When Elvis Presley was asked his views on war protesters during a press conference at Madison Square Garden in 1972, he famously said: “I’m just an entertainer.” Had it been John Lennon in the hot seat, I think the reporter would have received a very different answer…
Art doesn’t have to be political, but some of the world’s greatest works are. Bob Dylan, Don McCullin, Andy Warhol and George Orwell would be remembered very differently if they shied away from creating anything that was remotely political.
Following issue 114’s interview with photojournalist Nina Berman, N-Photo received several emails suggesting the magazine had no place for politics. And that seemed like a very interesting topic to address in my usual column for N-Photo magazine, Parting Shot.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I can understand – especially in these politically charged times – why somebody would seek escapism from the political quagmire. And one of the most effective ways to do that is to indulge in a hobby.
N-Photo magazine tries to remain objective and cater for as many photographers as possible. The team tries to include content that covers all photography genres, budgets and systems. And while absolute objectivity might be a pipe dream, the magazine tries its darndest to reach it. And that includes catering for those readers who are interested in photojournalism and documentary photography. Two very similar genres that, by their very nature, involve some form of political agenda.
The views and opinions expressed by N-Photo’s contributors (including me) are their own, and asking a photojournalist to avoid any talk of politics is a little like asking a landscape photographer not to mention mountains. Political censorship sets a difficult precedent too. If photojournalism is too political for the pages of N-Photo, should it ban wildlife photographers from promoting conservation efforts?
To return to my music analogy. I really don’t think a music magazine would shy away from including an article on Bob Marley or Creedence Clearwater Revival because some of their music is political.
I want N-Photo to be a space where all photographers feel welcome to share their passion for photography. The magazine can’t guarantee you’ll always agree with the views and opinions of its contributors, but it won’t ask you to either.
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