Photojournalism is in the midst of a remarkable, and singularly unexpected, renaissance. New practices, strategies, viewpoints, techniques, and agents have radically transformed the institutions and the fundamental concepts of the field.
While it has become fashionable to bemoan the death of photojournalism, actual events suggest that something quite different is taking place. New ways of reporting the news, new imaginations of what the news might be, have challenged the hegemonic figure of the photojournalist at its core -- and given birth to the most interesting ideas.
An upheaval has occurred at once within the field -- the exhaustion of an old paradigm and its displacement by new ones -- and from without, where new images, and new kinds of images, have ruined the absolute authority of the old ways. These critical approaches -- at once ethical, political, social, aesthetic, theoretical, even epistemological -- which we call, following Allan Sekula, "antiphotojournalism," themselves have a history and a multiplicity of forms, which is what we present here.
Classically, photojournalism has been governed by a number of tropes: the heroic figure of the photographer, the economy of access to the event (getting "close enough," as Capa famously said), the iconic image, the value of 'the real' and its faithful representation in the picture, the mission of reporting the truth and conveying it to a faraway public, and often a commitment to a sort of advocacy or at least a bearing witness to terrible events.
Antiphotojournalism names a systematic critique of these cliches, and a complex set of counter-proposals. It names a profound and passionate fidelity to the image, too, an image unleashed from the demands of this tradition and freed to ask other questions, make other claims, tell other stories.
Sometimes the gesture is reflective, self-reflective -- what are we photographers doing here, what do we assume, how do we work, what do we expect and what is expected of us? Sometimes the desire is evidentiary -- not in the old sense of simply offering the 'evidence' of images to an assumedly homogenous public opinion, but in much more precise way: photographs have become evidence in war crimes tribunals. Sometimes the innovation is technological, whether it involves working with the hi-tech resources of advanced satellite imagery or the low-tech crowd-sourcing of participatory protest imaging. Sometimes the practices are archival, even bordering on the fetishistic. And sometimes the question is simply whether we even need images at all.
- Carles Guerra and Thomas Keenan