Storytelling through pictures keeps evolving

— image credit:

Video killed the photography star.

Or maybe not.

In the 23 years I’ve been toting cameras around my neck for a living, the technology of the tools I use to do my job has changed tremendously.

First it was the advent of digital scanners and Photoshop, which allowed us to digitize our photographs and negatives into a computer where we could then tweak and fine tune our images with a few swipes of a mouse instead of painstaking contortions of our fingers underneath the enlarger lens. Then the cameras themselves became digital.

Where once we were constrained by the time demands of processing and drying film and then making prints, we could now, if required, supply editors with photographs as quickly as we could plug into a computer. The arrival of the Internet made that necessary.

And now we find ourselves in the midst of another bold leap forward. Recently a video camera showed up on my desk. It seems the popularity of such video-sharing web sites as youtube has made editors think people want to see videos on newspaper websites. Whether or not that is the case, remains to be seen.

Rather than getting overwhelmed by all this technological upheaval, photojournalists have embraced it to enhance our ability to tell stories. Computers and digital scanners liberated us from the time-consuming labours of the darkroom, freeing up time to tell more stories. Digital cameras allowed us to tell those stories in a more timely way. And now the multimedia capabilities of the Internet are giving us new possibilities to tell stories in different, exciting ways.

Where once our coverage of stories began and ended with the two-dimensional image on the printed page, we can now use little audio recorders and simple software programs to create an audio-visual experience for our online readers. Video kicks it up another notch.

But as we stride into this new era, we must not lose sight of our main function, and our greatest value: telling stories. Because at the heart of all these technological bells and whistles is the innate desire people have to know what’s going on in their world, their community, their neighbourhood, and our privilege, as storytellers, to sate that curiousity.

In this special issue, I get to share with you some of my favourite stories from the past year. Alongside the images you’ll find little commentaries about why I liked them, or why that particular story stood out from the hundreds we covered. And yes, there’s also a multimedia version on our website.


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