We really need to stop with this “Portrait photojournalism”. Making protagonists of a major event, whether it is a war, devastation, famine, drought, Tsunami, Hurricane and so on pose statically in front of a camera is not only boring as hell but completely useless for those of us who really want to know and experience what is going on. Those square framed pseudo photojournalists should stop treating their story as bad fashion layouts or worse, fine art photography, and return to real reporting. Or get out.
There is nothing informative, nor even photogenic, in asking a victim to pose in front of a medium camera and stare with an empty look of desolation, confusion and hidden fear. Subjecting someone to stand in front, or rather in the middle of desolation, like a tourist posing in front of a popular monument, is not only demeaning and condescending but also equally disrespectful of the plight they are going through. What next? rearranging the ruins behind them so they look more photogenic and fit better in the overall composition. Bring some dead bodies to fit in the background?
There is nothing journalistic in making people pose for you. This is the art of portrait photographer who shoots families at sunsets or the cover of Glamour magazine . Their intentions are far from being journalistic. They are trying to sell something. Photojournalist on the other hand are reporters, given the mission to inform without interference.
Portrait photojournalism denotes laziness, incompetence and lack of vision. A fear and incapacity of approaching the real story in its context, unaltered. It denotes a strong willingness in changing the narrative to fit a personal vision . It is borderline propaganda. Boring propaganda.
Like any trend, this has now gone too far and is seen too frequently. Publications should stop publishing it because it is killing real photojournalisms and pushing younger, inexperience photographers into thinking that it has some value. It is also an inaccurate and misleading representation of events. They don’t accept photoshopped images, so why would they publish portait photojournalisms.