining as a photograph, has been characterised as just information and in the digital age there is a expected entitlement to free information. For the photojournalist, despite the capacity of digital technology to narrative effectively it means that there is the constant danger of their work being devalued because of the nature of the digital image and the dynamic of the mass image culture. Perhaps this is why there has been a revival in film photography, because the photographer feels a sense of value and aura in the analogue print that has been lost in the digital.

The mass image culture is a trend brought about by the transition from analogue to digital, it has facilitated the citizen to explore a new medium of self-expression using their networked camera device however it has also enabled individuals to exploit it. The apparent loss of aura and the fluctuating nature of the digital image has become a challenge to the photojournalist as their work is under threat from devaluation due to reproduction. In addition to this, the photojournalist is threatened by the capacity of social media to act as a free image archive which could mean the professional photographer is usurped by the new experiential medium Stephen Mayes described. Overall the current state of the image is fluctuating, causing a redefinition by some practitioners to distance the analogue print away from the digital image as the properties of both are extremely different. It is unclear whether the mass image culture either compliments or destructs the current practice of photojournalism. Time will be the factor in tracking the nature of the image and the whether the mass image culture will destruct it’s value in the digital form.



Final Visual Outcome

The role of the photojournalist extends past the act of taking a photograph, the photographer must decide what format their work will take and what environment it should be viewed in. Previously the photojournalist would predominately present their photographs to the photo-editor of the conventional organisation who would then work with the main content editor to decide which photographs would be used where and how they would be laid out. Now the dynamic has changed due to social media and other publishing platforms, in an interview with Jonathan Worth Marcus Bleasdale stressed that photographers aren’t just that anymore, they are publishers too. With more spaces in which to display their photographs, photojournalists appear to be breaking away from the conventional photo essay format, not just because of the new digital techniques available but because it allows them to have control over the content they produce. Perhaps instead of the professional photojournalist being in danger, the real threat is to the photo-editor as their role can now be bypassed.

With the content of photojournalism changing perhaps the environment of the final visual outcome needs to be changed too. The World Press Photo competition winners participate in a global tour around the world, these photojournalist type photographs being viewed in a gallery-like space is quite different from that of the original photo essay, however there is still the notion of aesthetic and context research.

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Photographic based artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin created a body of work called ‘The Day Nobody Died’ which explores a different side to war, the banality in between the portions of explosive action.



The work consisted of large piece of photographic paper which were exposed to the sun on a day in which no soldiers were killed. The significance of this work was the conceptual nature, which means that it is most effective in a conceptual-type space such as an art gallery. Another similar practice that is perhaps geared to the gallery environment is documentary photography; unlike photojournalism, documentary photography is a longer, drawn out process which focuses more on making an artistic statement. Photographer David Moore said that his documentary practice was highly subjective, used to make a comment rather than to factually inform. The gallery spaces allows this open interpretation with the simplistic surroundings allowing the viewer to project their own emotions and feelings to create a meaning. However the purpose of photojournalism isn’t to comment, it is to inform; by displaying photojournalism in an art-based environment it could be seen that the purpose of the image has been corrupted. Martha Rosler stated that it is important to distance informative photography from conceptual photography in relation to photographic manipulation, however is this concept just as important when referring to the context in which it is viewed?

Marcus Bleasdale is a photojournalist who is perhaps most well known for his body of work Rape Of A Nation which depicted the conflict surrounding the mineral market in the Congo. This work was influential however Bleasdale didn’t leave it there; he stated that by publishing in the conventional photo essay the photojournalist is ‘preaching to the already converted’.


Bleasdale negotiated this notion by choosing to adapt Rape Of A Nation into different forms to engage with different audiences; first into a series of graphic comics to engage with a much younger audience and now into a video game which would engage digital natives with the interactivity.


It was the adaptation of this body of work into different forms that made it effective for each audience it was intended for. Bleasdale demonstrates the active role a photojournalist can have in the production and dissemination of their own work. The collaborative nature of each adaptation also expands the work into different mediums which could potentially increase it’s capacity to continue informing and engaging news audiences. With the change from analogue to digital there is now a wealth of new possibilities open to the photojournalist in terms of taking ownership of their work and adapting it to engage with different audiences, in new innovative ways. In an interview with Jonathan Worth, photojournalist Shahidul Alam stated that ‘photography is a tool’, and as Marcus Bleasdale demonstrates, it can be continuously evolving.

It is clear that the role of the photojournalist has changed in the digital age, however there are other complexities aside from the obvious issues such as manipulation and misrepresentation. As the genre expands and diversifies it is becoming increasingly complex to identify the appropriate format and environment for the final visual outcome. However after investigating it would appear that the photojournalist must take ownership of their own work to ensure it completes the purpose for which it was made. Informative imagery must be distanced from that of conceptualist imagery, however that doesn’t mean that photojournalism doesn’t belong in a gallery environment. In addition to this the audience for which the work for must be considered in order to use the right photographic techniques. The notion of collaborative negotiation between other mediums poses a solution to the complexities and would appear to open up new possibilities for the practice of photojournalism. However it needs the practitioner to take on responsibility and adapt their role from photographer, to publisher.