In a world of 24/7 news, the Internet and multichannel tv, reportage is no longer a unique window on the world. Documentary photography is not only competing for our attention in an intense information culture, it’s competing with a noisy, constant-update culture. How can a still image have any impact? Photographers and newspaper editors are consequently breaking out into new directions in reportage. It’s about imagery that slows the pace of things, and visual storytelling that depends on intimacy.
Mary Ann Golan, picture editor of Time magazine, says, “I believe photojournalism is something that causes you to stop and reflect. In a speeded-up society, photojournalism has a definite place. People want to slow down. They want to understand.”
The techniques at the forefront of this new direction in reportage are the quotes and insights supplied by the photographers, such as Tom Stoddart, and the use of medium- and large-format photography.
Kate Edwards, picture editor of The Guardian Weekend magazine, sees the value in words coming from a photographer as well, or, instead, of those coming from a journalist covering the same story. “The quotes photographers get are much more tied to their images, and inevitably link back to them,” says Edwards. “We always really, really welcome it, whether we use them or not. It adds a different dimension.”
Time is even adding audio commentary from photographers on its website. “We’re having our photographers do little interviews with people, to create more than just a caption,” says Golan. “I think very good photojournalism is based on intimacy – intimacy between the photographer and the subject. It’s an incredible relationship.”