The Art of Photojournalism

I’d like to feature photojournalist James Balog today.  James is best known for his work with National Geographic Magazine. You are blessed with gravitas when you can meld National Geographic with your name.  

James is not often included in the conversation of nature photography.  I am also guilty of that sin.  While like all great photojournalists James has photographed a wide variety of subjects, nature has always been the center piece of his work.

He is a photographer with the intent of making statements and telling stories with his imagery. We can agree or disagree with his conclusions but in the end the term photojournalist fits him to a tee.  Hopefully there will always be those like James wandering the earth with their cameras and allowing the rest of us to see what they see.  You will notice that some of the images below have been given a unique treatment.  Photojournalism can indeed be an art form.

All of his images below are portions of bigger stories that took years to produce.Lindblad Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 11 January 2011

Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland, 22 September 2011


Lowlland gorilla

American beech tree with exposed roots, North Carolina.



A few images from me.

What sort of image works well in black in white, is an opinion that varies. I think few people would choose an image of clouds and a blue sky, but it felt like a black and white to me from the very beginning.  I have shown this shot in full color….but I’ll stick with the grayscale.  I liked the contrast between the crisp and patterned clouds that dominate the scene, and the wispy smudges of clouds to the right.DeerSky 059bcd

I love Mergansers.  I found this young male Red-breasted Merganser one day in the local harbor.  All the other birds stayed at a distance but this one bird gave me plenty of opportunities.  Those first year birds are always great.RBMergD3 156

Winter has been kicking the back door down this year in much of North America and Lake Michigan is always a great place for winter photography. This shot is an old one.  There is nothing like a Great Lake on a great morning.KenoSRMarch 016


I’ve written many times about vanishing cultures, while suggesting photographers need to find them while they last.  There are very few left that exist in anything resembling their natural state.   They often dress in native garb, or dance, or herd the cattle, only when there are photographers present.  Then they are compensated either by tour leaders or individual photographers. Piper Mackay is a photographer who specializes in photo tours to African cultures and wildlife.  She is a superb photographer/artist.  After monitoring several of Piper’s recent Facebook posts I see she is now addressing the vanishing cultures issue in those posts. She also gives info about paying tribes on her blog  post labeled Paying For Photographs.  I know there are photo tour leaders who pay out money straight to tribal leaders, but Piper does things a little different and good for her for telling it like it is.  At least I know somebody has been reading the Earth Images Blog.

My biggest concern on this issue involves photographers who want to photograph the real thing.  The images you see today are often nowhere near the truth.  Today’s world of the internet, smart phones, western clothing etc. is catching up even with third world cultures?  You can see many of these indigenous cultures on 8 or 10 television documentaries or travel shows every month.  Do you really think that these people remain a remote culture that knows not what the rest of the world looks like?  Every photographer has to decide for themselves, whether or not the trip and expense is worth it, and what their own requirements are for finding the real thing.

Have the best of days,                                                                                                                   Wayne


The Dreamscapes team of photographers/workshop teachers has just put out their best of 2013 selection of photos. This is well worth the look.  Ian Plant, Joseph Rossbach, George Stocking and more make up the team.


Center on Independent Living-COIL

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