Eros Hoagland Believes Photojournalism Does Not Change The World

Screenshots taken from video.

Photojournalism plays an integral part in conveying truths and stories in the form of images showing timely newsworthy events, connecting to the viewers from everywhere around the world. However, Eros Hoagland, a burned out photojournalist believes photojournalism does not change the world. In this documentary video “We Fear Wolves We Never See Them”, Hoagland shares how photographing the drug war in Mexico has exhausted him and decided to move out of photojournalism.

In 1984, Eros Hoagland’s father who was a photojournalist was killed while photographing the war in El Savador. Hoagland then inherited his father’s cameras and subsequently followed his footsteps in photojournalism career, which led him to covering the drug war in Mexico in 2005. 

The video showcased a powerful series of Hoagland’s photographs taken during his photo-journalistic work in Mexico. He differentiated himself from other photographers by not trying to outdo other photographers who were chasing the dramatic moments in the war. Instead, he developed his own photography approach by playing a part as an active observer of an incident, capturing the scenes as if they were seen by a witness passing by. By shifting the camera perspective to the witnesses, this effectively evoked a strong sense of realism as if the viewers of the photographs were truly witnessing the events captured from a safe distance. “My pictures don’t scream, they whisper”, said Hoagland.

After experiencing countless tragedies, seeing frequent deaths and violence during his work, Hoagland realized that photography has changed the way he sees the world. Consequently he claimed that his emotions were numbed and he experienced difficulty showing empathy to people. He revealed the painful truth that he no longer believes photographs can change the world and photojournalism is not important. He reasoned that the world is not ready for change and did not want to. He took a moment to remember his father and friends who have died and suffered from their photo-journalistic career, and decided the danger that came along with the work is not worth it.

Whether photography can change the world or not, it is up to us to decide what photography truly means to us on a more personal level. It is also important to acknowledge and show appreciation to the lives lost and sacrifices by the photojournalists from all around the world. Even though a photograph may not save the world, it is undeniably a powerful way of seeing the world and that itself is important.