Opinion or Impartiality

I’m not a photojournalist although I have a great interest and admiration for those photographers that do it well. As I’ve probably said before, I look at the Magnum Contact Sheets every week to admire the images and to gain some insight into the thought processes and the sometimes extreme circumstances that the photographers put themselves into.

In addition to the physical danger associated with some of the images, I find particularly interesting the dilemma of whether to intentionally show an opinion. Most photojournalists would attempt not to, which in some respects is the harder option. To leave the images open to interpretation, remove any attempt at a particular conclusion. Maybe prompting a question without making the answer obvious.

Whatever the situation around us, we all tend to have our own interpretations based on our beliefs and past experiences and knowledge. It’s virtually impossible not to bring some of that to the images we make. Which brings the other option, to intentionally show an opinion, give a narrative. Either in the image itself or sometimes in the words that we add alongside it. That might be our natural tendency, although it might also be potentially restrained if we think that opinion is likely to be counter-cultural or unpopular.

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I thought this short article by Cristina de Middel and shared by Magnum was very enlightening, especially the approach of seeking to show an alternative. Not necessarily dictating a specific conclusion from the viewer, but still changing the common narrative and intentionally giving a different perspective.

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