Can Pho­tog­ra­phy Help Us Through En­vi­ron­men­tal Cri­sis?


Joseph Pulitzer said that the role of a jour­nal­ist was to “com­fort the af­flicted and to af­flict the com­fort­able.” Many en­vi­ron­men­tal pho­to­graphs show the vic­tims of en­vi­ron­men­tal abuse in or­der to hu­man­ize the prob­lem and make the case for change. These pho­to­graphs are in the tra­di­tion of the muck­rak­ers of the turn of the cen­tury and the Farm Security Ad­min­is­tra­tion photos shot dur­ing the De­pres­sion. I be­lieve these pho­to­graphs are a nec­es­sary part of an en­vi­ron­men­tal story. How­ever, their suc­cess de­pends on the vis­ual na­ture and sever­ity of the prob­lem, as well as the em­pa­thy of the viewer.

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