the facts, then use it. When a long lens lets you close
the gap between you and the event and obtain facial
expressions and body gestures, then by all means use
it. Just remember, those ideas must add to and be a
faithful part of the event you covered.
In covering a spot-news assignment, your
responsibility is to provide photographs complete with
captions as rapidly as possible. This helps to ensure
that a release is made while the event is still news.
Plan ahead. Keep your deadline in mind. Work
rapidly but accurately. Your enemy is time. Arrange
your time so you do not overshoot the deadline. The
boss, editor, or public affairs officer (PAO) expects to
use that photo and caption the minute it is dried.
"Nothing is as dead as yesterdays news."
Each spot-news photograph should have the
following elements:
Newsworthiness and/or human interest value
Impact
Photographic quality
Accurate written information on the subject
matter
NEWSWORTHINESS AND/OR
HUMAN INTEREST VALUE
When a photograph does not have news or human
interest value, the chance of the photograph being
published is slim. Human interest value is almost
impossible to measure. The best indicator to
determine whether a photograph has human interest is
your own emotions. When the photograph affects
your emotions or arouses your curiosity, it most
probably will do the same for other people.
IMPACT
The emotional stopping power of a photograph is
"impact." Impact in a photograph should produce
some kind of emotional shock to the viewer. There
are no rules for consistently producing photographs
that have impact. To create impact, a photographer
should be sensitive toward the subject matter and be
able to feel the emotion that you intend to convey to
a viewer. The difference between photographs with
and without impact is usually determined by whether
the photographer reacted emotionally to the subject
matter or was indifferent and took the picture as just
another assignment. Most subject matter does not
have inherent impact. Therefore, you, as the
photojournalist, must often create it. Impact can be
created through cropping, recording peak action,
composition, contrasting subject matter, and other
photographic techniques.
PHOTOGRAPHIC QUALITY
The news photograph should tell a story and the
subject matter should be identifiable. This is not to
say that the image must always be sharp and without
grain. (This does not mean you can be careless in
your work.) These "imperfections" sometimes
enhance a photograph and, depending on the subject
matter, can provide impact. In news photography, you
may not have control over the position of the subject
matter, lighting, or even your own position. It is
possible that the action of an event may unfold so
rapidly that the only choice you have is to aim the
camera and shoot. Thus the only control you may
have is the instant that you take the exposure.
Although the ideal scene conditions may not exist,
your film may be the only record of an event. To
return from a news assignment without recording the
event because of undesirable scene conditions is gross
neglect of duty.
Whenever possible, fill the film format with the
subject matter. You can do this by either moving
farther from or closer to the scene or by using lenses
with different focal lengths. Vary the camera angles
and do not stand in one position using the same
focal-length lens to shoot an entire assignment.
For reproduction purposes in a newspaper or
magazine, a photograph should have normal contrast,
contain a good range of intermediate tones, and be
printed on a glossy-surface paper. When a photograph
has large shadows or highlight areas, image detail may
be lost in these areas when the photograph is repro-
duced.
Editors of publications think in terms of column
width for photograph size. Column width in a
newspaper is about 2 inches; therefore, when you
compose news photographs for publication, keep this
dimension in mind. A photograph should be
croppable so it fits into one or more full columns.
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