Aqua meets Oil

LakeNo3, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

How do you think photographers are going to respond to the giant oil spill in the gulf? Do you think they’ll be out in force, covering the story as photojournalists? Do you think they’ll be interviewing the many boaters, fisherman, and people along the shore impacted by this great tragedy? Maybe following around the politicos as they each try to point blame, craft spin, and dodge responsibility or shoot the big oil corporations when they think we aren’t looking? Do you think they’ll get close, really close, and show us bits of oil trapped in the wetlands? Maybe large sweeping panorama style shots, showing us oil spilling into the gulf? All of the above? None of it?

It can be hard being a photographer in times like this. We’re people too. We react in much the same ways as you do. We react, but then we go to work. Our job begins, you see, almost (in a way) where yours ends. We pick up the pieces and figure out how to show them to you, to everybody, in such a way that it draws attention, it documents, it visualizes, it drives home the point. That’s what we do best-we’re sort of the collective consciousness for society. We’re that little voice inside your head mother warned you about. Yeah, that’s us. We’re here to help, really, if you think about it, though, sometimes, it seems like we hurt, and we have to hurt, to do it. We have to drive home that point because, well, if it could be said, it would have been said with words already, so, BAM! here’s a picture. It’s times like these that demand we be in your face but also quietly whispering in your ear, reminding you that we’re there. It’s alright but, just in case, here’s a compelling image to remind you of what it looks like. Yes, that’s us-that’s our department. You rang?

How do you think photographers are going to respond to the giant oil spill in the gulf? What do you think they are doing? What would you do? It’s a hard call and a tough job sometimes, don’t you think? What would you do if placed out in a row boat, in the middle of a giant oil slick that stretches three states away? How would you respond? What if you had one frame, and only one frame, to show the world what it looks like? What picture would you take? What would you say if your only voice were your camera?

It’s hard to do that sometimes. It’s not the kind of photography people think about when they pick up their camera and go off looking for a pretty flower or a pleasing sunset, but it’s the kind of photography that must be done sometimes. We all need a dose of reality, no matter how bad it can taste doing down, don’t you think?

Until next time…


  1. mythopolis
    June 4, 2010 / 6:21 pm

    Photojournalism is in a pathetic place, I think. There are two kinds. Mercenaries and missionaries. And, even if you have a mission as photographer, what pays the bills is the money shot.

  2. Carol
    June 6, 2010 / 11:49 pm

    Yes, it's a sorry state of affairs for the current crop of photojournalists, I'm afraid. The media is no longer paying what they were, the wars are all televised (no need for stills from the front lines) and everybody has a camera so no need for "pro's" to get the good shots.

    I still see people working but it's becoming harder and harder-all getting squeezed out of the market in one format or another.

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