Photography – Local Photographers are Better Suited to Document Disasters Like the Gulf Oil Spill

No photographer ever hopes to photograph a disaster of the magnitude of the recent BP oil spill near the Gulf Coast. While disasters like these are by no means desirable, these kinds of situations do present unique opportunities for local photojournalists.

Local journalists and photographers have an advantage over national journalists and photographers in situations like these. They know the area and possibly even the people involved. They have a unique local perspective to offer. In fact in the case of the BP oil spill, it was a local newspaper, the Courier in Housma, Louisiana, that was granted permission to accompany the fisherman to get their stories. So while all of the big papers were of course covering the disaster, it was a small local publication that was able to get the first real inside look.

At the same time this professional “opportunity” also complicates the workload of local photojournalist and journalists. They still must cover their local beats, while making an effort to address the colossal story at hand. In the case of The Courier, it actually spent the first week relying on AP photos like many pother publications. It wasn’t until later that they had the opportunity to photograph it first hand.

While Louisiana photographers are struggling to capture every end of the story, photographers in neighboring states are waiting for the story to come to them. It’s not until the oil washes up on their shores, that they will find themselves in the same situation as the Louisiana photographers. Until then, these photographers will wait, while those those at The Courier and other Louisiana publication continue to offer a fist hand look as this astronomical disaster.