There has always been sensationalist media and there has always been a market for photographers to create stories.
If you have been keeping up with current “reality” news, I’m sure you are familiar with the scandalous actions of such people as Kate Middleton, who brazenly decided too take of her top in a private residence on holiday in France. I personally was appalled until I realised I wasn’t a reader of said unmentioned publications.
There has always been sensationalist media and there has always been a market for photographers to create stories, but as technology improves so too does the voyeurism of the news and its audience. The images of a topless Kate Middleton published in the French edition of Closer magazine is a prime example. Taken with a 800-1000mm lens on a road further up the mountain hundreds of metres away, intruding on a private occasion, supposedly justified by popular attention.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an anti-paparazzi piece, I enjoy seeing Ryan Gosling drinking coffee and Lindsay Lohan punching a bouncer as much as the next guy. If the photographer keeps out of the way I’m not going to call it artistic, but they should be able to photograph celebrities in public places. What I do find issue in are the lamprey lens hounds feeding off private occasions to satisfy an insatiable public.
Photojournalism in its golden age stood in high regard. The work of photographers from such publications as Life and Time magazine have documented the turning points of the past century not just for profit but for a belief that the public should see the world around them and the changes that will affect their life. When the American photographer Edward Weston said “Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn’t photogenic” he seemed too have amazing foresight towards the pixelated image of the future Queen’s breasts.
This is not to say photojournalism has died, there are still professionals and a growing amateur class who attempt to seek out the important truth and publish online to sites like Getty Images reportage. Personally, it seems an insult to photographers like Robert Capa who died in pursuit of their craft that the most talked about images come from situations where the greatest threat is falling from the grassy knoll.