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 Deep Thoughts 

Is photojournalism dead?
Observations from Moscow, by Otto Pohl

"These people were my photojournalism heroes.  They had the big shots from the hot spots."


Mark McGwire:
"You cannot try to hit a home run. It just happens."

Richard Avedon:
"Pictures make people feel less alone. They look at a picture and say, 'That's how I feel.' That's enough for me."

Tom Robbins:
"Using words to describe magic is like using a screwdriver to cut roast beef."

Louis Armstrong:
"If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know."

O.J. Simpson
"Thinking is what gets you caught from behind."

Yogi Berra:
"How can you think and hit at the same time?"

John Lennon:
"Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

Zachary Webb, 3 1/2:
On imagination:
"I just put my mind on it and I go there."


Jeff Wallach in:
"Beyond the fairway; Zen lessons, insights and inner attitudes of golf"

"As the Scots know well, the destination doesn't matter nearly as much as the walking toward it.

"It required another long, strange trip to make these lessons clear, and over time I'd need to learn the same things yet again:
The process
The destination
The journey


Copyright © 1995 by Jeff Wallach

Is photojournalism dead?

From the Sept/Oct '96 issue of "American Photo"

Many of the answers to this question were whiny complaints about the lack of high-paying work available, and most ignored the photojournalism being done every day in newspapers (except for a nice plug from Rich Clarkson). Nonetheless, there were a couple of good answers. The first sounds a bit pretentious, like it was a speech from "The Grapes of Wrath," but it's still nice...

"As long as there are men and women and children, and the desire to fix their existence, full of joy and misery, in images...as long as this strange adventure of small, gesturing human beings lasts on this planet, the earth, somewhere on the edge of the galaxy among billions of words...as long as we don't see eye to eye and our hearts and minds are free to express themselves...as long as there is the desire to know, to taste, to love the beautiful and the ugly, the astonishing and the inane, the virtuous and the morbid...as long as there is the desire to tell stories and the thirst to see...as long as our lives, and those of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren last...as long as history lasts...photojournalism will live."
     --Roger Therond, Paris Match

Makes day-rate angst seem a little crass. Then there's Salgado...

"Roland Barthes, in his book Camera Lucida, stated that photography, rather than film or television, is the collective memory of the world. As I see it, he's right about this. Photography immortalizes a moment, which then becomes a symbol, a reference. Photography is a universal language. It doesn't need translation. Its collective memory is a mirror in which our society continually observes itself."
     --Sebastian Salgado

And Nachtwey, who practices what he preaches...

"I believe there's still a need for still images. they serve a unique function that can't be replaced by video, humanizing situations that would otherwise remain abstract. They give voice to those who wouldn't otherwise have a voice, and also provide a record of history as seen from street level, not from on high. In that way, photojournalism becomes our memory."
     --James Nachtwey

Alumni contributions:
Scott Sommerdorf, San Francisco Chronicle:
At Booches bar/pool room during a break in POY judging at the University of Missouri... Scott was losing. Badly. So we changed the stakes, giving him a handicap. Once he thought he could win, his play improved. In fact, he started running the table with some regularity. He looked up once, surprised, and noted, "It's all mental." We would suggest that this wisdom about success and failure applies equally to picture taking...

Ann Cushman in "Are You Creative"
"The process is what matters, not the product.

"Feeling empty inside, we often want to reassure ourselves by creating something other people can admire. But what we're really hungering for, whether we know it or not, is a sense of aliveness, of deep contact with the sacred mystery of our lives.

"The goal is not to produce a masterful painting, story, poem, song or television script.

"The reason to create is the sheer pleasure and power of doing it, the vibrant aliveness that comes when we're contacting and expressing our true self. In this view, the product is simply a by-product, a relative harmless side effect of the creative process."

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