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Showing posts from May, 2010

Why we need more creative photojournalism

To tell a story visually is difficult as any picture editor knows. You have to grab attention, communicate the essence of the story in an image and engage people so they follow through and read the article. There's the old saying that a 'picture is worth a thousand words' and it keeps being used because it's true. Getting people to pay attention relies on three elements working together - picture, caption and headline. Two of the three most important elements relate directly to photography. Pictures sell magazines, newspapers and website content. Unfortunately editorial departments are under siege, often drained of human resources, budgets and under increasing pressure to take the 'safe' creative option as editors fight to keep the wolf from the door. There are many exceptions and numerous editors who will take risks and put their necks on the line to support good photography – thank goodness. Most editors are just trying to maintain the status quo. This is n

How do you measure success as a photographer?

What signs should you follow? If you upload pictures on social media websites you will know there is usually  some form of audience judgement of your success as a photographer. How good you are is supposedly measured in votes, clicks, awards, views, badges... This is a good strategy for website owners because everyone likes a pat on the back and so visitors keep coming back to their website for the rewards and little treats. As they say in website terminology it makes the site more 'sticky' and more visitors equals a bigger audience share and more revenue. Photographers fall into the trap of trying to please broad website audiences and they let this cyber-gang steer and even rule their creativity. Do you really want to let people who breeze past your image barely giving it a glance or pausing to comment, vote or paste a badge determine the direction of your creativity and influence your vision as a photographer? Most visitors are hoping you'll return the favour

Whose opinion about your photography really counts?

Every photographer wants to improve. But how do we know we are getting better? Besides looking critically at our own work we listen to the opinions of others. Allowing other people to judge your work is essential. But you have to be cautious about who's opinion you value. It is human nature to give a negative opinion more weight than praise. The bad comments tend to stick in your mind. So be careful of giving the following people the power to influence your art: There are plenty of great photography teachers that just love sharing their knowledge and are very good educators but there are also some who teach photography but may harbour regrets and be a little bitter about not making it to the top. You have to spot the difference. You'll know the ones to avoid because no matter what you do they will always seek the minor faults and flaws and you will never be able to please them. People who knit pick on small things but don't really help you develop your vision. Someone who m

Fleeting expressions and picking the moment

Taking a photograph that tells a story requires patience, knowing what you want to say and then picking the right moment. I noticed this lady selling jewelry on the market. She was chatting to customers and showing them her merchandise but nobody bought anything. She was aware of me taking pictures and didn't mind. I kept an eye on her and picked the moment that I thought told the story of her day on the market. There are still many businesses struggling with the recession and people have certainly tightened up their budgets, even on items like market jewelry. I decided to upload this image to illustrate how waiting patiently and picking the right moment can produce an image that communicates the story. A few seconds later her expression changed and the brave sales face was back on again. Sometimes photographers take a lot of images in the hope of getting one good one. Seems too hit and miss to me. The real key to getting that good image is figuring out what needs to happen in fron