Here’s a sample of Giulio Saggin’s new book we have published today:
Giulio Saggin began his career as a news photographer in 1989, at a time when newspapers had photographic departments with photographers, both staff and freelance.
In the ensuing years the media modernised but photographers always had their place.
The onset of the digital age changed all this and the media world is being transformed at what seems to be an exponential rate.
While there might be several million photographers around the world, there are several billion citizens with digital cameras and smart phones on hand to capture news as it happens.
This has resulted in an explosion in citizen photographers, where anyone can lay claim to being a photographer, and whose photos are largely free, or inexpensive, for media outlets to use.
Included in the several billion are journalists who, at the very least, have a mobile device with a camera. In an ever-expanding media market, the economics of one journalist with a camera has dictated they take on the role of photographer as part of their reporting duties.
The phenomenal rise in citizen journalism (photography) and journalists with cameras has had a detrimental effect on photographic departments and photographers around the world.
Many media outlets have chosen to do away with photographic staff and arm their journalists – many of whom side with the photographers – with cameras or smart phones and given them the task of taking ‘photos’ with minimal training at best.
As a result, the vast majority of images produced have been inferior to those produced by trained photographers (who study their art at college for at least 2-3 years, or the equivalent on-the-job training for older ‘pre-college’ photographers).
In most cases the journalists taking photos don’t have anyone to tell them right from wrong, so they have little or no idea if what they are doing is correct or otherwise. They have no way of learning. Photography is a discipline and a lack of discipline in any facet of life leads to chaos.
Visual stories are as complex as their written counterparts. Giving someone a camera/smart phone doesn’t make them a photographer, just as giving someone a laptop doesn’t make them a journalist.
It’s hard to say what the future will bring but it appears one thing is certain. If media outlets are going to want their journalists both to write and take photos, those with skills in both areas will be the ones getting the jobs.
While journalists are being made to take photos, photographers wanting to work in the media will have to learn to write.
The future may well see the traditional roles of journalists and photographers meld into the one term – photo-journalist.
It’s a term that has been in use for decades by those who already write and take photos, and many photographers because of their visual story-telling skills.
If the current trend is any guide, the term will become the ‘norm’ in the not-too-distant future.