The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

Christopher Anderson Hates Photojournalism

I'd like to share a select passage of a fascinating interview with our longtime "friend" Christoper Anderson, hosted by the esteemed Joerg Colberg:

CA: Capitolio, in its book form, as you astutely observed, is not photojournalism, at least not in the way that that word is loaded. True, some of the pictures were taken and originally used in a journalistic context, but assembled as they are in the form of the book, the term photojournalism is inaccurate. But I have always felt uncomfortable with the term "photojournalist". In terms of my documentary work, there has always been a difference between my role and that of a reporter. If there can be a comparison, it is that I am perhaps an editorialist. My job has always been to comment on what I witness as opposed to the reporting of an event. I am subjective. I have a point of view. There is no such thing as objectivity in photography. I don't believe in facts, but I AM obsessed with truth. And my work always deals with this distinction (my first book, Nonfiction, is an example). My work is a truth, but it is my truth, my experience. That is all I can offer.

In terms of what that means for Photojournalism (capital P), that is a large question. I don't think this idea of subjectivity is anything new, it is just that somewhere along the way, we convinced ourselves that the glorious photojournalism was about objective fact. In reality it never was. Robert Capa himself photographed in the Spanish Civil War as an act of anti-fascist combat, not as an objective reporter. Perhaps a more precise question is what it means to photography with a small p. What I mean to say is that I believe this line between what we call photojournalism and fine art photography no longer exists (let's exclude from this conversation wire service news photography [Ed.:—Why? Because it pretends more loudly to be objective?] and purely esoteric conceptual, fine art photography). I am very much a part of a generation of photographers that wanted to explode this distinction between art and photojournalism. We don't even have this conversation anymore, because it is no longer a valid starting point.

Much is made about the idea that Magnum now has "fine art" photographers. But what an Alec Soth or a Jim Goldberg does is in fact documentary photography. Their approach and tools may be slightly different, but fundamentally it is documentary photography. What then is the distinction? Is it the large format camera? Is it the subject matter? Is it the black and white film? By what criteria would you place a Nan Goldin on one side of the line or the other? Or a Luc Delahaye, or William Eggleston or even a Andreas Gursky? What about Robert Frank? In this sense I feel freer than ever before. I feel totally liberated from terms like "photojournalist" or "fine art photographer".

The rest is well worth a read, and I'd definitely recommend taking a look at Chris's book, as the photography is phenomenal as usual. I'd say more about this new insight, but first I have more pressing matters on my mind.

Like avoiding a Delaplane-induced hangover. Amber Bock on tap is almost Kryptonite in my hands.

Oh, by the way—I don't really mean anything by that title. It's the beer talking, Chris!

 Tags: christopher anderson #DailyFodder

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