FOUR ESSENTIAL SKILLS PHOTOJOURNALISTS NEED TO TELL A GREAT STORY
This week we’re delving into the research and prep that’s vital for every brilliant photo story
With photojournalism month in full swing here at the blog, allow us to assume for a second that you’re reasonably on top of how your camera works. Getting a well composed, sharp frame is no problem for you, and you’ve made good progress when it comes to processing and exporting your finished images.
Problem is, that’s not all photojournalism is about. Crafting and telling a story is about more than simply managing technically good images. It’s about finding the right people and locations, and spending time connecting with your subjects. That in turn will help you produce images that connect with your audience.
Stuck for ideas on getting started? Allow us to see if we can get you underway.
Find Passionate People
Even if your story isn’t about people per se, you’ll still need people to help you tell it. Some will be keen to help a photojournalist; others less so. Think about who particularly needs – or wants – to have their story told. People tend to be passionate about the projects they give their time to, so anywhere staffed by volunteers a great place to start. Similarly, people committed to events that benefit a particular community may be willing to share their work with a wider audience.
Once you’ve found the perfect contact, you’ll need to start building a relationship. Be prepared to talk frankly about the kind of images you want to get, and where you might share them later. This is particularly important if you’re working with a volunteer organisation. They’ll want to know what they can expect to get in return for giving you access – and the chance to improve your portfolio.
Be Prepared by Creating a Storyboard
Found a cause to champion? So what kind of images will you need to tell it right? For photojournalism projects the answer is often simple. If you’re telling a story about a place or people, you need naturalistic frames of exactly that.
But starting with a storyboard can help you pin down what equipment you’ll need. A wildlife story might call for a longer lens, while working on a piece about a community garden might call for a wide-angle. You may also need equipment for shooting portraits, such as a fast telephoto and perhaps some off-camera lighting.
Key to producing a good reportage shoot is knowing your equipment and being prepared – you don’t want to miss a great moment because you couldn’t get your lights set up in time
Have a Contingency Plan
The best laid plans… Sooner or later a shoot is going to fall through, or you don’t have as much time as expected, or the weather won’t play ball. If you’re working solo, this is simply a personal failure (and great photographers have almost nothing but) so it’s nothing to worry about.
But if you’ve enlisted the help of others, you’ll need to produce decent images even if things aren’t going your way. So it pays to have another option if the hero image you’ve had in mind just isn’t going to happen.
If you’re absolutely relying on a particular shot, play it safe by having a couple of shoots set up on different days, giving you’re the best chance of success.