This is one of the toughest things for a photographer to do or have to accept being done for them. We have images we like and sometimes just liking an image isn’t enough, in fact there really is only one criteria in journalism when it comes to journalism, does it engage the reader in the story.
“In the story” is the key. A picture doesn’t have to tell a 1,000 words, but it has to tell the story or at least a part of the story that words may not. I made this picture about, and really liked, the color and graphic quality of the image. If it had been about the Harbor Creek School District or about cancer then it would be a good graphic eye-stopping image to go with the story.
But the story wasn’t about that at all.
It was a story about a consultant coming to talk to the Venango County high schools about evaluating the issues facing today’s youth in this community and brainstorming ideas to see if they can develop solutions to fix them.
Yes, the main silhouetted image in the center is the consultant. Visually this image would be misleading to the story.
This image, which isn’t as ‘pretty’ utilizes the same graphic principles to make the image, a strong graphic and a silhouetted speaker. This image doesn’t tell the whole story, but it isn’t misleading either. Much more direct and to the point. And visually interesting with the red arrows pointing toward the speaker.
So this image becomes a much better image to use in the paper even though the first image is probably more attractive to the eye.
This picture alone I wouldn’t want to tell the whole story because it lacks the heart of the story. So We used this photo and another not shown in the paper to round out visually the information of the story and event.
As a self editor I work hard on understanding the proper way to present a story and I work with solid editors at The Derrick and The News-Herald who understand photographs and how they communicate. We may not always agree which one should lead and which is secondary. However, I have grown to trust the decisions made by our news editor Mark Oliver because he also understands how important a properly placed image is in getting the reader’s attention and drawing them into the story.
We are never right 100% of the time, but, in my 13 months here, I’m pretty proud of most of our visual decisions.