What is photojournalism?
To simplify a little, photojournalism is the act of telling a story through a series of images. The strict definition doesn't include video, and usually follows strict guidelines on impartiality, to keep journalistic credibility intact.
Okay, so photojournalism isn't really a 'trend' (or if it is, it's an extremely longterm one), nor is it a specific technique. However, there are trends in photojournalism, and there's definitely elements of technique to it!
Asides from this, it is one of the most socially and politically powerful uses of a camera. That old cliche says a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think a really good picture is worth many thousand words. And you can do a lot with words.
Take an international crisis for example. It's one thing to hear the words 'food crisis' on the news, but quite another to see images of starved, spookily gaunt children, begging for food. A good photojournalist can use his or her camera to share a hugely important message, and change the world.
Changing the world?
We can all be photojournalists, it's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and having at least the most basic means to capture what you want to share.
I'm not a photojournalist by trade, but the idea of citizen journalism says that all of us have a duty to share news and important information. This is easy these days as most of us are socially networked, conscious individuals, often carrying camera phones. Think of the dramatic footage and images taken from the 2011 Riots (some of which I've provided), most of which was captured up close and personal by people with camera phones.
So you can see that the good thing is that you don't necessarily need a very expensive camera for many kinds of photojournalism. A simple camera will do unless you require extreme zoom (perhaps the event is far away?), or a light sensitive lens (the event is happening in a very dark place?)
Equipment you need
- Some sort of photographic device. That could be a basic camera phone or an expensive SLR.
- That's it.
How to get started
- "Eighty percent of success is showing up." - Woody Allen. So find a newsworthy event and be there with a camera.
- How to find a newsworthy event? Easy - decide what kind of event you'd like to cover. Check information outlets for upcoming events and then make travel plans accordingly
- Bring something photographic wherever you go. You never know when you might find yourself in the middle of a story.
- So, expect the unexpected - it's often best to have your camera on and your lens cap off, as sometimes things can happen so fast that you'll miss it if you have to prepare to shoot.
- For most events (especially those that unfold quickly) you'll want to take as many images as possible. This means short exposure times, shooting first, and asking questions later
- Places where stories can be found can be dangerous - an element of danger is often what makes a story compelling. Just ask a war correspondent! You are encouraged to go all out for the best images, but remember your personal safety above all things!
- Because you can't take photos if you are injured, or worse.
- This also means not breaking the law.
- And speaking of law, be aware specifically of UK privacy laws when shooting people in public.
- Sometimes you'll get better results from less conspicuous photographic equipment, especially if the environment is particularly dangerous.
- Bring a spare battery and memory card. The last thing you need is to have to leave the site of an unfolding story.
- When processing your photos in an image editor one of the main things to aim for is clarity. In the same way that in telling a story you'd try to write as clearly as possible, the same is to be said for how you treat your images.
- In the images I've shown here, I used black and white post production (personal taste), but if I were to try and sell them to a news outlet I wouldn't have changed the colours.