Photojournalism is not just taking pictures; it’s telling the news through photographs. Like reporters, photojournalists, or news photographers, must have a nose for news. They must also have the skill to show news, accurately and objectively, through photographs.
The ways photos are used vary: Some stand alone as a story with a cutline and others are part of a photo essay. Most photographs, however, accompany stories, so they must coordinate well with those stories. To accomplish this, you’ll need to be prepared – not only for spontaneous photo opportunities but for more formally arranged photo sessions, or shoots .
First, you need to understand why photographs are used.
A photograph can communicate general information very quickly. For example, a photo of a student sweeping up after a dance tells readers this is one of the chores that have to be done after a dance. The cutline provides specific information. It identifies the student and may explain that the chore falls to members of the dance committee.
Photographs are visual magnets, drawing readers into a page or a story. For this reason photos often serve as entry points. Part of a photograph’s visual appeal is the variety it adds to a layout. The contrast between a photo and copy is exciting and eye catching. That’s why a photograph is usually the dominant element on a page or spread.
Many camera include a circle in the center of the view finder that serves as a focusing tool. It’s not a target for positioning subjects! Subjects placed smack in the middle of a frame create a static, boring photograph. By following the rule of thirds, you can avoid this humdrum visual arrangement.
As you look through your view finder, divide the frame by thirds horizontally and vertically to form a grid--like a tic-tac-toe board. Place your main subject on one of the intersecting points of the grid. Other subjects may be placed diagonally opposite to create dynamic tension. Horizontal lines should be along the top or bottom line of the grid.
no matter how you get, watch the background. It may add to a photo. In that case, play it up. But if it’s destructing, move yourself or your subject to minimize destruction. Another option is to adjust your depth of field so the background is out of focus.
Pay attention to the foreground too. Remove distracting objects if possible. Use the foreground to your advantage when you can. An overhanging branch or another object in the corner can create a subtle framing device. It also adds depth.
Always take more than one photograph of each scene. This gives you options. One shot may serve better than another.
Take the same photo from different angles--from above, below, to the side, and so on. Be mindful of how angles affect the overall image. Photos taken from above make a subject appear smaller. Photos taken from below make a subject appear larger.
People can’t resist following lines wherever they go. Use lines within your composition to lead viewers to important subjects in the scene. Lines may be formed by walls, telephone lines, roads, fences, and even shadows.
Horizontal lines are restful, whereas vertical lines imply action. Diagonal lines are the most exciting and powerful.