Zapolskaya A.B. Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to the Study of Photojournalism as Professional Practice

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu7.2016.1.11

Aleksandra Borisovna Zapolskaya

Postgraduate Student, Department of Social Institutes Analysis,

Higher School of Economics

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Myasnitskaya St., 20, 101000 Moscow, Russian Federation


Abstract. The paper considers theoretical and methodological approaches to sociological research of photojournalism. Using the analytical resources of sociology of journalism, sociology of photography and visual studies, the author elaborates the conception of the production of news photography as an everyday practice of professionals who engage common-sense knowledge in order to reproduce a visual regime of modernity. The author engages R. Chalfen’s grid to analyze the photographic practice as series of events and the concepts of strategy and tactic of M. de Certeau to distinguish dominating and dominated practices of image production. The results of the sociological research of the work of the photo departments of international wire services show the main principles that guide the production of new images: journalistic (the news worthiness), visual (the spectacular) and the one that can be named “the commonsense of photojournalism”. This principle means that photojournalists produce images that they suppose as more valuable for the future viewers. Thus, it is not only the industry or the organization that guide the production but common-sense idea of what is interesting and attractive. Being dominated in the world of mass media that has its own agenda, wire service’s employees still manage to integrate their ways of seeing in the system of cultural production.

Key words: sociology of journalism, visual studies, news photography, professional practices, photojournalism.

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