[ No headline ]

IT was Pablo Picasso who said: "Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth."

As you peruse the following pages, consider that you hold mere paper in your hand, paper with well-ordered splotches of color on it composed and selected by Monitor photographers. Technologically speaking, these pictures are all two-dimensional "lies," but they contain elements

of art, truth, and order that our eyes are conditioned to accept as "real."

This conceptual question of what is or is not real is hardly a pressing daily problem for Monitor photographers Melanie Stetson Freeman, Robert Harbison, R. Norman Matheny, and Neal Menschel (who recently left the Monitor to pursue a teaching career). At year's end, they offer these photos from their travels as some of their best - not as challenges to concepts, but to make the spirit of the times visible through events and people.

What separates professional photojournalists from amateurs is their quickness in knowing what to shoot, their mastery of complex equipment, and their individual vision. If all photography is instant photography, here are some wonderful "instants" that Monitor photojournalists see as worthy, moving, informative.

The technology behind the images of photojournalism is developing rapidly in the computer age. It may be that such "old-fashioned" photography - someone with a 35-mm camera loaded with light-sensitive film - will edge into quaintness. Digital imagery - cameras without conventional film - is increasingly being used, although it remains expensive. Mr. Harbison expects film to be used less and less in coming years, though for now, "the technology and storage are not perfected for all uses."

Yet if digital imagery becomes commonplace, photojournalists will applaud the resulting lightness of their camera bags. For some assignments, 40 to 60 pounds of equipment are not unusual - even before adding the dozens of rolls of film.


(PAGE ONE) A Gallery of Images From Near and Far

In Hanoi, Vietnam, a woman fans charcoal for a morning meal. Behind her, another woman in Western-style clothes waits for a bus. This and other photos gathered from the travels of Monitor photographers are the year's best., ROBERT HARBISON - STAFF

A DOLE STROLL: Back home in Russell, Kan., (pop. 4,700) last April, Sen. Bob Dole (R) and his wife, Elizabeth, stroll along a main street. Senator Dole had not announced his run for the presidency when this was taken, but it was probably the worst-kept secret in Russell. Photographer Melanie Stetson Freeman lined up the photo to capture the Doles, the tower, and the campaign poster in the window. 'A gift to the photographer,' she says of the convergence., MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN - STAFF

EARLY CAMPAIGN TRACK: On a walking tour through New Hampshire last August, presidential hopeful Lamar Alexander pauses to chat with a potential voter, Debby Freeman, and her shy youngster, Angela. Photographer Robert Harbison found Alexander to be 'a swift walker with a long stride.' After 10 miles of struggling to keep up with him, Mr. Harbison felt that the weight of his 20-pound camera bag had increased to at least 30 pounds., ROBERT HARBISON - STAFF

WATCH THAT LAST STEP: On the island of Sipadan, off the coast of Borneo in the Western Pacific, these wooden steps are used by scuba divers loaded with gear to step into boats. Photographer Melanie Stetson Freeman says the diving here is close to the best in the world. A reef circles the sunny island, making it a sanctuary for rare sea turtles, small sharks, barracudas, appreciative divers, and a teeming rainbow of fishes. But in May it took Ms. Freeman six flights and 40 hours to get from Boston to this divers' paradise., MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN - STAFF

B-B-B-BONE J-J-J-JARRING: Heading down a mountain not chosen for smoothness, a speeding biker becomes a blur in the lens of Neal Menschel's camera. Here at Mt. Snow, in West Dover, Vt., in June, hundreds of mountain-bikers gathered for a weekend of World Cup races. Mr. Menschel, a former motorcycle racer, wanted to capture the sense of the bikers' headlong speed. Mountain-bike racing has become so popular that it will be an Olympic sport in the 1996 games in Atlanta., NEAL MENSCHEL

INDIANA JONES WAS HERE: Petra, a city carved into ridges of rose-colored sandstone in the 3rd century, lies some 150 miles south of Amman in Jordan. It was the ancient capital of the Nabateans. When Melanie Stetson Freeman visited here on a chilly day in February with Middle East correspondent John Battersby, the man with the horse gave rides into and out of the canyon site. Israelis by the thousands are visiting the city, lured by the newly peaceable relations with Jordan following the 1994 peace accord. Above is the treasury building, where some of the final scenes of the 1989 movie 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' were filmed., MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN - STAFF

WINGED WORKHORSE: A restored B-17, the durable American bomber of World War II, thunders over Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., in June. Monitor photographer R. Norman Matheny, flying in a B-24 for this photo, chose not to donate $5,000 to the plane's restoration effort, though that would have given him lifetime flying privileges from the Collings Foundation in Stowe, Mass. But the pilot, Maj. Carl Clark, (ret.), let him aboard anyway., R. NORMAN MATHENY - STAFF

MAY THE PIZZA BE WITH YOU: In Gary, Ind., policemen take a pizza break in a neighborhood cafe. When Melanie Stetson Freeman and writer Kurt Shillinger visited the city in April, it was widely known to have the highest murder rate in the country. Working within the constraints of a bare-bones budget, police often have to buy their own weapons and bulletproof vests. Ironically, Ms. Freeman said the people she met were very helpful, and the 'small town environment' she experienced there was hard to reconcile with the city's reputation., MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN - STAFF

CUTE, BUT A BIG EATER: Meet Babette, who sports a red identification mark on her head, at the Ocean Sciences Centre in St. Johns, Newfoundland. The fishing industry contends that Babette and 4.8 million other harp seals are devouring Atlantic cod and help endanger the fishing industry. Harbison says the Centre was testing seals in September to determine how much cod is part of a seal's diet., ROBERT HARBISON - STAFF

SPLIT BY WOOD: A mother and her children protest old-growth logging in Carlotta, Calif., in September by the Pacific Lumber Company. Photographer Melanie Stetson Freeman says the mother was arrested along with dozens of other protesters. Mill owners say that only dead and diseased trees in the world's largest private stand of old-growth redwoods are taken down., MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN - STAFF

RENDERING HOT SAUCE: In photographing food, Melanie Stetson Freeman looks for intriguing backgrounds and ambiance to 'catch the eye of the reader.' In this case, for a food article on the fiery growth of hot-sauce sales, irresistible red chili peppers were nestled in a cactus to create that Southwestern 'look.', MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN - STAFF

BAREFOOT OCTOGENARIAN: Indefatigable 'Banana' George Blair zooms along at 40 m.p.h. sans shoes or skis in Winterhaven, Fla., in March. Blair took up skiing after an injury and has skied for fun on every continent, debunking the idea that people over 80 should watch from the shore. Photographer R. Norman Matheny says, 'Blair loves the color yellow, bananas, and has a house full of trophies.', R. NORMAN MATHENY - STAFF

FATHER'S LITTLE FILIBUSTER: Not wanting to be an absentee parent or miss those memorable gurgles and burps, Utah Rep. William Orton (D) often brings his son, Will, to the office. 'People fight over who gets to take care of him when the congressman has to vote,' says Melanie Stetson Freeman of her June visit., MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN - STAFF

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.