It could be stated that the demand for truth in photography dos put strains on the artistic and creative vision of the medium. Or is it the creativity of people that is trying to spoil the truthfulness of the medium?
Artistic photographer tries as hard as he can to get people to look beyond the "truth" and reality of the image. Artistic photographer wants people to free their mind and let loose in the storytelling ocean of feelings an image drafts.
Photojournalist or press photograph wants the opposite. He wants the viewer to look at his image as a truthful replication of an event or happening that was snapped out of its context and presented to make the viewer see how things are.
When a press photographer uses some of the techniques that an artistic photographer would never hesitate to use, even the tiniest bit of them the world becomes more upset over the use of artistry in the image than the content of the image it self.
Can this be because if an photographer uses painterly technique he makes us feel bad about our self because we feel pleasure about the image at the same time as we feel the pain in the image.
Looking at art is for the most part pleasurable and most often a good feeling. Looking at war zone photography is not. When you combine this as in the case of the image from Swedish photographer Paul Hansen who recently won the World press photo award (http://www.worldpressphoto.org/) you get a heap of mixed feelings that not every one can handle. For me it had double impact because I felt guilty about finding the image beautiful at same time as I found it horrifying.
Of course we do not want to see any thing added or removed from an image but does the image have to be artistically boring to be truthful. Can it be that the claim for un biased color correction and "realistic" scenery is decreasing the power of the medium to make impact and evoke feelings in the viewer.
Having said that we also have to discuss what the agenda is with an image. Is it to be a neutral replica of a given moment or can it be allowed to evoke feelings or sympathy, and if so can it not use effects to increase the impact it has or is the photographer taking a stand with side then by doing so.
When photography is at its best it touches a nerve in the viewer, releases stream of questions, anger, joy, pleasure or grief and gets a response or reaction to its publication.
A neutral image does nothing. It evokes no feelings and it gets no reaction. Just because of that it should be the agenda of any photographer and specially a photojournalist to make sure that his image is as far from being neutral as possible.
This he has to do with out taking stand with any cause even though most photographers and photo journalist do in fact want to act the opposite way. They want to make their mark on the world. They want to make the world better by showing the world how bad things really are.
Photography has two fighting worlds, the artistic world that wants the freedom of the medium to be what ever it wants to be so it can tell endless stories of the world and the truthful press and photojournalistic world that wants photography to be any thing but fictive, artistic vision and only a truth seeking tool to replicate the world as we do not know it.
Even though I want to believe I have hard time to do so, and well told story has most of the time more impact on me than the raw truth. Press photography and photojournalism hardly stands with out a caption of some sort and is therefore more an illustration to written words than a self standing piece of work.
The sooner photographers come to terms with that fact the sooner the medium is freed to do what it does best. Illustrate and have impact on people and its story rather than telling pieces of truth that maybe is not there.