In 2015, Michel Guerrin wrote for Le Monde. We published his article.
What’s good about photojournalism is the fact that you never get bored. Debates and polemical topics frequently pop up from nowhere. We swear and argue on social media networks. We talk about fakes on these platerforms such as doping in the sports world. Last February, the author of a documentary on the city of Charleroi, France, was first awarded, and then publicly discredited by the mayor who finds his pictures too dark, and by his peers who accuse him to have staged his story.
The 2015 summer controversy came from a former NYT journalist, AD Coleman, who put a damper on rare and mythical pictures taken by Robert Capa during the 1944 Normandy landings. For seventy years, the official History records have stated that a laboratry technician had spoiled nearly all the rolls during their processing. However Coleman, affirms on his blog, that these rolls had never existed : Capa would have gotten scared and quickly left the beach.
No doubt these never-ending and hopeless debates, polluted by sterile notions of truth and lies, and polluted by morality rather than reflection, will lead Visa Pour L’Image, the main international photojournalism festival held in Perpignan, starting on Saturday, August 29th. But these debates also show that the photoreporter profession no longer, or hardly exist. It was a well-established profession. We no longer here about it. “We have become invisible”, says Christian Ducasse, host of the professionnal photographers association.
Among 36 000 press card owners in France , currently only 800 are photographers However there are still as many pictures found in the media. Except they come from all over the world Photojournalism as a career, has been replaced by versatile photographers, immersed in multimedia, communication, art, fashion and media, all at the same time.
This is caracteristical of our era, to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time, however this is not the best way to defend a profession. Lets, for instance, take the concert photographer, whose mission is to inform through images, as others would do using words. During the summer, he earns a living because of the numerous festivals he participates in. Photographers spend their time begging for a few minutes at the front of the satge, and in return they are humiliated, and despised, “caged-up” a hundred meters away from the scene, and sometimes even physically threatened.
If we link this to the latest photographical controversy that occurred at the end of the summer, we can ask ourselves whether it was necessary to publish, as some did, pictures of Ayoub El-Khazzani, the Thalys train gunman, handcuffed. Here is the link, we live in a society which prefers to deny reality by forbidding images, and which tries to hinder the ones who try to show what happens, instead of reflecting on what the picture truly reveals. We live in a society that reassures itself by looking into the mirror of truncated images or that are pure communication.
Le Monde, August 29 2015