All photographs are parts of visual culture.
Throughout the history of photography, there has been debate about whether it deserves a place in the field of art or whether it should be considered merely the mechanic storing of reality. This debate continues today, not only on whether a photograph can be considered art, but also on what kind of a photograph can be considered art.
The differentiation of fields in contemporary photography is based on the specialisation of professionals, organisation and the practices of publishing the images. It is common to sort photographs into the following categories: photojournalism, advertising photography and fine-art photography. In addition to these, scientific documentary photography could also be discussed.
Of these categories, fine-art photography is most commonly thought of as a part of the more general field of visual arts. Photography at news events is rarely considered art, but is not monotonic work either.
An image’s aesthetic character is also a part of its impact. Many well-known newspaper photographers have a recognisable style, and the work of photographers who have originally been newspaper photographers has been shown at art exhibitions.
A photojournalist has a better understanding of creating journalistic outputs and, unlike an art photographer, a photojournalist is committed to the code of ethics of journalism.
The difference between a photojournalist and a photographer can roughly be said to be that a photojournalist has a better understanding of creating journalistic outputs and, unlike an art photographer, a photojournalist is committed to the code of ethics of journalism. The skillset of a photojournalist professional also includes an understanding of the journalistic work processes in a wider sense, as creating high-quality journalistic output requires much cooperation and coordination between the editors, reporter and photographer.
In addition, it is vital that a photojournalist understands the basics of designing a layout of a newspaper, magazine or the TV channel they work for. Ready-made layout templates and stylebooks, which reduce the staff’s workload, often limit the photographer’s freedom of expression.
A successful journalistic photo may be technically less than perfect, but due to its information value it can succeed well.
Digitalisation has changed the photojournalist’s job description drastically. A modern photojournalist uses digital image processing and editing programmes and other software for content production. Contemporary storing devices such as mobile phone cameras, have also made possible the rise of a new kind of citizen photojournalism. Mobile phones have not, however, replaced DSLRs, digital single-lens reflex cameras, as the most important tool of a professional photographer. With professional tools, taking pictures becomes easier even in harsh conditions.
A successful journalistic photo may be technically less than perfect, but due to its information value it can succeed well. The photographer should, however, always strive to reach a technical level at which the conveying of the information does not suffer.