At the last photo festival in Perpignan, the death of photojournalism was once again proclaimed. Guru photos complained about the lack of work, the loss of many photo agencies of independence and their subordinate position in relation to the largest corporations, such as Corbis, Getty and Hachette, which in recent years have successfully carried out a campaign to acquire agencies themselves, and photo collections and image banks. At the moment, this three is quite able to influence the market and independently decide what exactly is worth publishing and what is not.
I do not think that photojournalism will die (we still need wonderful photos), but it is clear that it will radically change under the influence of the processes taking place in the agencies.
I would like to emphasize that when speaking about photojournalism, I mean all three of its components: news, reportage and documentary photography.
News photography is a daily survey of current events, whether local or international. Materials related to international events are supplied to the world market by agencies such as Reuters, AP and AFP, and local news is the prerogative of smaller and more specialized agencies or just beginning a career of free photographers (freelance). In this sector, the appearance of digital cameras very quickly and very seriously changed the situation. Many famous photographers today began their career with a news photo. Working with the news is a great school for a photojournalist. The daily need to shoot a wide variety of subjects – from criminal incidents and political events to world events – gives the photographer an excellent opportunity to show a quick reaction in composing the composition, a skill that is unlikely to develop in someone who has never worked with news.
On the other hand, the reportage is the same work with the news, but still stretched in time – an average of a week. This sub-genre of photojournalism is in an obvious crisis and still exists only thanks to some photographers-freelancers, the will of the case and small orders. The costs are quite high, and therefore this work is not very profitable, and the supply far exceeds the demand. In addition, in this genre there are not so many photographers offering high quality material, as well as easily changing topics and able to constantly live in crossings and flights from place to place. A good story is a story, and a photographer should be able to tell this story quite fascinatingly and brightly, without forgetting about the details, otherwise a rather general and boring photo essay will turn out.
Finally, we came to the subject of a documentary photograph. In fact, this is the same report, but no longer in a tight temporary and editorial framework. It is documentary photography that must survive, and it is she who, over time, can bring fame and money to the photographer. However, the photographer himself needs to know the market well, in order to be able to receive grants and awards, useful not only in terms of materiality, but also in terms of maintaining interest in the topics over which he works. In addition, the photographer must have a passion for work and be disciplined at the same time. A good, high-quality work devoted to an interesting topic can also contribute to the emergence of new niches in the market. New opportunities are opened by sponsors, humanitarian organizations, exhibitions, publishers of books and albums. Publishers are in constant search of materials and topics for books, catalogs and related exhibitions.