Art Term


Photojournalism is a form of journalism which tells a news story through powerful photography

Sir Don McCullin CBE
Cyprus (1964, printed 2013)
ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland

Photojournalism began with the first pictures of war published in newspapers during the Crimean War and the American Civil War. However even at this time, the image was only there to enhance the text, not lead the story.

It wasn’t until the development of the smaller, lighter 35mm cameras and flashbulbs of the 1920s that a ‘Golden Age’ of Photojournalism really took hold. The likes of Cartier-Bresson presented candid images of their life and times.

The rise of the photo-essay and the magazines Life, Vu and Picture Post, responded to the greater demand for images of news stories and allowed photojournalism to blossom. Better inks and papers for magazines meant full-page image spreads, allowing the image to tell the story, rather than the small engravings in the newspapers of previous decades.

Photojournalism differs from other forms of photography (e.g. documentary photography, street photography or celebrity photography) by its need to remain honest and impartial.

  • Photography

    Photography refers to the process or practice of creating a photograph – an image produced by the action of light on a light-sensitive material

  • Documentary photography

    Documentary photography is a style of photography that provides a straightforward and accurate representation of people, places, objects and events, and is often used in reportage

  • Magnum Photos

    Magnum Photos is a New York based photographic co-operative founded in 1947 by four photographers, including Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, that aims to give photographers the freedom to record what they see without having to work to the agendas of magazines and newspapers

  • American social realist photography

    American social realist photography refers to photographs that documented rural poverty during America’s Great Depression of the 1930s and 1940s

explore this term

selected artists in the collection

selected artworks in the collection

photojournalism at tate

  • Cruel Tender

    Cruel and Tender past exhibition at Tate Modern 5 June – 7 September 2003

  • Conflict, Time, Photography

    An exhibition exploring the relationship between photography and sites of conflict over time at Tate Modern, opens November 2014