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Photojournalism: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Have you ever heard the saying, 'A picture is worth a thousand words'? Photojournalists use images to tell a news story. In this lesson, you'll learn about a photojournalist's job and see examples of photographs that show you the news.

What is Photojournalism?

Do you ever read the newspaper or read news online? People who write the news stories that you read are called journalists. A journalist looks for events that have happened, gathers information about the events and the people involved in them, and then creates stories about the events to share with the public.

A photojournalist does pretty much the same thing, except instead of writing stories using words, a photojournalist tells stories using images. Photojournalism is the process of bringing stories to the public's attention through the use of photographs and other media, including video.

Photos and Stories

At the beginning, photojournalists took photos to go along with news stories. There might be a long, written story about a news event and one or two photos to go with it. The photographs were very popular because they helped people really see what was going on in the news.

Soon, there were also entire stories being told mostly by the photos, with just a few sentences in-between to show the relationships among the photographs. These photo stories became very popular in magazines in the 1930s and after.

How can photos tell a story? When you look at the photo called 'Migrant Mother', you can feel her sadness and worry. She has two small children and no way to feed them. She's tired.


Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange
migrant


This photograph, taken by photojournalist Dorothea Lange, is often listed as one of the most important photographs of all time. When it was first published, it helped people all over the United States understand how bad the conditions were for migrant workers during the 1930s. Great photographs tell stories by showing the feelings of the people who are in the image.

Today, in the age of the internet, many newspapers and magazines are now completely online. Photographs, videos and other images are even more important than they were before, but because almost everyone has a camera available, many images that are online are taken by everyday people, like you! When news happens in their neighborhoods, people can take photographs and upload them to websites. This means there isn't as great a need for professional photojournalists as there was in the past, although there are still professional photojournalists.

Famous Photojournalists

Jessie T. Beals
beals

The first female photojournalist was Jessie T. Beals, who took her first full-time job as a newspaper photographer in 1902. It was very rare for women to be photojournalists, especially at this time when women rarely even held jobs outside the home.

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