Materials from Ethics lesson (2/19)

Here is a bullet-pointed synopsis of John Long’s video, along with some updated thoughts and suggestions:

Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography Study Guide

Also, please read and download the material about issues of “taste” in photographing and publishing potentially controversial photographs depicting death and tragedy:

Lessons in Humanity: The Ethics of Taste in Photojournalism

And lastly, as always, here is the PDF version of the presentation:

Photojournalism Ethics Presentation

NOTE: For those who missed class, make sure you scroll through the presentation and read my presenter’s notes. The associated videos are below.

These are important issues. Like I said in class, your generation will determine how photographs remain credible testimonies in the context of news. Know the issues and think about how to solve some of the problems we experience with credibility in visual journalism.

Expect to see some additional articles posted on the FB group to help you expand your understanding. Hopefully, we can generate further discussion about this.

As always, contact me if you have any questions.

Videos from presentation:

Photoshop CS5 Tutorial Content Aware Fill


Because of copyright restrictions, I cannot post James Nachtwey’s excerpt from “War Photographer.” But here is a link to the video posted on my Google Drive account:

Nachtwey’s Mission (Excerpt from “War Photographer”)



Assignment 2: Part 1 – the Mug Shot

DUE: Next Monday (2/12) in class


The head shot – or mug shot, as it is commonly referred to in the newsroom – is the most rudimentary type of photograph used in the news business. It is often used to identify a subject and/or to add a small graphic element to a story. As photo staffs are shrinking in newsrooms, every journalist should know how to shoot a competent mug shot. Shy? This will help you get over it. As journalists, we constantly have to approach strangers and talk to them. Here’s your chance to practice.

Also, continue to practice shooting in manual mode with back-button focus. Remember, you are in control!

Assignment criteria for credit:

Shoot mug shots of FIVE different people and gather their basic personal information. No more than 3 out of the 5 mugs can be students. For each person photographed, you should get the following information:

  • Any title or designation, including the institution (institution first THEN title, no separator)
  • Name (First and last name)
  • Age (separated by commas, after name)
  • Hometown (full-time residence, town/city, state)
  • Contact info (phone # and/or email address), wrapped in double asterisks

Example:  Georgia Southern University biology professor Jim Smith, 54, of Brooklet, Ga. **(**

Why the contact info? It’s good journalistic practice. If you have contact info for the people you photograph, writers or designers can contact your subjects for quotes or to verify facts. Do we always do it? No. But it’s a good habit to get into, especially when you are starting out. It’s always better to have more information than you can use, rather than not enough. Explain to your subjects that their contact information will not be published!

Also, as a student, teacher, and practicing journalist, I have known people to occasionally make up information for their own convenience. This is a major breach of ethics. Accuracy must be journalists’ continuing bond with their audience. There’s a chance I may randomly contact subjects to verify their information.

Next week, bring to class:

  • Your memory card, containing the pictures you shot
  • Your card reader (recommended)
  • Your storage device (your USB 3.0 jump drive or an external hard drive)
  • Your caption info/IDs. See below!!!

RECOMMENDATION! Type your IDs and save them in a text or Word document on your storage device before class. You will save time by copying and pasting them into your image files, rather than typing them all out during class.

You will receive 100 points for completing the assignment – on time.



Watch your background

Try to find a clean, non-distracting background, but don’t stand your subject up against it! Get some separation between the subject and the background. Watch out for “hot spots,” or areas of extreme brightness in your background. The light in the background shouldn’t be brighter than your subject’s face, if you can help it. Have your subject pivot and/or move your position until you have a clean background, if necessary. Wide apertures (small aperture values) are usually best to utilize a shallow depth-of-field and make your subjects stand out from the background.

Fill the Frame!

Shoot VERTICAL, as the head has a vertical orientation. Don’t shoot a picture with a tiny head centered in the frame. However, try to leave enough space above and below the head so your frame can be cropped into a square without cutting any of the head off. This is important because head shots are often cropped in different ways. They tend to be vertical in print, but square seems to be most common in web templates.







Stand back and zoom in

It’s better to shoot mug shots with lenses in the short telephoto range. If you shoot in the wide angle range and are too close, facial features will begin to distort. With some camera and lens combinations, longer focal lengths can also help clean up your background by dropping it out of focus. If you are using a kit lens, either your own or one of the university’s, stick to the longest focal length – 50 or 55mm.

Put your subject at ease.

Many people are uncomfortable being photographed, so it’s up to you to make them comfortable. Tell them to relax and be themselves, and shoot lots of pictures. Often, you’ll find that the more pictures you shoot, the more relaxed your subject becomes.

Wait for the moment

Yes, even mug shots can have moments. Be mindful of facial expressions. Even small changes can infer different meanings to readers. Try to capture different expressions (try not to coach too much), but make sure you have a shot with a neutral expression, because you never know what type of story that picture might be used with in the future. You don’t want to publish a mug shot of a smiling public official after they’ve been indicted for embezzlement or misconduct.

Did I mention, shoot lots of pictures?

Make sure you shoot test frames to check your exposure and camera settings. Tell your subject what your doing.  A couple of test frames might help them relax. Make adjustments if necessary.

Be methodical and don’t proceed until your test frames look acceptable. Once you get your exposure correct, then shoot away!

NOTE:  Be careful about letting your subjects view the results in your camera: some people will never be happy with the results. Those people often see this task as an opportunity for a personal portrait – your job is to capture their likeness for informational purposes – that’s it.

Follow-up on Classes 1 and 2

Here are some handouts to reinforce what we’ve discussed in the first two classes. You should downloads these and read through them. It’s up to you whether or not you want to print them out. These will be your study materials for exams and, hopefully, the handouts will lead to better discussions during class time in the future as we build a base of knowledge.

From class #1: Why are photographs the front porch of the news? How do we cut through the noise of all the photographs we are exposed to every day and create meaningful photographs in the context of news? What are the strengths and weakness of photographs as a medium for communication? What distinguishes professionals from amateurs?

Photographs: The front porch of the news

In class two, we examined the language of photography, it’s power to communicate, and began to create a new vocabulary for discussing photographs with Joe Elbert’s Hierarchy. Here is some follow up. First, here is a link to the actual memo that Joe Elbert shared at a photo editing workshop to help introduce his hierarchy for photo discussions. It’s well worth the time to read what one of the most successful photo editors in the biz has to say:

Joe Elbert’s Memo

Next is an expanded discussion of the Hierarchy.

Joe Elbert’s Hierarchy

Like I said, your mid-term exam and final exam will include this material, but don’t wait to cram. Read through them now! I want you to begin incorporating these concepts into your thought process. When you’re shooting assignments. When your editing assignments. When you’re discussing photos.

You don’t need to download the following document, but if you want to review the presentation and photos we looked at in class, here is a PDF version of the last presentation, including my presenter’s notes:

Presentation: The Power of Photography

Additionally, if you want to review some the videos from the past couple of classes, here they are:




As alway, contact me if you have any questions.


AP Style Captions

This is one of the most important topics we will cover this semester, and you will need to put this into practice from here on out. Expect to be tested on captions in addition to being graded on them with your shooting assignments.

Download the PDF with examples of real AP photos with captions so you can always have this with you:

AP Style Captions.PDF

You can also view the slides on captions from the presentation (you’ll have to scroll down for the captions section):

Creative Control/Captions presentation

In the news business, photo captions are a fundamental, professional requirement and are necessarily included with every photograph submitted for publication. The Associated Press style for caption writing assumes that each and any picture it moves on its wire service may be used by itself, not necessarily with a story, so each photograph is accompanied by complete information. Whenever possible, try to keep captions to no more than two concise sentences, while including the relevant information. Try to anticipate what information the reader will need.

The 5 Ws:

  1. Who – Captions must include the full name, age, and home town of any identifiable subjects included in the photo. Also, if there are multiple subjects, indicate their position within the image (left, right, center, etc.) so there is no confusion about who is who. Titles and/or designations are also included. Ex: Georgia Southern University journalism professor Charles Brown, 54, left, …
  2. What – Be concise and clear about any actions depicted in the photograph, but don’t simply state the obvious. For example, if people are talking – what are they talking about? If someone is running – are they exercising, escaping danger, playing, etc.
  3. Where – Be specific, such as “in Veazey Hall on the campus of Georgia Southern University,” but also mark the town or city and state. Use AP Style for state abbreviations. Ex: … in Veazey Hall on the campus of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga.
  4. When – Include the day of the week, month, day, and year the photograph was taken. Follow AP style for the date. Ex: on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009.
  5. Why – The first sentence of an AP style caption typically includes the first four Ws. Additional sentences – usually one sentence – can explain the “Why,” helping the reader understand the photo in its proper context by describing why the action, situation or content of the picture is important or interesting. It may include additional facts or statistics, either from the photographer’s own observations or from the accompanying story. Sometimes, the use of a subject’s quote may be appropriate. Ex: Brown is teaching the first multimedia course offered at the university in a program boasting record enrollment this year.


Style and form

First Sentence:

  • Active verbs – always use the active form of verbs. Ex:John Smith runs …” never “John Smith is running …”
  • Present tense – cutlines should always be written in the present tense, as if the moment depicted is happening right before the viewers’ eyes.

Past tense and passive verbs may be used in the contextual second sentence.

Signoff/Credit – Always at the end of a caption, in parentheses, the photographer includes a signoff – the photographer’s affiliation and name. Ex. (George-Anne photo/Jane Smith).

Use **CQ** after names that are not common spellings. Ex: Micheal **CQ** Jones learns audio editing software in a mulitmedia communications class …

Use double asterisks “**” before and after any information that is not meant for publication, such as CQ or contact information.

Note: AP captions are usually rewritten to fit a newspaper’s individual style and to avoid redundancy of information when multiple photographs of the same subject or event are published.

However, because one never knows how or when a photograph may be used, learning to write an AP style caption ensures that vital information and context always stay attached to the image file. Complete information is also extremely important for archiving and searching for photographs