Henri Cartier Bresson photographs Mao… (note… no tripod…. )
I have been involved in a very interesting discussion on a Yahoo newsgroup for newspaper photographers moving into online video. You can find it at NewspaperVideo@yahoogroups.com but you should probably be working at a newspaper in video to participate.
Over the past three days there has been a heated discussion about whether or not to use tripods when shooting video. (I am personally opposed). There is a lot of support for tripods because, besides holding the shot still, it is what the ‘pros’ use, and ‘we should not throw out the past’.
I must respectfully disagree, at least with respect to cramming television into the web.
Photographers come from a remarkable tradition. Photojournalism, when it emerged -purely as a function of a new technology, became more than just journalism – it became an art form.
This is an important distinction.
I have the great priviledge of living over the Museum of Modern Art in NY. Directly below me is one of the greatest collections of photography art in the world, much of it.. most if it in fact, journalistic in its foundation. And if you don’t like the MOMA, go uptown to the ICP, where you can see more.
It took a long time for photography in general, and photojournalism specifically to be accepted as an art form. It was a fight. But the pure power of the images of people like Cartier Bresson or David Douglas Duncan or Margaret Bourke White or Capa spoke for themselves. Just look at them. They are journalism, but they are also a powerful art in their own right. They do more than just record a moment – they capture and transmit an emotion.
Television has no such power.
Despite the fact that it is largely a visual medium, television has not entered the realm of art and power of image that photojournalism carved out for itself. Despite airing 24 hours a day on hundreds of channels globally for half a century, we have no Capa of television journalism, no Cartier Bresson, no Sebastao Salgado.
That is a tragedy.
As newspapers move into online video, they can embrace the traditions of photojournalism – or they can embrace the traditions of television.
Let us hope they move toward the former….
Because the latter is really a dead end.