Aren’t good Photos worth anything anymore? (Chicago Sun-Times-Debacle)


When Chicago Sun-Times (CST) released its whole team of photo-journalists in favour of iPhone-amateur journalists at the end of May, a long overdue debate on the value of good photography has been subsequently kicked off. It doesn’t go without notice that creative work, photo-and videography amongst it, is increasingly regarded as worthless. Whether this is due to the download-mentality of the internet or due to affordable photo technology is hard to tell. By all means, articles are piling up referring to poorly paid photographers and tricks diverse companies use to make photographers hand in their photos for free. The Chicago Sun-Times debacle therefore appears to be especially interesting to clarify once and for all how much money good photography is actually worth. Is really anyone having a modern camera around their necks capable of taking good photos? Can a layperson with an iPhone take pictures good enough to be published on the front page of large newspapers?


Left Chicago Tribune, right Chicago Sun-Times


It should be to no surprise, then, that many photography enthusiasts have been carefully examining photo content that now decorates the CST’s website and newspaper since the changeover. Meanwhile, there is even a blog comparing photos of the CST with ones from the Chicago Tribune, who still relies on experienced photographers. What strikes the eye immediately is the heavily declining quality of the CST pictures ever since photo journalists were exchanged for amateurs. Slowly but surely, this confirms what has been long clear to all of us: for good photos, it doesn’t suffice to simply hand over a camera to your average John Doe (let alone an iPhone) and directing him to “point it towards the approximately right direction and pull the trigger”. It is still the photographer and not his equipment who is making the photos. Hopefully, this will be evident to various decision-makers in future thanks to the Chicago Sun-Times. 🙂

An amusing quote in conclusion:

Ernest Hemingway: “Good pictures, what camera do you use?” Irving Penn: “What typewriter do you use?”


  1. […] one hand, the price for licenses is in free fall thanks to diverse stock-photography platforms. Big newspaper companies increasingly bank on reader reporters instead of genuine photographers, while more and more musicians and bands prohibit taking pictures […]


  2. […] one or the other of you recalls when the Chicago Sun-Time released all its photographers and decided to fully rely on reader reporters and freelance photographers? Now there’s news. As […]


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