Professional photography – a quality performance

Photographer: John Harris
Credit: John Harris

Sheffield. Mounted police attack women from the miners women’s support group on the Orgreave coke works mass picket during the miners’ strike of 1984-85

As part of the NUJ’s centenary celebrations, and to raise the profile of photojournalism, 100 photographs by professional press photographers have been put together in a travelling exhibition.

Peter Jenkins, vice chair of the NUJ’s photographic subcommittee, says the aim of the exhibition is to bring awareness of the importance of press photography and the impact on it of citizen journalism and the proliferation of camera phones.

The growing practice of newspapers urging readers to send in their pictures and even giving camera phones to reporters instead of sending out a ‘proper’photographer is ‘demeaning the whole industry”, he says. ‘Quality is what we’re about. None of these pictures could have been taken by a citizen journalist, and none of them could have been taken by a reporter with a camera phone,’Jenkins continued.

‘These are all pictures that have been thought out, worked for, and even where it’s a moment been captured, it’s been captured by someone with the skill to do that.’

The photographs were first exhibited at the Photographer’s Conference, London, in February this year, and were also on show at the NUJ annual delegate meeting.

The next viewing will be at IPC Media’s new Blue Finn building in Southwark, London, on 5 November to coincide with NUJ’s Stand up for Journalism day.

The photographs will then be moved to a second venue in London, which is yet to be confirmed, before going north to be displayed in Manchester.

‘The industry is in a decline at the moment, not because there’s not good quality photography out there, but because for some reason people think that if you’ve got a digital camera you’re a journalist,’said Jenkins.

‘One of the things we’re trying to do is use this exhibition of high-quality photojournalism to bang home to people how important it is to use professionals.’

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