Shoot Me: The Ethical Struggle of Modern Photojournalism

A picture is worth a thousand words. This is a phrase we have all heard at least a thousand times, but sometimes we need to be reminded that a picture is more than just what meets the eye. Only a little over 100 years ago, people believed that everything they saw in photographs was true. As long as the photograph was taken where and when the caption says it was, it was generally thought to be accurate and, at times, even more reliable than the testimony of a human eye witness (Ritchin, 1985). This mindset is now few and far between in today’s society. Nothing – not even a smiling selfie – can be published without meeting extreme scrutiny from the receiving public.

Eyes on the Details

Have you ever walked into a room and immediately knew you made a mistake? If you haven’t, here is how that situation might go. You open the door and step in, starting to utter an apology for being a little late. The conversation inside stopped, heads could turn to look at you, and the overall energy is just tense. You weren’t supposed to be there. Feeling suffocated and slightly embarrassed, you’d back out of the room while mumbling a quick apology. After shutting the door you release a breath and try to shake off the experience, but that scene is burned into the inside of your eyeballs.

How I Tell Stories

As children, we try to make sense of the world as we are learning it. During that process, we use advanced mediums of communication like linguistics, written words, movement, and exaggerated emotion in order to share exactly what we may be thinking or feeling. If you were like me as a child, you used a combination of those – plus the addition of hand-drawn scribbles – to make EXTRA SURE that people understood. Through the collective power of drawing, writing, and too much imagination, I was able to create stories. Throughout elementary school, we were handed blank books and tasked to create our own fantastical saga, complete with novice illustrations. Nearly twenty years later, I still have these sentimental novelettes tucked away in the bottom left drawer of my white oak desk.