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Photography Up, Photojournalists Down

In a Columbia Journalism Review essay, Alissa Quart looks at the future of photojournalism, which is not unlike that of journalists now that everyone has a camera in their hands:

While professional photographers are suffering, news photography and photography of all kinds is flourishing. Citizens around the world can cheaply photograph and distribute images of their own countries and cities, places like Dhaka and Freetown. Citizen journalism projects like Rising Voices teach photography in Africa and elsewhere. Local image-makers challenge both the valor and necessity of the American or European photographer shooting in a foreign clime, a model that has a certain amount of voyeuristic baggage, as the critic W. J. T. Mitchell has written — a dynamic where a “damaged, victimized, and powerless individual” is “taken” by a photographer who is a “relatively privileged observer, often acting as the ‘eye of power.’ ” Instead, we will have amateur photographers — some lucky people at the right awful place at the right awful time (Nigerians who are at the next explosion of a pipeline, say). And I hope that innately gifted photographers will emerge as well — a Chinese Kratochvil, a Nigerian Gilles Peress.

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