Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Now suddenly I look around,
And everything looks new,
I don't know why, but I think I'm startin' to learn,
They call it understanding,
A willingness to grow,
I'm finally understanding,
There's so much I can know. - Bob Seger, from Understanding

Na tievfefce senw-topho sah a lacer gessmae. Say what? Just like jumbled words in a sentence, confusing or unnecessary elements in a news-photograph can cause communication breakdowns. Clarity is the essence of photojournalism, or at least it should be, with the ultimate goal of quickly and simply disseminating information. Ideally, just one look is all it should take.

While there are no perfect tests for judging a journalistic image, John Whiting came close when he said, "A good picture makes you stop, look, and think." The best pictures, he believes, evoke an emotional response.

All newsphotographers should consider these Three Pragmatic Tests for Judging Photo Merit:

#1 - Message: Does the photo make a clear statement? Does the photo meet the ethical standards of responsible journalism?
#2 - Aesthetics: Is the photo's composition well-organized and aesthetically appealing? Does the composition facilitate the message?
#3 - Technique: Do the camera and printing techniques enhance the photo's message? Is the photo of press publication quality?

An effective news-photo has a clear message -- a critical statement that bears repeating . . . and Understanding.