Better photography NOW!


Look at the pile of student newspapers on the exchange tables at the next National College Media Convention. I predict that the No. 1 characteristic of the “bad” papers you see will be bad photography. This is especially sad because you don’t need to be an experienced photographer to make immediate improvements.

Disclosure: I came of age when a reporter (me) almost never was asked to take a photo. When it comes to recognizing bad photography, I identify with Justice Potter Stewart‘s famous description of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” But I’ve learned in recent years that student news organizations now have the advantage of novice-ready cameras and, more importantly, wonderful online resources to improve technique.

If you think your product could stand some photographic improvement, a few quick thoughts:

  • Don’t say, “Get a photo to go with that story.” That’s how you wind up with a long shot of 14 people around the conference table at the board of trustees meeting — again. Spend an extra minute or two talking about whether a good photo is “gettable” and how it might interest readers. If the photographer and reporter aren’t the same person, this requires more conversation.
  • Your mantra for non-expert photographers: Get closer! Shoot long, medium and close. But close means close.
  • Make photography important in your design. Don’t design a print page before you see the photos.
  • Pay attention to crops. Make every pixel count.

And don’t stop there. Look around online for news photography advice. Here’s a great start: University of Georgia photojournalism guru Mark E. Johnson‘s visual journalism blog. The content there includes Mark’s terrific series of how-to videos. Mark’s blog posts link to other great resources. Find what works for you. NOW!


About adviserdavid

Student media director, Georgia Southern University

Posted on July 27, 2012, in Leadership, Photography. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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