Photojournalism is, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of history. Without someone there to document happenings not only in writing via captions and descriptions but through images and photographs, the world would not be what it is today nor have recollection of what it was. In reading Forbes’s article Why Times Magazine Used Instagram To Cover Hurricane Sandy, Time outlines a new and questionably improved way to chronicle events – Instagram. I have to be honest and come right out and say that I am highly jealous of those that have the ability to use Instagram mostly because I wish I had the ability to ignite my civic photojournalist responsibility to capture and share everything I see. I am a not-so-proud owner of a brick flip phone. However, it is easy for me to see the value in taking such unorthodox routes to achieving a stunning photograph. Time seems to be hopping on the fast paced locomotive that is new media. We now have the technology to simply “point and shoot”, as one of the featured photographers of Time’s Insagram cover stated, and such devices are readily available to everyone. For me, it seems as though a Pandora’s box has been opened. If everyone has access to applications and cameras that produce often paralleled quality in terms of content to that of professional DSLRs and photojournalistic training, someone might be out of a job. The big question is what’s in the medium of photography that changes the photograph. There’s really no right answer to this question other than to go with the flow of technology. As much as us purists would like to fight it, new ways of taking pictures are being developed – no pun intended.
John Berger’s Ways of Seeing adds a whole new layer to the argument as well. Much like how photography was often deemed blasphemous in the late 19th century because it appeared to be bastardizing classical fine art, many could comment that the same is being done with new mediums of art like Instagram. It all depends on “our way of seeing” i.e. the way we perceive a way or medium of seeing is entirely up to us. Berger goes on to state that a good photograph much like a good painting would be so due to its application to “terms like harmonious fusion, unforgettable contrast, reaching a peak of breadth and strength transfer emotion provoked by the image from the plane of lived experience”. My only question now would be if a photograph conjured such passion as all that, would it even matter how it was captured? I do not think so. The device would merely a playful, semi-interesting anecdote. However, there is an argument that suggests that the uniqueness of an experience became immediately transportable when cameras were invented. How any of these photographs were captured would thus become irrelevant. Since paintings were not the means of depicting these images, the uniqueness of the those being depicted would nonetheless be changed forever.
In this day and age, the medium hardly matters. What’s important is the content of an image. If the content stirs passions and creates discussion, I wouldn’t at all be concerned with how it was achieved.