Capturing Culture With a Camera

Mar 31, 2015

In 2015, nearly everyone has a camera in their back pocket. Is there still a need to employ photographers? 

David Guttenfelder, an Iowa native who grew up in Waukee and was named Time’s 2013 Instagram photographer of the year for his coverage of everyday life in North Korea, says 'yes.' Good photographers just have to integrate cell phone camera into their professional work.

“I started just carrying my phone as my second camera to be creative,”  Guttenfelder said. 

The phone camera has transformed our profession and really the way that people think about photography.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Guttenfelder about his career, as well as the evolution of photojournalism.

Guttenfelder will be a featured speaker at "From Local  to Global - Photojournalism in the New Millennium", a symposium taking place at the University of Iowa on April 3.

Guttenfelder has spent the last 20 years traveling the world capturing culture with his camera. He photographed the Rwandan genocide and the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. For him, photography is about connecting with people.  

“I think just being a human being and relating to people, making them feel like there was a window to the rest of the world, and that there were people out there that actually cared about them was the most important thing for me the whole time that I’ve been doing this job,” Guttenfelder explains.

Then, Danny Wilcox Frazier, an Iowa City-based freelance photographer, and Sarah Mercier, Clearance Manager and Broadcast Productions Manager at Newseum in Washington D.C., join the conversation. They say that while photojournalists are constatingly trying to adapt to a new media landscape, their work still captures what words alone cannot.