"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech." ~ Benjamin Franklin
International Press Freedom Day was proclaimed on May 3rd, 1993 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, on the recommendation of the UNESCO General Conference. This day is celebrated yearly to defend freedom of the press, diversity, and independence of the media as fundamental elements for the defence of democracy and respect for human rights.
Fast forward to today, when people are bombarded with information, and the importance of photojournalism as evidence of events is paramount in order to give voice to the pacifist movements of young people and to the climate issue that we’re facing, like the fires in the Amazon and Australia. But also on social movements like “Black Lives Matter”, the migrants crisis across the world, and the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic, with its lockdowns and restrictions, is having on our societies.
Emergency Smoke Flare by Greg Arnold
To write or to speak about a story one must know a specific language. An image, on the other hand can, most of the time, be understood by anyone which makes photojournalism the most universal means of mass communication.
A thoughtful look, a particular body posture, together with composition, light, and shadows can tell a story much better than words. Photojournalism is about telling stories through photographs. Therefore these stories must abide to the rules of journalism; they must be true and be reported in the fairest and impartial way possible.
The trust on which photojournalism relies is what sets it apart from other forms of photography. The viewer must trust what they see in the photo as a true representation of what is going on. This takes us to the two main topics of photojournalism: interference and manipulation. A photojournalist must never interfere with the situation and the action that is taking place, while the manipulation of photos is simply prohibited.
Photo by Alan Blundell
Most of the stories told in newspapers and magazines are accompanied by a single photo, which means that the photojournalist must be able, in a single photo, to summarise the concept of the story itself. A good way to tell a story is to make a photo with different layers: a photo that shows a musician playing with enthusiasm is interesting but tells nothing. A photo of the same musician with a crowd listening to him, tells a story.
Composing a picture with multiple layers adds contents: these layers can be small elements and details surrounding the subject. Emotion is also an important aspect of telling a story. The photojournalist must be an expert on human feelings and must always try to anticipate the facial expressions of their subjects. Whether a smile or a tear, it transmits to the viewer how the subject feels in that specific moment.
Zombies by Serge Seva
Celebrate World Press Freedom Day by discovering the stories behind the work of the greatest photojournalists, like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, James Nachtwey, Eddie Adams or Alfred Eisenstaedt.
Eisenstaedt's iconic photograph of the soldier and nurse kissing in Times Square has become one of the most iconic images of the 20th century, signifying the merry conclusion to WWII. Photojournalism is relevant, objective and a powerful picture can say a 1000 words. Tell a story to the Excio community, by sharing one of your street or documentary style shots.
Reddy Nelken House of Sand performance by Markuza