In preparation for our photo story assignment, our class got a chance to learn from Adam Glanzman, a Northeastern staff photographer and a freelance photojournalist.
According to Glanzman there are four kinds of shots to look for while covering a photo story:
- Wide Shot: “A scene setting shot.”
- Detailed Shot: “Something that gives you a little information but keeps you guessing….’Who is this guy? Why is he important?'”
- Portrait Shot: “If you mess up everything else but you have a portrait shot, you still have a story.”
- Ender Shot: “Something that helps tie it all together. It doesn’t leave the reader wondering what will happen next.”
Glanzman takes thousands of photographs – a variety of shots – when he covers a single story, even though he knows that only a dozen or so may be published. “It happens. That is just photojournalism,” he said.
Your shots should go beyond just the story, he explained. You need to give the viewer more of a perspective on the subject of the story, not just the bare minimum related to the story. Take a detailed shot that illustrates your subject’s emotions. What does the subject do on the weekends? What makes the subject laugh? Capture that.
Of course, it’s not always that easy. Sometimes people don’t want to be photographed in certain situations. They might yell at you. They might even spit, said Glanzman. But if you’re in public and your editor has given you an assignment, you have the right to photograph. You work through it and you do the job you were assigned. Maybe to avoid sticking a large device in someone’s face you decide to be discrete with a smartphone.
Like most photojournalists (I presume), Glanzman prefers using his high-quality camera rather than his iPhone, but he knows how important it is to always have it as back up. You can encounter circumstances, other than a subject who won’t comply, that prohibit you from using your large camera. Glanzman gave a example of a ride-along, in which a police officer suggested sneaking in pictures with his phone.
You just have to be aware of the the limitations of a smartphone. You will never get the same depth of field with an iPhone that you would with a fancy, professional camera. But if you’re okay with the shallow look, by all means go for it. Regardless of the depth though, you want to make sure you have a clean background. It should not be “muddled up”. First you want to examine the background before you even focus on the subject, Glanzman guided us. You place your subject in the frame afterwards.
Most importantly though, “photography is all about light.”Smartphones don’t do so well in dark light, so they are better off shooting in the daytime. But no matter what device you choose to use, you have to look for shadows and discover the light source.
All of this from a guy who did not study photography during his undergrad at the University of Michigan, but rather found his love for photojournalism while working for his university paper.