Memorable photographs are hard to come by; however, according to a recent study done at the University of Minnesota, they are also worth it. The study went about trying to answer the question of what makes a “photograph worth publishing”, when Instagram and Twitter are flooded worth amateur images every day. Quite resoundingly, the research participants responded that a quality image makes a photograph worth publishing.
In truth, this doesn’t shock me all too much. I believe that in an era of ‘citizen journalists’ and ‘user-generated content’, people still, on the whole, desire quality over quantity. They want the powerful images, the meaningful images. They don’t just want a photograph of something that anyone could take. It also was not surprising to read that people were more drawn to photographs in which the photographer(s) had access to a scene that others were not allowed to have. Because people crave the most powerful images, and those often come from places that not many are allowed to be.
For example, in this story, about a typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013, has an excerpt, at best, recounting one journalist’s recounting of seeing the destruction that the typhoon had left in its’ wake. However, the rest of the article is focused on photographs. The top of the page is marked by a black and white photograph of refugees surrounded by the devastation that is left of their homes. Beneath the article, there is a slideshow of more black and white pictures, thoroughly depicting, in a way no writing could ever hope to, the pure force and loss that this massive storm caused.
That is one more reason that photojournalism is still greatly appreciated by the majority of individuals: it tells a story in a way words never could. Reading about a house leveled in a storm off the coast of some small town in the Philippines is one thing.
Seeing the space once occupied by that house now filled with rubble, is a whole other thing entirely.