Visuals can induce responses in audience that words cannot. This is probably why some photos become instantly viral. Pondering upon the experience of shooting graphic images for the journalist, Matthew Caroll, professor of Northeastern University’s School of Journalism, talks about his erstwhile life as a Boston Globe reporter.
When a journalist takes a photo, Caroll says, it is intended for a corner of the paper. However, when it suddenly gathers attention and makes it to the front page it puts the photographer into a tough spot. They should choose between fight or flight; stay and be ready to face the consequences of the situation or run away thus, completely avoiding the situation. The journalist also has his or her emotional response to look after while shooting excessively sensitive situations. He talks about how all the members of his Pulitzer Prize winning team Spotlight went through post-traumatic stress disorder after shooting their stories.
Once the photos have been taken, the next task before the journalists and editors is to choose the right image – how graphic is too graphic? With the intervention of internet, Caroll notes, people are more used to seeing graphic images. However, it has to be kept in mind that the image should not send the reader into tears right in the morning. The line between good photography and too grotesque is a tough one to draw and becomes one of the most challenging of tasks to journalists. Capturing more and more events on the frame, this will be a forever dilemma for the photographer.
N Malavika Mohan