Photographers used to shoot black and white because they had no other choices. Photojournalist were somewhat frustrated by their limitations of not being able to represent the world the way they saw it. Then, color became available and they jumped on it. Finally, the world could be reproduced the way it was. Sure, for a long time, because of the nature of film itself, the colors were somewhat off. But still, it was like the word processor for the reporter. Today, it seems that color has been abandoned by the photojournalists that want to be at the cutting edge of reporting. Why ?
Today, two things happened to me, simultaneously. First, the announcement of Magnum new members. All black and white shooters (besides Alec Soth). Second, I got a copy of Dispatches, the new magazine created by Gary Knight and someone else . Again, all black and white. That would not be so bad if those black and white were different. But quite frankly, they are all from the the same school of “very dark, poorly lit, very crowded, and slightly out of focus”. Most were probably taken with Holga’s or other crappy cameras. They all feel like seeing someones very depressed bad dreams. The only feeling that emerges from viewing them is a feeling of “hopefully the next picture will tell me what I am looking at”. But no, like a bad dream, it keeps on. For Dispatches, it is for an obscene number of pages. For Magnum’s new members, it is probably for the rest of their lives.
I was really looking forward to seeing Dispatches. I was also really looking forward to Magnum reinventing itself by accepting some new colorful original members. Both have been very, very disappointing.
Photojournalism, at least the one promoted by the photojournalism intelligentsia, is all about moods. Its mood photography. And the mood right now is very dark, very depressed, very Goth. There must be another way to depict the world around us than this photographic teen age angst, no ? Goethe would have no problem finding his young Werther in these images.
Enough is enough. Black and white is only rich if can compensate for its lack of colors. It is an handicap that should be overcome with a passion, not infinite sorrow. Sadness, unless if you have a lot of time to waste on a terrace of a Parisian cafe, if very boring. Existentialism, or at least the fashion that went along with it died long before Sartre did. This absence of being in all these empty photographs remind me of the endless conversation people used to have over how much “life sucks”. That was back when I was 15.
Don’t take me wrong. I love photojournalism. With such a passion that it rips my heart to see it abuse by bored rich kids with a camera. They reject color and digital like rich suburban kids decide to become punks and get a tattoo. Against society and to piss of their parents. To get a reaction. It is a bit if these guys were trying to hide the reality of the situation they photographs with all these artifacts. This is what this current school of photojournalism makes me think about: A bunch of spoiled rich kids rejecting the very foundation that made photojournalism what it is.
And this is not a good time for this.
Sometimes I wonder if any of these guys even know how to take a photograph in focus anymore. This is how ridiculous it has become. I know, I know, I am not being politically correct and in acceptance of what is fashionable to like. But I will take a Natchwey anytime against a Kratochvil. A Kashi before a Pellegrini. Call me old fashion, but I love color. I love photographs that speak to me about a situation rather than a “mood”. I have an insatiable thirst for truth and knowledge and I count on photography to teach me. I count on photojournalist to help me understand my world. I really, really do not need them to add more puzzles and complication with these “plastic camera taken at night BW photos” that Edgar Allen Poe would have taken minutes before committing suicide.
I have a mood already. Just pass me reality.