Importance of photographies

Posted: 3 November, 2011 in Multimedia Reporting

Photographs add value to your audio, they can tell a different story, expressing emotion, for example, or just complete the audio. Here come some tips:

  • It’s important to break away from the pack when reporting. When taking photos from the Pope, it is also interesting to shoot the people that have come there to see him.
  • One picture can tell different stories at the same time: what is happening, how are people feeling, where and when did that take place, how was the atmosphere and weather like, etc.

What kind of picture do we need for our story?

  • Snapshot: quick snap picture.
  • Environmental portrait: tells something about the person, the environment, the atmosphere.
  • Mugshot: “tight is right”, specially if the picture is going to appear in a newspaper (the background is not important then). Its function is just to show how a person looks like.
  • Detail shot: come close to the subject, they add an incredible amount of information to our story. In a story, there should be at least 20 per cent of detail shots.

However, take into account that you can always crop the picture, so it is smart to take a picture that can be used in different ways.


  • Center of interest: when a person looks at a picture, he has to immediately know what it is about.
  • Rule of Thirds: If you divide a picture in thirds (9 cells), the worst place to have your center of interest is in the middle. The best places are the intersections of the lines. The secondary spot should also be on some intersection.
  • Angle: when taking shots of a child, the angle should be lower.
  • Balance: the picture should not be too heavy on one side (for example, the right full of persons and the left empty).
  • Keep it clean: viewers should be able to see.
  • Framing: use elements to frame the center of interest, they’ll lead the look of the viewer.
  • Depth of field: it selectively determines what is in focus.
  • Context: it allows you to tell better stories.
  • Leading lines: they guide the viewer into the center of interest. For example, rail roads.

Photographing techniques

  • Timing: take the perfect photo in the perfect moment. Maybe you’ll have to take 30 pictures to take the shot you wanted.
  • Movement: sometimes you want to have stop action, sometimes you don’t. Play with the exposure time and use a tripod if necessary (or find something to set your camera on).
  • Action: tell the story with something happening in the picture.
  • Reaction: gives a feeling of something happening, like the reaction of a man in front of his destroyed house.
  • Interaction: between people or subjects.
  • Lighting: you have to be aware of the light.
    • Don’t shoot somebody with a window or the sun behind them. Either the whole face is lighted or not.
    • Tell the persons where to stand so that the photography is good.
    •  Open shade is the best type of picture: the sun not hitting the person directly in the face. However, if there’s light, be aware of how the sun is hitting their face.
    • All different lights have different colors. The light of the flash is white, while the lights of the place can be yellow or blue.
    • White balance: usually you use Automatic WB. If there are different lights mixing, you have to choose one as the dominant light.
    • Red eyes: to avoid it, switch on all the lights in the room you can, put the flash in a different spot that your camera (hold it in your hand), put a handkerchief in front of the flash to make it diffuser. Chimping (taking a look at the picture you just shot) is of great help. Take a lot of pictures to be sure that at least one is going to be good: eyes are what people rely to, so you don’t want to have closed, red eyes or reflections on glasses.

But remember, rules are there to be broken. And people learn from your mistakes, even you learn from them.

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