These days, I call myself a “Visual Sociologist”, because as a Photojournalist in British media, I cannot retain control over my film, my seeing, the images selection, or its presentation. Being that the Newspaper World has no respect for my thoughts, ideas and my rights. Here, it’s the Editors and owners who do the choosing, according to their agendas. And to go along with this would makes me just another voiceless illustrator.

Growing to maturity in a more principled time and place has made me, if not pleased about my redundancy, at least able to retain my principles. I remain aware of my responsibility to bring a particular order to this jumbled world by investing my observations with meaning, my meaning.

(1)   As a photographer, my responsibility is to the moment, the message and myself. I must seek a public who will understand and except the content of my vision, rather then dilute or pervert it, to fit a particular idea of public need.

(2)   To the photojournalist, an image is not just an image, although it deals with the real or actual, it is a blend of fact and opinion. The photographers’ approach to life is always personalised.

(3)   In photojournalism pictures are dominant - Photojournalism is a blend of pictures that speak, in conjunction with words that help picture.

(4)   The photojournalist must first learn to focus the mind before engaging the eye.

(5)   Good picture journalism is the by-product of mature individuals, who know how to stop, entertain and intrigue the viewer into thinking by interpreting their observations in terms of there understanding of truth.

(6)   Artificial style restricts growth, true style is having the courage to let the subject dictate to you. How and what should be seen, based on your understanding and what you want to communicate.

(7)   Photojournalism is not fifty-percent photographs and fifty-percent words its one hundred percent photographs and one hundred percent words.

(8)   Photojournalism lives where the photographer’s view and views are respected, and does not, where they are-not.

(9)   In photojournalism, its not where you are but what you bring to where you are- mainly your understanding, personality, curiosity and informed sensibility as well as a willingness to allow the subject to impose itself on you.

(10) There is no such thing as one shot photojournalism; it needs page space to refine,

       condense and crystallise thought and the subject interpretation is mainly the

       Photographers, his / her knowledge, personality, and life experience.

(11) Photojournalism is not, where many think it to be alive and well “Newspapers”. Its

       not even where it once was “Magazines”, it has migrated to where it is allowed to be

       and where the space is “Books”.

(12) To be a press photographer one must mealy be determined, display cunning,

       aggression, and have a nose for news. But to be a photojournalist one must be part

       story teller, poet, visionary, method actor, detective, ballet dance, matador,

       magician, philosopher, social worker and historian.

© John Benton-Harris 1990


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