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Online Journalism

reflections on a changing medium

Chapter 1 of Kenneth Kobre’s Photojournalism explains how the key to being a good photojournalist involves equal parts being at the right place at the right time and technique.

While the act of being at the right place at the right time can involve a bit of luck, it’s also about stacking the deck in your favor and strategizing in order to get the best opportunities as a photographer. One example of such strategizing involves the active emergence of oneself in the world of news. To be a photographer is not to be isolated from the reporting and writing end of things. It is important to remain up-to-date on current events and to actively monitor the news in anticipation of the kind of potential assignments that may be in store for you. In chapter 1, many of the journalists mentioned use elaborate setups of multiple radios and scanners in their homes and cars in order to get the news first. It is important to remember that, while a reporter can generally still write a story after an incident, a photographer must be immediately present to capture the action (what Kobre sees as the most interesting and instrumental part of photojournalism).  Certain online technologies can be used in the same way as these scanners, TVs and radios. Specifically, Twitter can be very useful for this sort of thing, as many people tweet at the scene of important events or to spread the news as it is happening.

Another thing that Kobre strongly suggests that photojournalists do is create a network of contacts, both professional and casual. Other journalists can keep you up-to-date on the new being reported and others influential or everyday people in the community (In the chapter, photojournalist Bruce Chambers cites his mom as a useful source) can inform you of a whole host of interesting things that perhaps you wouldn’t otherwise happen upon yourself. With a wide range of perspectives suggesting to you what might be newsworthy, the greater the chances of you photographing interesting happenings in unique ways.

Advising the reader of the more technical aspects of photojournalism, Kobre suggests using a wide variety of shots and considering the choices of your angle and positioning relative to the subject.

These include:

overall shots” – high angle shot that captures as much of the scene as possible.

Medium shots – tells a story showing most of the subject. Can capture action. Shows the subject in the environment.

Close-ups – shows detail and texture.  

It is also suggested that you take your photos at different levels to add interest to a subject. Today, you don’t have to be a photographer to take adequate photographs. With equipment like our Kodak flipcams and simple editing software like Piknik, it is easy to capture interesting moments if you’re creative, persistent and focused. With new these technologies along with cell phones, smaller camera for increased mobility and simple interfaces, and simple photo sharing and hosting software, amateurs can become photojournalists over night.

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