Submitting Photos to People’s World: Basic Guidelines

This guide was prepared by People’s World staff member Al Neal. Please contact him for further information and answers to your questions about photography and check out his photo portfolio.

THE BASICS

Guidelines for good photographs:

1. A clear subject or theme: Every image should tell a story or convey emotion.

2. Focused attention on the subject: person, place, event, or thing. The viewer’s eyes should be drawn directly to the focal point—the emphasis of the photo. If photographing a conference or rally, pay attention to people on stage; don’t end up with a picture dominated by the backs of people’s heads.

3. Simplify: Avoid all distractions in the photo. Only include the elements that draw the eyes to the visual story you’re telling.

4. Get close: If you think you are close enough to your subject, you need to get closer.

5. Avoid cutting off joints (ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders, etc.)

 

Photography Composition Tips:

1. Take notice of your surroundings. What are people doing? How’s the flow of traffic? What sounds draw your eyes?

2. Change your viewpoint: Squat on the ground, climb up on a staircase, look at the subject from an angle. Think about what story you’re trying to tell and how changing the photograph’s perspective will help tell it.

3. Rule of Thirds: Divide the image evenly into thirds, horizontally and vertically, and place your subject at the intersection of those dividing lines. (SEE BELOW: place subjects in the red areas). Studies have shown people’s eyes are drawn to the points of intersection.

4. Center placement of subject: Centering the subject is advisable if the subject is surrounded by radial lines. Centered placement is effective when the subject is in the middle of two diagonals that make an X or a V. And if you have a single subject that fills the frame, centered placement can work just fine. In the example below, notice the radial lines (wood planks from behind the subject) and how the subject fills the frame.

5. Watch the background: Avoid distracting lights or bright areas (focus will be on that not your subject). Leave space for the eyes to move about the image, and avoid empty space or unnecessary floating objects

6. Stay in focus: Avoid camera shake by using both hands to hold your camera. Use a tripod if possible. If you’re using your camera’s autofocus feature, make sure you check that it’s focused on the correct subject (autofocus doesn’t mean “don’t worry about focus”).

 

Editing and Cropping:

1. Do not manipulate the photo: Photojournalism must always be accurate and comprehensive in its documentation of subjects. When editing photos do not use filters, auto-contrast, or any form of distortion. You can use editing to sharpen your focal point, for cropping, and for basic touch ups, burning, and vignetting—like they used to do in a photography darkroom. Try to do all the work through the lens if possible, not in post-production.

2. Don’t crop too close: When the subject is touching or almost touching the borders of the picture, it’s visually uncomfortable. Similarly, don’t crop too loose, leaving unnecessary objects or empty space in the picture for the eye to wander over.

3. Look for distractions: A person’s arm cutting into the frame, a tree branch overhead, a light post or tree growing out of your subject’s head, etc..

 

Code of Conduct (National Press Photographers Assoc.):

1. Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.

2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.

3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.

4. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.

5. While photographing subjects, do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.

6. Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter the sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.

7. Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.

8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.

9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.

10. Do not engage in harassing behavior of colleagues, subordinates, or subjects and maintain the highest standards of behavior in all professional interactions.

 

 


CONTRIBUTOR

People’s World
People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.

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