Photojournalism has always been about the relationship between light and life. Photojournalism is a complex and fully human way of capturing, describing and explaining to others what words often fail to do. From this perspective, photojournalism signifies a social and empathic visual encounter with "reality," one that is capable of accentuating the textured fabric of the human condition with dignity, grace, and compassion.
The skilled photojournalist responds to the world emotionally and intellectually by documenting people, places, and things with honesty and humility. The power of photojournalism resides in its insistence on being a holistic and humanistic enterprise. The photojournalist, in turn, must be faithful to a moment of truth, as he or she encounters the world. Photojournalism, at its best, goads us into considering more consciously events that affect our lives.
Today, we are socially conditioned to a deluge of photojournalistic impressions that meet the eye daily, from the run-of-the- mill to the iconic. Within our visually pervasive culture, photojournalism remains committed to documenting the immediacy and intimacy of life as it unfolds around the corner and across continents. Photojournalism is about telling stories with a camera – it is a way of allowing the viewer to see beyond the picture-making process by entering into and connecting with humanity and the world as it is fixed within our collective memory of place and time. The photographer’s eye informs, constructs, and shapes social reality. As eyewitness to the tumult and triumph of human endeavor, major and minor, the photographer’s truth – the image – fixes and mediates a moment of time not only as a representative anecdote as well as a reality.
The photojournalist’s eye is informed by the principle of the decisive moment, an expression coined by photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson to sum up his feelings about the convergence of critical visual elements in time and space. For Bresson, “Sometimes there is one unique picture whose composition possesses such vigor and richness, and whose content so radiates outward from it, that this single picture, is a whole story in itself. But this rarely happens.” Most photojournalists develop the skills needed to capture the decisive moment over many years of practice, for the formula for constructing such pictures, is chiefly governed by an individual’s ability to anticipate and react to what is placed before lens. For this reason, much of what viewers perceives as news is predicated on the photographer’s capacity to capture the decisive moment – the peak, climatic, and otherwise dramatic composition representative of the event. However, reducing an event to a single fixed moment in time may be problematic. From this perspective images produced through the decisive moment style may fail to explain a complex array of factors leading up to and after the picture has been captured.