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Photo used for show announcement (1935 (summer) unknown photographer for Associated Press London - The Four Trojans flipping on a rooftop) | by blacque_jacques
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Photo used for show announcement (1935 (summer) unknown photographer for Associated Press London - The Four Trojans flipping on a rooftop)

Handout I used for the show:


A potted history of Photojournalism


Photojournalism is almost as old as photography itself. There are Daguerreotypes of battlefields of the US-Mexican War (1846-48) as well as Roger Fenton’s famous photographs of the Crimean War (1853-1856). However, if these early images saw print in any mass medium such as newspapers or magazines, they were copied first as sketch drawings or engravings. Photojournalism as we know it today required lighter cameras, mass-produced photographic film and halftone printing so that print media could regularly include photographs. The earliest appearance of press photography, mostly devoted to fashion and cinema, appears just before World War I. The weekly Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung was already publishing photographs in the 1910s.


A case can be made that European left invented photojournalism as we know it today, using a photograph or photoessay to tell a story with text to supplement it instead of the other way around. The Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung covered the social and political turmoil of the Weimar era. LEF/Novy LEF in the Soviet Union made rapid industrialization and collectivization look sexy in the 1920s, as did the Paris-based VU from later in the decade to 1940. The photographic style and techniques (and sometimes the photographers) of the above found their way to the conventional news bureaus such as Associated Press (United States) and Keystone (UK, France) and the Pacific and Atlantic Agency (Germany; later AP Berlin). Picture magazines of the more conventional sort, like Vogue and LIFE in the US and Picture Post in the UK, also poached styles and personnel from the above. LIFE owes a large part of its existence to photographers like Alfrted Eisenstaedt who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s.


The golden age of photojournalism lasted until the 1960s. Film and video foootage shown on TV were more engaging to a mass audience than the photessay had been. What’s really brought the age of print photojournalism to its end is the rising cost of priinting magazines and newsppapers. The last few years have seen the darkroom give way to the inkjet printer, as photographers download their images directly to the computer to adjust and print them. It’s even more common for an image to be printed out only for exhibitions such as World Press Photo or in signed editions. Last year, Magnum, the most famous press photo agency, announced it was going entirely digital and shipped its archive of prints to the Harry Ransom Center, at the University of Texas at Austin. It’s fitting that the center, which holds the very first photographic print, should hold (nearly) the last ones as well.


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Taken on March 31, 2010