Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Background Story

Journalism, With Photos. Submitting photographs for publication has been a great learning opportunity for me. Probably the single most important thing I've learned (repeatedly!) is the each photograph must tell, or support, the story. A detailed caption is no substitute for a photo that includes important visual details from front to back.

Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Often called the 5 W's, the photo must answer as many of these questions as possible, thereby creating the interest that will encourage the viewer to actually read the article.

Summer Of Slither. The sample photo at the top of the page was taken at the Steinhart Aquarium at the opening of the Summer Of Slither exhibit. While the caption gave the Where and the When, I liked the photo because the background helped to establish the "Where". In this example, the background shows other exhibits, visitors, and a photographer focusing on a large lizard. The details in the background make it clear that the venue is a museum of some sort. To see the article,click here.

Photographing Against Glass. Glare is a problem when photographing subjects that are behind class. You can avoid some of it by positioning yourself as close the glass as possible. In this case, the camera itself will black a great deal of the offending glare, making it easier to get a clean shot. Touch the glass with your lens hood, if this is possible. Of course, this presumes that your final position gives you a pleasing composition in spite of the spacial restraints.

Overkill. Since I knew in advance I would be photographing reptiles behind glass, I carried in my camera bag a small, collapsible reflector (about 1 square foot) and a black tee-shirt. When the glare got started to get out of hand, I pulled the tee-shirt over the collapsible reflector which made a "shade" I could use to block the glare. I held the shade with my left hand and the camera with my right hand, and squeezed off the shot. A few moments later, I saw the photographer in the background, I re-composed the image to include him in the photo.