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!