I got to watch Cathy Pearson’s tremendous documentary on Photo Journalism called Get The Picture. The documentary’s central narrative is around the life of the Picture Editor John G Morris. The documentary open with John explaining what his role as a Photo Editor was – essentially the guy who commissions photographers, and then chooses the appropriate photos to be used in a publication. This in itself doesn’t sound remarkable until you consider both the publications he has worked for – Life, New York Times, Washington Post and the National Geographic, that’s before you even take into account the his association with the Magnum group. John came to prominence as a Photo Editor during the second world war, and has been involved with Photo Journalism ever since, working with photographers such as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier Bresson and Werner Bischof and his relationship with these photographers and others also contributed to John’s importance. The relationships weren’t simple employer/employee but relationships grounded on mutual respect and trust and as often as not a common set of goals and values in photo journalism – get the truth out to the public of what is happening and let the picture tell its own story.
The documentary from time to time detours to look at important aspects of photo journalism, particularly the work done in conflicts by journalists – reflecting on what motivates these people to go into such dangerous circumstances, the changing conditions – until the 90s journalists where left alone as the protagonists in a conflict saw journalists as means to get their side of a conflict told and now are as much a target as anyone else because they can show the brutalities of conflict and realities of the acts committed. So you can see why I say tragic, but why uplifting? We John has ben widowed 3 times, but managed to move on and not only find love again but embrace life, and fully appreciate what he has, something that really comes across.
If you have even a passing interest in photography, or world events – this is a very worthwhile documentary to watch. Sadly, not nominated in the Oscar’s Best Documentary Feature category this year – which is a shame as it punches a lot more effective than notable winners such as An Inconvenient Truth. On the happier side it does have some other successes.
For more information:
- Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/getthepicturethefilm
- IMDB Entry
- SKY TV Info – showing the documentary at the moment
- Get the Picture: A Personal History of Photojournalism (Crime and Justice: A Review of Research) – the orignal book by John G Morris