number of photographs is the scope of the story. For
example, the story of a Navy base will require more
photographs than a story about one person attached to
that base.
After the film has been exposed, processed, and
contact prints made, the next step is to begin writing
the text and cutlines. Review your notes carefully.
Look for quotes or other information that can be used
as a lead. Check all statements and facts. Remember
to double-check the spelling of names. Your first
attempt at writing a story should be considered a
rough draft only. This is the time to correct mistakes
and to verify that you have complete and accurate
information. Above all, remember that the text must
support the photographs. When the text is written,
writing the cutlines is a rather simple matter. Do not
repeat what you have already stated in the text.
Cutlines in a picture story should not be confused
with captions for a single picture. Cutlines for a
picture story are very brief. Sometimes they consist
of no more than one word. The purpose of an cutline
is to bridge the gap between the text and the pictures
(fig. 1-5).
A picture essay, unlike a picture story, does not
have to follow a logical order, have continuity, or be
objective. A picture essay allows a photojournalist to
present a subject from a personal point of view, For
example, how does the flight deck of an aircraft
carrier affect you emotionally? Does the vast size of
it overwhelm you? If so, you may photograph it
abstractly with a fisheye or extremely wide-angle lens
to emphasize this feeling. Similarly, you may be
aroused by the hard and dangerous work on a flight
deck, and your approach to the story may be from this
A picture essay differs from a picture story. In the
picture essay, it is the photographer's viewpoint on a
given subject that is important. A picture essay is
interpretive, not factual. It is an organization of
pictures around a central theme; it does not have a
plot, and it does not have a well-defined beginning,
middle, or ending. It is not objective; the requirement
for a photographer to remain unbiased and factual is
eliminated from the coverage. It is actually through
the photographer's point of view that the reader sees
the subject.
To create a picture essay, you must organize
several pictures on a single theme to give a deeper,
fuller, more rounded, more intense view of the subject
than a single picture could. It does not matter what
method you use to bind the photographs to the theme.
This is the point where your creative talents can be
used to explore people, events, and nature.
As with any photo assignment, research is
necessary. It is through research that you will decide
just how subjective you can be. Will a broad
interpretation say the same thing as a tightly knit,
artistic portrayal? What should be the main
technique? Is more than one subjective approach
required? Here again, you must research your subject,
and then plan your shooting and portrayal of the
Because a picture essay is subjective, you may
choose to use subjective photographs to make your
point. Subjective photographs, as a rule, show the
subjects in a form that makes them more interesting
and stimulating than usual. This is because they
present the subject in a new light. Refer to figure 1-6,
located at the end of this chapter, for an example of a
picture essay.
You can use various pictorial interpretation
techniques to produce different interpretations of an
event. A few that you may want to consider are as
1. MULTIPLE IMAGES. There are occasions
when a single image is not adequate for showing an
imaginative theme, mixed mental impressions of the
busy world of today, or combinations of a certain
background with the framing of the foreground. The
technique of sandwiching two or more negatives
together, double printing, double exposures, and
montages is used to this creative end.
2. INFRARED. Black-and-white infrared film
can transform the landscape from a dull photograph to
an image of beauty. The amount of infrared radiation
absorbed or reflected by the subject renders the
subject in unnatural tones (foliage and grass appear
lighter than normal because they strongly reflect
infrared radiation).
3. MOTION. In still pictures, motion suggests
action. Motion can be suggested by using a
slow-shutter speed or by panning with the subject. The

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