Point-and-shoot cameras

If you have a point-and-shoot camera, and it’s all you can afford, we’ll make it work. The fact is, newspaper and television news rooms are often handing reporters point-and-shoot cameras and cheap camcorders and expecting them to come back from assignments with publishable photographs and videos. It’s just a fact of life in the news biz.

These simple cameras are not the ideal tool to produce meaningful photojournalism, but it’s not an excuse for not learning the basics. You just have to learn to work with their limitations.

One of the primary goals for this course is to move beyond the snapshot mentality. However, point-and-shoot cameras are made primarily for taking snapshots, especially at the default settings right out of the box. So if you choose to use a point-and-shoot camera, you’re going to have to delve into your cameras menus and the manual to learn how to override some of the default settings. Everything is set to automatic. For this class, however, you will need to learn how to control your camera. Snapshots are easy. Advanced photography is all about control – controlling what you see in the frame. Controlling when you press the shutter release. Controlling the settings on your camera for the desired results.

At the very minimum, you will need to know:

  1. How to turn off the flash, and keep it off
  2. How to set the image quality to its highest setting.
  3. How to set the ISO speed

I wrote a blog post a while back for Statesboro Herald readers, giving them some tips on how to shoot candid photographs with a point-and-shoot camera. Since we will primarily be doing candid photography for this course, please take the time to read this and let me know if you have any questions:

Tips for shooting candids with a point-and-shoot camera

With an understanding of the limitations that a point-and-shoot camera may present, you can still make good, story-telling images. The rules of composition don’t change based on the camera you use. Choose good light for your assignments. Get a feel for the amount of shutter lag your camera might exhibit so you can anticipate moments. Be patient. Experiment. And shoot lots of pictures. You might have to shoot 100 pictures to get one good image. Sometimes, that’s what it takes.

So don’t worry if a point-and-shoot camera is your only option at this time. I’ll work with you. Technical quality is important, but the content of your images is more important. There is an approach and a process to creating photographs that communicate something meaningful – learning that process is the primary goal.

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2 Responses to Point-and-shoot cameras

  1. Pingback: Which camera? | Journalism 3333: Photojournalism

  2. Pingback: Spring 2015: Here we go! | Journalism 3333: Photojournalism

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