Covering the news: materials from class on 3 /22

I will post the particulars of your “Events” assignment shortly, but for now, please review the content of yesterday’s presentation before you head out to cover an event.

We’ve spent our time developing fundamental basics and practicing them up to this point, but now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of photojournalism and daily visual news coverage.

First, here is the handout that accompanies yesterday’s presentation. At first glance, it appears to simply reiterate the class presentation, but please take a few moments to read it.  This handout probably articulates some of these concepts a little more thoroughly. It might be helpful to read through the handout to put yourself in the right frame of mind before you shoot your Events assignment:

Covering the news: How to approach news assignments visually

And here is the PDF version of the class presentation (with presenter’s notes, as usual), in case you want to review it. If you were not in class Wednesday or had to leave early, make sure you view the full presentation so you can see examples of the concepts we explored and better understand the assignment!

Presentation: Covering the News

So, review the lesson, then go forth and cover a news event!

Again, assignment particulars to come …


Forget Good. Make your photos interesting!

Photographs aren’t simply pretty decorations that break up blocks of text on a page, printed or digital. Photography is an important medium for helping our audience understand and appreciate the world around them. Content matters!

The first half of the semester has been primarily dedicated to learning control: controlling how your images look by understanding your gear, learning basic composition, and recognizing the various properties of light. The second half of this semester will be dedicated to exploring the types of photographic assignments that are typical in the news business.

Gear, composition, and light are all tools to help you tell stories through your photographs. Now we concentrate on the storytelling part!

This material won’t be on your midterm exam, but you need to view this handout if you want to be successful in this class for the rest of the semester. It expands on our class presentation/discussion about generating photo assignments:

Forget Good. Make your photos interesting –Generating and executing newsworthy photo assignments

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson said,

“If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff!”

He was trying to be funny and flippant, but he speaks the absolute truth!

How we approach photo assignments, in the context of reporting the news, can make a  difference in whether or not the news media plays a vital role in sustaining Democracy and self-rule. We need to start making photographs that cut through the Imagesphere.

If you want to be successful in the communications business, you have to be a producer of content, not someone who waits around for assignments before beginning to work.

I will start noting who is producing pictures in their typical daily interactions just to complete assignments at the last minute, and who might be actually exploring people and issues and events that might be of interest to the general public. Obviously, we should be doing the latter.

Photojournalism is about enlightening others about people, events and issues in our communities – wherever we are. If you don’t care about your community, neither will your audience. The content of your photographs, and the effort to produce something actually newsworthy will reflect in the grades of your assignments – from here, on out.

So you need to understand the standards of “newsworthiness” in visual journalism. I’ve expressed these standards – in two simple questions – while discussing ethics and in the context of generating newsworthy photographic assignmentsLearn them! Know them, and apply those standards when you are shooting your assignments and when you are selecting images for publication on the class website.

Again, simple, informational pictures of people doing “stuff” are not sufficient. Start learning how to produce pictures that enlighten and educate and connect with your audience – ya know, the public!. Review these discussions about how to evaluate photographs, and incorporate them into your shooting practice.

Like I said, you need to move beyond shooting pictures of your everyday experience – whether that’s pictures of relatives, or friends, or roommates. It’s time to start visually exploring your community – again, that means events, issues, or people. You not only have to visually verify these things, but place them in their proper context with AP Style captions.

So keep this in mind the rest of them semester.

Bring something to take notes with!

Review the Nouns/Verbs assignment so you remember what to bring to class Wednesday.

First, we are going to learn the basics of creating an image workflow with Adobe Lightroom.

Creating images in the camera is only part of the task for a professional photojournalist. What happens to the images after capture is every bit as important. Simply dragging image files from your camera’s card into a folder on your computer to download them isn’t sufficient.

Creating a consistent workflow will enable you to efficiently deliver and publish images in a variety of ways and ensure that vital information is always embedded into the image files for future searches and archiving.

Please bring something to take notes with to class. Just so you know, I have a handout that I will distribute after the lesson, but you will better learn the steps if you first take notes as we go through the steps.

Taking notes is also important because we will move at a fairly brisk pace. After we process our Nouns/Verbs images and upload them to your Google Drive folders, we will learn about lenses, perspectives, controlling depth-of-field,  and writing captions. Then we get our next shooting assignment!

Follow-up on Class – 1/18

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 Imagesphere” 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. I shared his memo in class. Here is some follow up:

Joe Elbert’s Hierarchy

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

Presentation: The Power of Photography

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



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