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Basic Principles of Photojournalism

written by: Gustavo Lequerica-Calvo•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 12/11/2008

Ever wonder how photojournalist get those amazing shots? With some practice and some knowledge in photography, you can emulate those incredible photos that you see in the daily newspaper.

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    Examples of the use of Narrative

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    Photojounalism for Begginners

    If you thought that it was difficult to take a picture at a birthday party, going through the city streets and trying to capture a moment is going to be harder. But with a little knowhow and a bit of skill, photojournalism can be less challenging. You need to take care of the information value and composition of your snapshots because there are no second opportunities in the photojournalism field.

    When evaluating the qualities of the photos, you can follow the simple acronym N.O.T., to remember the three basic steps to obtain a great photo. But what is the meaning of N.O.T.?

    N = Narrative: The juxtaposition of the images and the text, so they can have a harmony to the reader, and the reader can understand more the message of the picture more easily.

    O = Objectivity: The content and tone you want to show according to your point of view. Remember that when you are being objective, you aren’t expressing a general truth, you are expressing your ideas and values through your work.

    T= Timeline: Every product of information is linked to an expiration date. Depending on the event, the photograph could have a short time span. For example, if the event is a catastrophe, it will have a great length before reaching the expiration term. Conversely, if it is someone who died in a car crash, the expiration of the information will probably be less than 24 hours.

    Following the N.O.T will give you the basic theory as to what principles rule the media. Photojournalism can be quite complex, due the ethic field, and the ability of the photojournalist to capture the moment, but also the moment needs to be evaluated if it’s ok to publish. I am not saying that it's necessary to be political correct, but you shouldn’t contort people’s point of view beyond recognition, as the main goal is to spread the information, but spread it wisely.

    Part two of this article series (coming soon) will be about the tactics you can use when you are in an assignment, such as to use natural resources to obtain the best results.

    One of the most fascinating aspects of journalism is telling the story of the daily living, it can be through words or images, but some forms of narrative are based on image only, and one of those forms is the photojournalist, the art of telling a story with an image.

Photojournalism 101

Whether you are simply looking for the definition of photojournalism, are considering a career in this field, or want to learn tips and techniques on mastering this type of photography, here are several articles that will help you learn what photojournalism is all about.
  1. The Definition of Photojournalism: Looking at Ethics in Photojournalism
  2. Basic Principles of Photojournalism
  3. Photojournalism Careers: Looking at Photojournalism Degree Requirements
  4. Photojournalism Photography: Capturing Events (Pre-Shooting)
  5. Preparing for Your First Shoot as a Photojournalist