Special Issue "Photojournalism as Art"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Julianne H. Newton
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA
Interests: visual ethics; visual journalism; identity; media ecology; ethics; ethnographic practice

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Wranglings about whether photojournalism is, or even can be, art are rooted in the legacies of art and photography themselves. Photography emerged at a time when realism in the painterly arts was prized and, then, ironically, even as photography was rejected as an art form, its stylistic transformations led to expressive movements in other media forms as well as in photography. Along the way, documentary and journalistic photography emerged as worthy practices for recording and reporting life through capturing the reflection of light from objects and people, both contributing to our understanding of the world around us and confounding our understanding of our relationship with reality. Concurrently, as an extension of the body, the camera evolved as a mechanized eye, capturing and probing the so-called real world both near (from camera obscure to smart phone) and far (from telescopes to spacecraft) and, in the process, expanding both our perspectives of the world around and beyond us and our introspections into the worlds within us.

At the heart of visual reportage lies the ideal of objective reporting of the best truth the observer can produce sans the unique perspective, personal biases, opinions and persuasive intentions that art not only sanctions but demands of artists. Yet core to image making are people, those whose bodies inhabit the earth to love and kill, amass and starve, dance and die, and those whose vision and behavior alter the world and her social scapes.

Some will avow that photojournalism should never be viewed as art because, as photojournalism ethicist John Long would say, "There is no place in … journalism for poetic license" (But Is It Art?, https://nppa.org/page/8812). Others will ask, "How can images of human suffering, so often the subject of photojournalism, be viewed as art"? One has only to consider classical paintings of torture to answer the question. Is the distinction that images of visual reportage portray real people and events? Yet consider Picasso's Guernica, created in response to the real-life bombing of a Spanish village, or the more realistic work, Copley's The Death of Major Peirson. Is it a matter of venue, context or platform? Consider the exhibitions of masterful visual reportage in the world's finest museums. Is it a matter of intention? When asked whether journalistic images "can occasionally rise to the level of art," photojournalist James Natchwey replied, "I am not intending to create art but rather to create a profound human communication...." When pressed about the "obvious beauty" of his photographs, which often portray horrifying scenes of war and starvation, Natchwey replied, "If there is beauty there, it is not the beauty that I made; it is beauty that exists" (Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent, 28 October 2002).

Arguing about whether photojournalism is art is, in a way, arguing about whether life is art, exploring a paradox that demands we embrace a symbiotic relationship between the objective ideal of journalism and the subjective expression of life as art. At what point, in the enveloping display of timeless reportage and art in galleries, museums, market places and media, does one become the other or subsume the other? What can we learn by exploring the conceptual labels that aim to articulate both function and form? Does conceiving of visual reportage as art diminish or elevate its communicative power? Does conceiving of visual reportage as art diminish or elevate our understanding of art itself?

This Special Issue of Arts, focusing on the topic "Photojournalism as Art", will explore the conundrum and continuum of thinking about and doing visual reportage. Is conceiving of visual journalism as an artistic practice anathema to its mission of authentic and accurate reporting and presentation of information? Can conceiving of art as inevitably an authentic expression of the mind and heart of the creator inform understanding of how aesthetically brilliant images of photojournalism come about and draw us to exhibit them on museum walls?

We invite contributors to submit both verbal and visual explorations of the topic Photojournalism as Art. Submissions will be blind reviewed by a panel of peer reviewers. Deadline for submissions in 1 June 2019. Acceptances will be sent by 1 August 2019 with an expected publication date of 1 October 2019.

Dr. Julianne H. Newton
Guest Editor


Eloina’s Mother, © Julianne Newton

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • photojournalism
  • art
  • visual reportage
  • documentary
  • visual journalism
  • aesthetics
  • ethics
  • photojournalism history
  • photographic archives
  • visual news
  • camera eye
  • visual perception
  • objectivity
  • subjectivity

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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