Many amateur photographers are asked if they can make a photo or two for possible publication in a club or organization newsletter, or possibly for submission to a local newspaper for publication in the community section. While it is up to an editor to decide whether a photo is run, the quality of the image can influence whether it runs at all.
I have photographed a variety of community events for the San Mateo Daily Journal since 2010. These are the guidelines I follow for my images, and I suggest you consider doing the same.
Arranging For Time: If you know a photo will be taken, arrange for the event organizer to get you subjects together at a specific location, at a specific time.
Landscape Orientation: I always compose my images in the landscape (horizontal) format. Since the caption is placed below the image, the wider text line is the more efficient use of this limited space. Trust me on this one.
Visual Content: Every images communicates to the viewer at two levels:
- Recognition: The viewer recognizes something in the image that relates to the event. This would be appropriate logos, trophies, or certificates.
- Inference: The viewer recognizes something to suggests a mood. Smiles, hand gestures, and body posture contribute to the "feeling" of a photo.
Incidentally, they dancers are just warming up, as making a photograph during the actual parade can be distracting to other viewers. No sense in making it difficult for others to enjoy the actual parade.
There is a single distracting element in the background - the costumed dancer walking out of the frame. The image could not be cropped tighter without cutting into a the right-most dancer's arm and leg. The image is pretty much the way I saw it in the viewfinder, which is to say it was only slightly cropped.
The 4 B's: There is a general rule about what makes a good, publishable photo called the "4 B's". Simply put, the most publishable shots will have "Babies, Babes, Beasts, or Blood". One could argue that I met the second criterion, but without any props, the photo has no real context.
Looking back, I can find a lot of flaws with the photo, many that could have been easily corrected. The reality of the shots include the difficulty in getting everybody together, the time it took for everybody to get their awards, and the five minutes I had to make the photo before the evening's Mistress of Ceremonies began her presentation. And when all is said and done, nearly all of my subjects would rather be doing something else.
Glare: When photographing award recipients, have them tip the awards down slightly. This will eliminate any glare issues.
Backgrounds: The background to be used to define the location, and often the relevance, of a photograph (Photo 6a). Here, it's pretty clear who the event sponsor was, and the microphone suggests that that the subject is speaking to a large audience.
I tend to crop to the same proportions as 35mm film (aka Aspect Ratio of 1.5). In this photo, any addition reduction of the photo might lead to clipping part of my subject's left hand.
In both of these shots, the subject placement closely follows the classic "rule of thirds" placement of the subject. This is more about the speaker and less about the sponsor.
To make the shot, I placed a second flash on the floor and aimed it towards the sail. Some light spilled onto the auction prizes on the left side of the frame. I might add that in the interest of space, the editor cropped out the ceiling and the sail.