In the 1930’s – 40’s commercial photographers were considered the artists of their times. The scene shifted in the 1950’s – 60’s and the photojournalists who worked for Life and Look magazines were the most celebrated photographic artists. Today photojournalists are no longer in demand to tell us about the world, because TV does it with the evening news. Mass media magazines now use photographers to illustrate stories on movie stars, sports and newsmakers and are no longer the creative galleries for commercial and editorial photography.
One of the leading uses of photography by the mass media came to be called photojournalism. From the late ‘twenties’ to the early ‘fifties’ what might have been the golden age of this speciality – photographers worked largely as the possessors of special and arcane skills, like the ancient priests who practiced and monopolized the skills of pictography or carving or manuscript illumination. In those halcyon days the photographer enjoyed a privileged status.