My interest in photography has increased the last couple of years. I think, partly, it's in my blood, as three of my uncles had photo studios when I was growing up. They used to do weddings, and parties. But its not a cheap hobby, as "decent" lenses starts around $500 and good once starts around $700. But with digital SLRs now starts below $1000, now is the best time to get one.

Mainstream camera users think small camera's are great, and focuses on "Megapixels" without really knowing what it mean. I'm always facinated to hear people say their camera has 6+ Megapixel cameras, but when you ask them if they ever print anything larger than 5x7 they'll say "No". That's usually how you can tell if someone got ripped off by marketing terms.

I recently saw a photo journalism documentary while house sitting for a friend. The documentary was in one of those In-Demand films by some indie studio (Sundance, I think). The documentary followed photojournalists that document wars and ther human sufferings around the world. The pictures they produced are too graphic to be shown in CNN and other mainstream cable news network. But they often appear in Time Magazine and Newsweek.

It was really interesting to hear their stories. How they are condemned for different reasons. One of the most common criticism they get is people would ask them why they didn't put their cameras down and help a guy about to be executed by a mob of people. Or that why do they profit from other people's suffering. The fact is, it's not a profitable profession. Most of them make barely enough to pay for their next plane ticket to another part of the world. The documentary focused on photojournalists that are NOT on the payroll of major news networks like CNN, MSNBC, NY Times and others. Mainstream photographers always stay in hotels protected by US or UN troops. But in return, their pictures are subject to US approvals.

Real photojournalists usually stay in condemned buildings, or with locals, and would hide their pictures from US soldiers on checkpoints. This reminds me of mainstream footage of Saddam's statue falling down. CNN, FoxNews and others showed Iraqi people pulling the statue down and celebrating. While photo journalist pictures that were not confiscated by US troops showed how it took the troops hours to set things up and then gather Iraqis to make it look like they're the one pulling the statue down.

But of course, war is all about propaganda. No one can forget the Jessica Lynch story as well as the Pat Tillman story. Both people and their family were used by the Pentagon to help their publicity.

Speaking of pictures, I saw a Before and After photos of Katrina and found it really touching. I don't think one has to be a bleeding heart liberal to understand what people down there lost. Also its easy for people who weren't there to complain about survivors staying in hotels paid for by taxpayers, but I think these side-by-side pictures show what people have lost in that tragic event.


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