Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Photojournalism: Museums vs. Furniture Stores


This is a short story of an important lesson I learned about photojournalism from a college instructor a few years ago.

For the final project in my photography class, I submitted a series of shots of a building. I used several unique angles and various compositions. The resulting images looked excellent. When the day we were to present our projects to the class finally arrived, I was a little nervous about my presentation. I walked in and I placed the photos in the front of the room to be critiqued.

At long last, it was my turn to share, so I stood up and began telling the other students how I found the building on a walk in my neighborhood and then I described the techniques I used to process the photos. My classmates had positive things to say about the project and they all seemed to liked the images.

After class, my instructor told me she liked my presentation, but that my images would have more of an impact if I had a story to tell about them. She said having a story behind the images may make the difference between displaying your photos in a museum versus a furniture store. Her feedback changed the way I look at photography.

I began to think about the type of photographer I wanted to be. The words she spoke stuck in my head, "...displaying your photos in a museum versus a furniture store." For some photographers, the latter is sufficient for them, but I'm discovering that what's important to me is my need to contribute to life. Photography is a tool I can use to do that. I may never have any awards or recognition for being a photojournalist, but I'm happy knowing that I'm a messenger of light shining in sometimes a dark world.

The next time you pick up your camera, ask yourself, "Do I want my images displayed in a museum or a furniture store?"

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