When I was younger, I walked into the Columbus, Ohio, Associated Press office inquiring about a job in photography. The manager asked me the same question he asked all the other young hopefuls who showed up every day looking for a job: “How many photographers do you think I have here in this city?” I’ve forgotten what I said, but not what he said. He told me, “I only have two. In the entire state!”
Any good newspaper needs photos — and we can’t rely on The Associated Press — they tend to ignore the people’s movements and struggles that we cover. We also don’t have enough staff to photograph everything.
And that is where you and your camera come in.
When something takes place in your neck of the woods, take your camera along.
Here are some pointers:
• Crowd shots: While showing crowd size is important, we also want close-up photos of families, organizations and individuals. We want to show humanity.
• Sometimes, when taking pictures, we are standard and repetitive in our approach. When workers are on strike, we take numerous photos of the picket line, trying to get it all in. But when it comes to a strike or demonstrations, there are many possibilities for good, strong photos. What about a close up of parents with their kid, or a picture — and a quote — of someone who refuses to cross a picket line? Pictures can be taken of people preparing or passing out signs, setting up the picket line, talking with the public, etc. The best picture may not even be on the picket line.
• When photographing children, it can help to get close to them and down to their level. Otherwise we are looking down on them in the final print.
• We publish in Spanish and English — photos with signs in Spanish are just as needed as photos with English signs.
• The photo editor needs a variety of pictures to choose from, so take a number of shots.
• Photograph subjects from different locations when possible, taking vertical and horizontal shots from both sides and front. Most photos are taken as horizontals because that’s the way we hold our cameras. Don’t forget the verticals. When we are taking pictures we have no way of knowing in advance if the page layout will call for a vertical or horizontal picture or what side of the page it will be going on. If all the pictures of a march show the people walking to the left, and the picture has to go on the left side of the page, then we have a picture showing the people marching off the page.
And if you see the PWW being passed out or someone reading an issue, be sure to get a picture!
Your photo can wind up in the People’s Weekly World.