This week, and last, I am covering a subject that I really love in my history of photography class, photojournalism. The visual language that is photography often has the most impact with the viewer when we see images of current events, celebrations, far away places, and it gives us a greater power to connect. We feel emotion, oftentimes sadness and empathy for a crisis, or pure joy when we see something beautiful such as a happy reunion.
I’ve paid a lot of attention to numerous photo essays online, and continue to do so when reading the news online. These photo essays are collections of images that a photographer makes to tell a story, in the midst of crisis or calamity, or in times of happiness and prosperity. So many times, I find myself reviewing the images over and over, cycling from one to the next, and back again as I find these images so compelling. These are the images that touch us, make us think, move us to action, and effect change. These are the great photographers who put themselves in harms way to tell someone else’s story.
In my history discussion, I go back, way back, to the times before today’s modern convenience of instant images, transmitted instantly through the Internet. I enjoy discussing the early “picture stories” in publications such as Life magazine, and the efforts of Henry Luce who said, “In this new publication, words and pictures should be partners.” The first issue of Life magazine came out on November 23rd, 1936, and Margaret Bourke-White’s image of the Fort Peck Dam graced the cover. Check it out. It really is striking! http://time.com/3764198/lifes-first-ever-cover-story-building-the-fort-peck-dam-1936/
I remember this great class I took while in college, it was called The Picture Story. It was a photojournalism course that taught us how to tell stories in images, and all the ins and outs of magazine layout. I had this wonderful opportunity to make series of images of local events like the seafood festival, a jazz festival, and a Shakespeare in the Park event. Then, I got to visit a local nursing home, befriend an older woman who was a double amputee, and photograph her day – physical therapy, entertainment and company. She was a doll, and I remember her name, Thelma Grant. I also had this great opportunity to do some night shooting at a local youth fair. My mom recently reminded me of this image, so I dug it out and scanned it. This image was made on Kodak T-Max 3200 speed film with my old Nikon FM. What fun, and what joy and determination in the faces of these kids! Wow, this was over 20 years ago…these kids are probably grown with kids of their own!
Let the tough images that move you, move you to kindness, and let the joyful images give you a burst of out loud laughter!