Depression Magazines Photo Essay Photojournalist Fortune Home Page Communism Strikebreaking Wards Wool
Photographers as Journalists
manhattan night life OBJECTIVITY AND SELECTIVITY:   Although their documentary characteristics gave industrial photography and FSA photographs the pretense of objectivity, each time these photographs were used in journalism or legislation, they fulfilled a subjective purpose. Corporation stories aimed to tell a hopeful story about business and the potential it offered for a revitalized American Dream. Fortune instilled qualities such as self-reliance, innovation, efficiency, and a willingness to mesh tradition with innovation as the beautiful strengths of industry. Innovation in particular became the innate quality of successful American laymen and leaders. Similar to print journalists, photojournalists "wrote" with an opinion and purpose and they were not beyond presenting selective images to support their ideas. Margaret Bourke-White, for example, often manipulated her subjects to achieve a particular effect (Watkins). Albeit with dignity, Walker Evans documented character types and utilized only those photographs that upheld the types and personalities he selected. If critics hold photographers to a higher standard of objectivity than they hold print journalists, it is because expectations of photographic media are greater than those of print media. Charles Darwent suggests, "The persistent belief that the camera never lies means that the merest suspicion that it might be doing so is greeted with outrage." The collections of photographs in Fortune are not only artwork but narrative, journalistic works. Understanding Fortune's photography from a journalistic perspective allows readers to resist "outrage," but the magazine and photographers' motives and methods deserve consideration. Luce may have favored debate, but he qualified his policy, "Here at Time Inc. we strive to achieve a consensus. A consensus of opinion and conviction. . . We like dissenters, [but] dissenters must be the exception rather than the rule" (Time/Life). Fortune allowed various viewpoints but maintained a unified voice in its text and photographs.

phillip morris MODUS OPERANDI:   The conventions of creating and reading pictures allowed photographers of Fortune to capture documentary images that their audience read as fact, and internalized as identity. Stott describes how Fortune made business come alive through detailed, intelligent photography, and indeed, business remained alive in the American consciousness. Fortune's photographers constructed unity in the tumultuous age of the Depression by manipulating photographic stories--choosing their images and narratives with deliberate purpose. Bourke-White used the industry photo to supply corporation stories of success and faith in business, while Salomon and Evans used the snap shot camera to elevate everyday American actions to artistic equality.

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