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Fascinating Video Reveals the Manufactured Nature of Some Photojournalism

"This is what we have to create if we want to sell." Ruben Salvadori, an anthropologist and photographer, spent months in East Jerusalem, where he initially went as a conflict photographer. Soon, however, his anthropological training kicked in, and he found a subject that was more interesting to him personally: the photographers themselves.

He quickly discovered a subculture beyond the imagery, in which photojournalists are pushed to "seek and create this drama even when the situation lacks it." What's perhaps most interesting is the middle ground between staged and organic that many of these shots tend to be in: though they're not necessarily set up, the presence of a myriad of photographers with large cameras tends to encourage an exaggeration of normal behavior that lends the drama they seek. Now obviously, he nor I are implying that all images are staged or at the very least heavily influenced, but it does illuminate quite a bit how societies driven by sensationalistic media consumption have fed into and been perpetuated by this and certainly encourages the viewer to be discerning in what sort of "truth" they take from a photo. For me, it really makes me wonder where we can find truth. What are your thoughts?

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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"Hey look at this picture of a tiger i took"
"The tiger is in a cage at a zoo."
"Yeah, but it's still a tiger."

Paints photojournalists in a very bad light but no surprising. I've always said that you can take a camera into any city in the world and get pictures of hope or pictures of despair depending on what you are looking for or more importantly, what you are paid to find.

well if you dont play the game, I guess you aint getting a pay check.

i guess you are right but your ethics as a journalist are no where to be seen. Why not just do other types of photography that doesnt require you being exposed to being shot in the head.

I see this images as emblematic. Does the photo of the soldiers in the riot gear really show what is going on at that specific moment? No, but it could be potentially be emblematic of the situation as a whole.

As Wolf Koenig once said: "You're telling a lie to tell the truth"

Back in 2003 a situation similar to this led to the death of a British student photographer in Gaza.

haaaaa everything is fine but they kids and young people have nothing only stone and force have everything come on how can one person have in mostely images photography and concept is good but its fake show the truth Israil occupied them FStopper i am big fan of your work but this is wrong to show the bad to good.

This video is over 5 years old...Although the topic is interesting, it is not all the same, and most photojournalists are going through hell for their work. I don't feel this really depicts the reality of most of them.

clip are actually old, but it is actually good to show reminder there are these type of practice exist. And these practice are as old as photojournalism itself. When we know there are these kind of practice exist, you tend to get new insight into how some of dramatic piece are taken in current events are shown on media. This give us ability to think critically and give a pause to analyze how particular shot are taken regardless of dramatic or emotional appealing nature of particular shot.

Yet another layer of human behaviour in conflict that is a sub-text (who knows how many layers) below the actual event, the conflict or the elements that create the conflict. There is always another side, another layer, it seems, to be explored. Which is why I feel that people with a simplistic view of politics, power dynamics and the very nature of human conflict, are doing themselves a disservice by embracing their ignorance (in the true sense of the word). If those people gain political power they become very dangerous to us all.And I see that jostling for power, based on ignorance and fear/loathing of The Other happening all over the globe now.

Wonder if it would look even more realistic if they add some people with their smartphones searching for pokemon to the scene.

unfortunately this specific conflict is way too easy to document and manipulate. a wannabe photojournalist can brag about being in a 'war zone' during the day and drink beer on the beach by night. it's hardly the connditions one would have to face in iraq, afganistan etc.

"To frame is to exclude." - Susan Sontag