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Resources Guidelines for the student photojournalist (HTML) (PDF) Beginning Photoshop (PDF) Preparing images for the web (PDF) Photoshop guidelines (PDF) Photogalleries using PowerPoint Notes Photos you can use. Finding usable photographs -- that is, photos you have a right to use -- is an ongoing problem for people who run weblogs they would like to illustrate or news web sites that they want to keep visually up to date. Student news web sites in particular have this problem. For instance, as I write this, the big news of the day (Christmas Day, 2006) is that rock 'n roll legend James Brown has died. If I wanted to note that on my site and use his picture, that might once have presented an insurmountable problem.
No more, however.
Using photo posting sites such as Flickr and the idea of Creative Commons, small media sites that don't have the budget for wire or syndicated photos can have the illustrations they need to dress up their pages and present the kind of unique information that a photo can provide. More. (Posted Dec. 25, 2006) The iconic image. Few of us get to leave the impression that Joe Rosenthal did. Rosenthal was the 33-year-old Associated Press photographer who took the picture of Marines raising the flag during the fierce battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific in 1945. That image struck an instant chord with viewers, and it has been stuck in our consciousness ever since. It has been reproduced millions of times in many forums and is the basis for the giant Marine memorial that overlooks the nation's capital. Rosenthal was an excellent photographer during his entire career -- not just a guy with a camera at the right place and time. He died on Sunday at the age of 94. (Check out what the San Francisco Chronicle, the newspaper where he worked for many years, had to say about him; also take a look at the retrospective at Poynter.) (Posted Aug. 22, 2006)
Seeing and believing. This week's incidents of photo-doctoring of pictures from Lebanon that have been published by some news organizations have provoked a good deal of outrage and hand-wringing. So they should. Changing a photograph in a way that alters its meaning -- even if only incidentally -- is not a good thing for journalists or journalism. We have been reading about this sort of thing far too much these days, and unfortunately, we will probably continue to hear about such behavior. But in an article in Slate ("Don't Believe What You See in the Papers"), Jim Lewis has some valuable perspective on how we view photography. A photograph has power because we believe it; we think that if we had been standing beside the photographer when it was taken, we would have seen the same thing. That's not true, and Lewis does a good job of reminding us of that fact. Lewis also links to a "rogue's gallery" of digital manipulation put together by Dartmouth's Haney Farid that reminds us that this sort of thing happens on a regular basis. (Posted Aug. 11, 2006) Sometimes photos don't help. If you know what you are after online, images don't make much difference. That's the implication of some of the research on how users use the web that has been reported this week. Laura Ruel, writing for E-Media Tidbits, Poynter's weblog about online journalism, has several helpful reports about research presented by Neilson-Norman Group (Jakob Neilson). Users tend to look at images that are • Related to page content
• Clearly composed and appropriately cropped • Contain "approachable" people who are smiling, looking at the camera, not models • Show areas of personal/private anatomy (Men tended to fixate on these areas more than women -- really!) • Items a user may want to buy. (Posted June 25, 2006) Photogalleries without the learning curve. Those of us teaching courses in web journalism are likely to include a section about photogalleries, but getting students to produce a gallery is another matter. Setting up a gallery template takes a good bit of programming, and using one of the third-party freebies (Flickr, Yahoo photos, etc.) is not very satisfactory because you can't control the design of the gallery. One solution that relieves some of these difficulties is using the web function of PowerPoint. Students generally know how to set up a PowerPoint presentation. While designing in PowerPoint is clunky and difficult, converting a presentation to a web-ready set of files is a snap. Students (and you) can concentrate on the content of the gallery (picture quality, sequencing, cutlines, etc.) rather than on the intracacies of the gallery. Then you can easily display them on your course web site.
More (Posted Feb. 1, 2005) Photoshop handouts. One of the most important pieces of software in the journalism world these days is Photoshop. It is the premier photo editing tool, and no journalist or student of journalism -- whether working in print or on the web -- can do without it. JPROF.com offers three handouts that will help students get a quick start with Photoshop: Beginning Photoshop (PDF) Preparing images for the web (PDF) Photoshop guidelines (PDF) Photoshop is a deep program with many options and possibilities. Students can spend many hours learning its intracacies. These handouts will help you get them started. A simple rule. The rule is a simple one: Don't change a photograph. Since accuracy and truth and all that are so central to the practice of journalism, you'd think that journalists, of all people, would get it. But sometimes they don't, and when that happens, it's always a shock, particularly when it happens at a big time news organization such as Newsweek. More
Photos from the New York Public Library collection. Some 275,000 photographs are now available for viewing and downloading from the New York Public Library's web site. This gallery constitutes one of the largest collections of photographs anywhere -comparable to that of the Library of Congress. Most of the photos were taken before 1923, putting them in the public domain but decreasing their value to news organizations. Still, they constitute a valuable and fascinating historical record and could provide hours of online viewing pleasure and education. The library has made them available without permission for non-commercial use. If you are going to use them commercially, you need to obtain permission. (Posted March 3, 2005)
Telling the truth. Daniel Okrent, the public editor of the New York Times, has written an excellent piece based on the decision by Times editors to run a picture of a grieving mother among a number of dead babies killed by the Dec. 26 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The photo is graphic and difficult to look at. It is like many such photos that have burned themselves into our psyches. The surpassing power of pictures enables them to become the permanent markers of enormous events. The marines planting the flag at Iwo Jima, the South Vietnamese general shooting his captive at point-blank range, the young John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father's passing coffin: each is the universal symbol for a historical moment. You don't need to see them to see them.
But Okrent goes beyond the decision to run the photo to talk about pictures themselves. Under the provocative headline “No Picture Tells the Truth. The Best Do Better Than That,” Okrent discusses the fact that no picture captures the entire event of which it is part. A picture can tell part of the truth, but not the whole truth. Editors know that. Readers and viewers should recognize it, too. (Posted Jan. 10, 2005) Update: Okrent's column of Sunday, Jan. 16, is made up of letters from readers, many of which have reacted to his column and to the picture the Times published. (Posted Jan. 17, 2005) Guiding the student photojournalist. Those of us who have advised students publications or web sites know the type: the young man or woman who wants to take pictures. Often there is no one who joins the staff who is more enthusiastic or who expresses more willingness to go to work. The problem is that person has little or no experience. They've seen good pictures, but they don't know how to take them. The challenge for the instructor is to guide that young man or woman in the right direction. Here are some things you should do to help the student photojournalist get started and develop good habits. (HTML page) (PDF file) (Posted Jan. 31, 2005)
News photos you can use. If you are interested in having timely photos for your publication or web site -- but can't afford to subscribe to a professional news service -you can find them at a variety of sites. One is http://www.defenselink.mil/, which posts photos from many of the military's operations, including combat in Iraq. These photos can be downloaded in a high-resolution format, so they can be used for print publications. Not only can many of these photos be dramatic, such as they one shown here, they come with full cutline information. Because these photographs are produced by the military (an arm of the government), they are in the public domain and can be used without permission. Remember: You should never use a photograph, drawing or other illustration unless it is in the public domain or unless you have specific permission from the owner to do so. Posting an item on a web site does not put it in the public domain. Be very careful about this. (Posted Jan. 3, 2005)
Three shots. The three types of photos are based on how far away the photographer is from the subject: establishing shots, mid-range shots and close-ups. Students should know the differences among the three and should understand why each is important. The collage at the right shows an establishing shot at the top, a mid-range shot in the middle, and a close-up at the bottom. The hardest shots to take for most students are the closeups. Beginning photographers often feel self-conscious about what they are doing and believe they will irritate their subjects if they get to close. They should work to overcome those feelings.
Cutlines. Cutlines are sometimes hard to construct, but they are very important. Photographers do not always have to write the cutlines for their pictures (although they
should do so whenever they get the chance). They should always gather the information needed for a cutline, including the names (spelled correctly) of the people visible in their photos. National News Photographers Association. For those interested in photojournalism, this is one of the best organizations to be affiliated with. Visit the organization’s web site and find out what’s required to join. You’ll also find a lot more there.
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