Photojournalism isn’t simply about taking a photo. In fact, photojournalism is about creating an image that can tell a story if it had to stand alone.
We often times see images of politicians which depict motion and in some cases emotion which are used to support the narrative of the accompanying article.
However, captured emotion is not limited to politicians and their political rhetoric.
Think about an image of young children working in a sweatshop in some third-world country or the image of a mother crying after learning her child was killed in a drive-by shooting. Those images are raw…just as a raw as the emotion exhibited.
The photojournalist’s job is to be ever-present, be invisible to the surrounding circumstances, and capture raw emotion through the subject’s eyes because the eyes are what truly tells the story.
A great example of photojournalism at work took place September 11, 2001, when Chief White House Photographer Eric Draper documented President George W. Bush’s every move. He’s later quoted in The National Geographic series titled The President’s Photographeras saying “I could stand just inches from the President and make pictures and he would look right through me. It was like I wasn’t even there.”
My own experience with capturing emotion is broad. There are two instances that stick out in my mind. On September 27, 2017, while investigating a crash in Immokalee, Florida, a young boy walked up to deputies and told them he was lost and couldn’t find his way back home. In his eyes you see both relief yet an insurmountable amount of stress.
On January 7, 2018, a car plunged into a retention pond in Immokalee, Florida killing a mother and two of her children. The family and community came together for a candlelight vigil just four days later. Seen here, is an image I shot which captured raw emotion. This young man had just lost his mother and two siblings in that tragic crash. He came to that vigil full of stress, but yet relieved in the sense that he knew he had the support of family and the community behind him. He never said a word to me, but you can see it in his eyes.
The images alone are indicative of stress, worry, and relief. You may not know the whole story, but their eyes tell us more about what’s going on than what’s not.
Travis is a photojournalist and portrait photographer based in southwest Florida. He’s been featured in the Immokalee Bulletin and his images have been featured in Florida Weekly. He’s also a member of National Press Photographers Association.