2020 was a period of groundbreaking social and political upheaval, in combination with a colossal epidemiological crisis—and it urgently redefined the working conditions of photojournalists. The historic 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and the devastating Covid-19 pandemic presented unique challenges for photojournalism, forcing photographers into a terrain defined by new ethical, technological, and safety (emotional and physical) concerns, as well as innovative attacks on press freedom.
Through a series of interviews—with top photographers who covered 2020’s biggest crises, as well as key photo editors who grappled with these unprecedented obstacles inside the newsroom—Through the Lens: The Pandemic and Black Lives Matter unpacks the industry’s most critical debates as it sheds light on the experiences and thought processes of the visual journalists themselves. Importantly, this book encourages readers to consider the efforts behind the camera lens: the challenges and risks visual journalists face to bring us the news in pictures.
Richly illustrated with evocative photos, Through the Lens is a timely and vital look at the role photojournalism serves in a world of crisis. It is a powerful follow-up to Lauren Walsh’s previous title, Conversations on Conflict Photography, which offers a crucial exploration of the visual documentation of war and humanitarian crisis.
Table of Contents
A note on the interviews
Interviews with US-based photojournalists
2. Nina Berman
3. Patience Zalanga
4. Spencer Platt
Interviews with photojournalists outside of the US
5. Rodrigo Abd
6. Aly Song
Interviews with Directors of Photography
7. Danese Kenon
8. MaryAnne Golon
Lauren Walsh teaches at The New School and New York University, where she is the Director of the Gallatin School’s Photojournalism Lab. She is also the Director of Lost Rolls America, a national public archive of photography and memory.
This powerful book focuses on the crises of 2020—but its implications go well beyond that one year. Through the Lens asks us to rethink the ways we view the world through images and to understand that unconscious sociopolitical patterns can be influenced by visuals. This important book is essential reading for anyone interested in how history and culture are shaped by the camera.
SHEILA PREE BRIGHT, award-winning photog-rapher and author of #1960Now: Photographs of Civil Rights Activists and Black Lives Matter Protests
Through the Lens is a nuanced and sophisticated exploration of the role of photography in the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter, two historic moments that have raised fundamental questions about photojournalism ethics, identity, and the impact of technological shifts on the field and norms of visual documentation. Dr. Walsh weaves compelling interviews with erudite analysis to contextualize the powerful photos that tell the stories of these transformational events.
DR. COURTNEY RADSCH, former Advocacy Director with the Committee to Protect Journalists
Through the Lens provides a rare look into the world of photojournalism, giving extraordinary insight into the experiences of those who photographed 2020’s major upheavals. It also forces us to think about the social, political, and historical dynamics of our time and the vital role that photos can play in contemporary conversations. Put simply, it is a masterful overview of the role of photography today.
BARBARA DAVIDSON, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer