A life in pictures

Ian Fisher at his new barracks

By NATHAN FULK

As Derek Gee said in his recent presentation to our class, good photojournalism should tell a story rather than just show the characters.  I found a great example of this today when I came across a photo blog for the Denver Post which told the story of Colorado resident Ian Fisher’s recruitment into the U.S. Army and subsequent deployment in Iraq. This ambitious piece attempts to give civilians a sense of what the transition into military life is like.

Throughout this 27 month ordeal, the Denver Post staff followed Fisher all over the world, from Colorado to Georgia, Iraq and back, documenting his complete change of identity, and the mixed consequences of his decision to enlist.

This is a well-done example of photojournalism; very thorough work created a full portrait of his personality and history.  Besides simple physical appearance (which some have already tried) this series of pictures expresses emotion and mood.  This is one example of how a lighting effect creates a particular tone:

orig_soldier061

The humvee in this example is extremely backlit, making its silhouette look almost supernatural.

This project does raise issues, however, of reality.  A fresh-faced cadet will be treated quite differently in any situation when constantly accompanied by a newspaper photographer.  Though they do their best, journalists can never be completely embedded.   One consequence is that there are no photographs of combat on the blog.  They don’t say whether Ian went into combat, leaving the photographer behind, but that, at least, is something too graphic for the folks back in Denver to see.

This brand of photojournalism certainly has its uses.  It shows that photography can be more than an accessory for news; it can tell the same story with more of a sense of realism.

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One response to “A life in pictures

  1. Content: 4 Great post, Nathan. Great addition to the class lecture. Love the photos, too. A real find.
    On embedded: Journalists do sometimes go into battle with troops. It’s tricky. Once they become an integral part of the platoon and have faced battle with the soldiers, they feel a deep connection to them which, according to some, makes objective journalism tough. Or does getting to know the soldiers make them better able to write about them?
    Links: 3
    Grammar: 4

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