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Basic Difference Between Photography And Photojournalism

Photography and photojournalism are sometimes used interchangeably by some people but that is not a correct thing to do. There is a considerable difference between the two concepts. While photojournalism is photography, you need to know that photography is not necessarily photojournalism. So you can’t use the two words interchangeably in several contexts. Why is this so? Just take a quick read at the primary difference between photography and photojournalism.

The photojournalist is just like a conventional reporter. He gathers and disseminates news using photographs. So his shots are often guided by the news values and elements. He also respects ethics of the journalism profession. But the photographer primarily takes record of images, whether newsworthy or simply guided by aesthetics. It could even be for record-keeping purposes.

Objective of the person behind the camera matters a lot determining the line between photojournalism and photography. The photographer is primarily interested in great images that will please the eyes. But to the photojournalist that is not enough. The images should tell a story, whether they please the eyes or not. Just that the photograph should be ethical, not in bad taste. The photographer could even play with Photoshop or other photo-editing software to alter images and make them look better but the professional photojournalist sticks to the original.

According to Jenny Tuemmler, a photographer and photo editor were fired by a major media outlet for removing body parts from a photograph documenting a train wreck. They thought it was too graphic for the public and changed it. The Editor said that they should have chosen another image and fired them. So their judgement backfired. Some editors believe you shouldn’t even crop photojournalism images.
That’s the professionalism that goes with photojournalism. It also emphasizes a major difference between photography and photojournalism. In photojournalism you capture exactly what you see but in photography there may be room for manipulation to make the image better or more captivating to the audience. Once you manipulate image in photojournalism it means you have “opinionated” the news content; and this is a major ‘don’t’ in news reporting generally. To “opinionate” in an article means to inject your opinion into a feature piece or news story that should be objective. You do that in an opinion article not in objective articles. Once you alter the content of a photograph in photojournalism you have opinionated the content.

It is also worthy to not that oftentimes the photojournalist maybe saddled with the task of capturing images to support written reports in an event. This may not be the primary concern of a photographer.

Basically, photography is broader than photojournalism. The fact is that photojournalism is an aspect of photography that focuses on news reporting in pictures. Photography is basically the art of depicting images taken with the camera. The principles of news reporting and basics of journalism are not considered here.

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, COOU, (formerly Anambra State University), Igbariam Campus.

1 Comment

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  1. Nweke Immaculata onyinyechi

    Nice one

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