I looked up the definition of photojournalism in the Random House dictionary and this is what they had:
1. journalism in which photography dominates written copy, as in certain magazines.
2. news photography, whether or not for primarily pictorial media, publications, or stories.
1940–45; photo- + journalism
Wikipedia has a more through explanation of the term:
“Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, and in some cases to video used in broadcast journalism or for personal use. Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography (such as documentary photography, street photography or celebrity photography) by the qualities of:
* Timeliness — the images have meaning in the context of a recently published record of events.
* Objectivity — the situation implied by the images is a fair and accurate representation of the events they depict in both content and tone.
* Narrative — the images combine with other news elements to make facts relatable to the viewer or reader on a cultural level.
Like a writer, a photojournalist is a reporter but he or she must often make decisions instantly and carry photographic equipment, often while exposed to significant obstacles (physical danger, weather, crowds).”
What is a photojournalist?
Here is the perspective of a photojournalist.
A journalist is someone who tells stories.
A photographer is one who takes pictures of people, places and things in a word – nouns.
A photojournalist combines the functions of both the journalist and photographer tells stories with words but not just the nouns but also the most imortant element in telling a story the action.
A photojournalist is one who captures the action, in a word – verbs.
To tell the whole story from beginning to end the photojournalist needs to use all of the story telling elements. What separates him from just a photographer making pictures is the overarching reason of making the photographs is to communicate to the viewer what happened in the story. Photojournalism is powerful because pictures transcend language barriers. A photojournalist records facts with a camera and presents them to the viewer as truth. This is why ethics are important to photojournalist.
For more interesting thoughts on this check out the blog of Mark Hancock He has thought a lot about this subject and has arrived at the same place I have. See how he explores it further. (He is a good example of a working photojournalist. At least I hope he is still working) Compared to most Seattle photographers I am still practicing photojournalism and a subset called wedding photojournalism. It helps to pay the mortgage since the newspaper business model seems to be crumbling.