Photojournalism – Is it Still Viable? Episode 17

Another episode, another rant. But this time we decided to be different. Instead of three guys who have never practiced true photojournalism before, we brought in one of our regular listeners, Grammar Nazi! (a.k.a. Steven). Steven, or Mr. Nazi if you prefer to be formal like Tony, not only has been teaching photojournalism at the university level for a really long time (how long? listen to the damn show and find out!) but has also worked as a journalist and photojournalist.

Can you believe it? We actually got someone with real credentials to talk about it. And (to quote my current favorite show, Archer) “Holy shit balls!” This guy is good and knows what the hell he is talking about. So, yeah, maybe we turned the clock back a bit and the show is a bit NPR-ish but when you hear what Steven has to say, you’ll know why all three of us are super-excited about this episode.

Is Photojournalism Dead?

That’s the obvious question, isn’t it? All three of the guys were almost ready to declare professional photojournalism as a dead vocation. Grammar Nazi assures us that it isn’t. It’s just found in different places these days. He points out that, while large papers like New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are laying far more people off than they are hiring, they are also completely ignoring smaller towns and cities with their coverage. So, to answer Rob’s question about what career path awaits a graduating journalist, Steven paraphrases the famous line, “go small, young man!”

Our Featured Artists


Sumi-e requires patience and time; two things that are the antithesis of photojournalism

Again… holy shit balls! If you listened to episode 16 (you did listen, right?) you heard Rick go off like a Roman Candle about flower photography. Don’t worry, he still despises it in most incarnations (in-carnations… see what I did there?) but he also chose to pay homage to Nancy Rotenberg, a recently deceased photographer who worked with floral subjects a lot. And did so in a way that Rick found inspiring.

Rob has discovered the beautiful sumi-e work of Yolanda Mayhall. Ms. Mayhall is an American artist who learned the traditional sumi-e art when she lived in Japan with her husband, another artist who died in 2005 (welcome to the dead artists’ episode). As you’ve been listening to the show and learning about Rob’s affinity for simple design and aesthetics, you will immediately know why he is drawn to her work.

Again, a huge thank you to Steven the Grammar Nazi for his insight, humor, and time in sharing with us the past, present, and future of photojournalism. You can follow Steven on Twitter @thegrammarnazi or read his blog at



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  1. rudeboy77-Peter May 11, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Use your feet instead of the zoom–very good point. I compose my photo before I even look in the view finder so I need to get up close to get that shot I have in my head. I was A guest on TAI a bit back ago and had the great Pleasure Of the funny talker asking me REAL CHEESE or CHEESE WIZ– I pick Real.. he was not happy.. great Job Grammar Man..

    • Rob May 13, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      The whole idea of composing, or seeing, the picture before you even look through the view finder is something I am a big proponent of; it has helped with the quality of the pictures I shoot. By forcing myself to see the image first, I know what I am trying to compose in the camera and that allows me to start making minute adjustments in my position so that I can realize the image I have in my mind.

      For several genres, that’s not always possible – wedding photography comes to mind along with photojournalism and, to a lesser extent, sports photography. At best, we can put ourselves in a physical position where we can get the image we envision, even if we can’t arrange the main elements.

      And, yeah, Grammar Nazi was an excellent guest – look for him again in a few weeks!

  2. rudeboy77-Peter May 12, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Check out the work Of A William Schimidt.. Really great photos..

    • Rob May 13, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      Thanks – I will check his stuff out.

  3. Grammar-Nazi May 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    Thanks for the comments, gentlemen. They are appreciated.

    I just attended this weekend a fascinating show at a local art gallery called Light Impressions, a touring exhibit by studio b. from Florida that features 40 iPhone photographers with their work displayed on 40 iPads. I plan to put a blog post about the exhibit later this week, but until then, click on the link to go to its facebook page.

  4. Ivan May 15, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    What follows is a highly disorganized comment about flower shots and pictures of pretty ladies (and men). In regard to the latter, there was this Joe McNally quote for the April 11 show:

    Many of the pix out there on the internet are such a no-frills, in-your-face slam dunk of plastic sexiness that the creator with his camera seems not to be an inquisitive, interested gentleman, but more like a drunk at a bar sidling up to a hot chick and blurting out, ‘Wanna boff?

    Some things are just very pretty, and if a photographer wants to shoot those things, it’s going to be a lot harder to fail to get an attractive image. Of course, a bad photographer can fail, but even a merely competent photographer can create an image that moves people. Yes, a photo of an eagle or of a naked woman on a beach may be unimaginative, and it may not win any photography awards for technique or originality, but that doesn’t make the image (or the photographer) bad if the picture works for the viewer. Such viewers might include myself!

    I’m sometimes surprised when casual snaps I’ve taken turn out to be popular with folks on Facebook or Flickr. I’m also surprised (though, less so) when some of my quirky art projects turn out to get no reaction at all. 😛 Cultivating a higher aesthetic is good, and I’m not suggesting we lower our sights, but we shouldn’t be excessively snobby about what other people like. And if another photographer is shooting with super hot models on south Pacific beaches where failure is almost impossible, good for him/her!

    BTW, I think that some photos I once thought of as magnificent now look uninteresting or flawed, so my personal taste in photography has changed over time. I wonder if this phenomenon gives a competitive advantage to artists who are still in touch with their original tastes.

    I have seen a few images that effectively span the divide between quirky aesthetics and brute-force beauty. Helmut Newton, for sure. I think I should spend more time figuring out how to make such images.

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