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When reading a news story, our minds attempt to piece together a mental image of what the words represent. As eloquently, fluidly and masterfully as words can convey an image, they cannot reproduce a moment in time as well as a photograph can. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a good picture can speak volumes. In this modern world of insanely high pixel count cameras, every tiny nuance of someone’s facial expression, every feeling an emotion, every part of a scene, every person in a crowd can be captured. The moment can be perfectly preserved, as if a fly in amber, an unmoveable fraction of time capturing something special.
Photojournalism is perhaps the most revealing journalism of all. As much as we love to read about things, we are primarily visual based creatures, seeing the world through our eyes. It is photojournalism that brought us such striking images as Tank Man, defiantly standing by himself against the might of the Chinese army in a parade in Tiananmen Square (an image firmly blocked by internet censors in China by the way). It can humanise, represent things far beyond the immediacy of the subject, capture every little detail and emotion far better than a wordy article ever could.
Makes you feel a bit wasteful for taking those all those snaps of your nephew’s birthday party eh? Well, at least the joy of modern cameras is that they have a ridiculous amount of storage space. NB