Aesthetics of protest: an examination of the photojournalistic approach to protest imagery
Authors: Veneti, A.
Journal: Visual Communication
Volume: forthcoming August 2017
Publisher: SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Images of protests and demonstrations are crucial to both social movements and protesters who wish to communicate their identity and their messages to wider audiences. However, the photographing of such political events by press photographers is a complex process. The current analysis focuses on questions of aesthetics surrounding issues of visuality regarding protests and demonstrations. Based on empirical data from 17 semi-structured in-depth interviews with Greek photojournalists, this paper examines what is photographed during a protest and how this is affected by the photojournalists’ aesthetic criteria. Drawing on scholarly work on photojournalism (Ritchin and Åker) and photography (Sontag), this article discusses that besides the presumption in the principal of recording reality, photojournalists’ practice is also infused with subjective language and influenced by art photographers’ techniques. Thereupon, the main argument of this paper is that the employment of hybridized photographing practices by photojournalists can have an impact upon their visual decisions with regard to what and how is photographed during a protest. The product of such practices is usually high quality, captivating images with apparent affective qualities.