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Old Jul 25, 2003, 10:14 AM   #1
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Default Taking photos for the newspaper

Any news agency photo editors out there?

Yesterday on my way home there was a *** BIG *** accident on the Interstate (road was closed for over 2 hours) and I took several good shots (I was on a service road that parallels the highway) of the Med-Evac landing/taking off and emergency crew moving about doing their jobs. When I got home I sent them to my local paper and the graphic artist said that he won't use them because they don't show the actual vehicles involved (they were blocked by emergency equipment, so I couldn't get a shot).

So, my question is, what do you look for when deciding whether or not to include a photo for publication. Just wondering, so next time I'll know what to look for.

Thanks
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Old Jul 25, 2003, 3:22 PM   #2
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Interesting topic. I'm just an amature who also happens to run in these kind of situations (but never tried to offer any photos to anewspaper). If you think of it , it probably sums up the same rules as for a written article; Facts. What they call their facts will differ between newspapers.

Here in the Netherlands we have several national news papers each with quite different style of frontpage photo's. Varying from newsfacts in gallons blood per minute upto more poetic only showing a hint of the situation. Seen once on the front page a photo of a lost childshoe between a lot of rubble, it was enough to tell me there had been an awfull bombing somewhere in the world.

Especially with the poetic approach quality and style value is essential, not just technical but the right light, angle and framing. Human mind works in strange ways, filling in details.

And yes a barricade of emergency cars do also tell a story, but hey maybe they rather saw an overview of the traffic jam taken from a helicopter.
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Old Jul 26, 2003, 8:33 AM   #3
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Default Of News Photography...and Poetry

Of Photography...and Poetry

Think about it. In more ways than one!

If you were a staff photographer, they would have used your photos because they would know and trust you.

But you aren't. Therefore, they must check the color/make/year/license plates of the vehicles as part of the public record to ensure the accuracy of your shots. But the license plates/vehicles aren't shown in your photos.

The newspaper's photo editor had no way of easily and clearly guaranteeing that you were actually on the scene. The tail number of the helicopter isn't going to be in anyone's records that are easily accessible.

You should have climbed the fence or barricade and gotten more photos. You should have also spoken to someone from law enforcement on the scene and gotten the name, title and telephone number of the person in charge of the accident investigation.

Even a freelancer can do it. Start with the cop. Get permission. Stay behind whatever lines they tell you to. Yes, push it as much as possible, but with a smile, nod and salute to the fact they are in charge.

Once you ask for who is in charge and their number to contact for details later, they'll get the impression you know what you're doing.

Next, you go after the images. Document the scene, but know that it's the VICTIMS of such a crash that are the most interesting aspect. People first, then the vehicles. Better yet, people in the foreground, vehicles/damage in the background. It could be emergency workers with a determined look as they cut someone out of a smashed car, a mother cradling an injured child, a dazed and confused man sitting on the roadside next to a pile of twisted metal that he's got to make a payment on later in the week.

On another note...

John Beecher, the fabled American poet (and relative of Harriet Beecher Stowe/Uncle Tom's Cabin) wrote a poem about just such a scenario. Anyone who wants to be a journalist needs to memorize this one. I include it here, not to ridicule or amuse, but to keep it all in perspective...


Rain pelts the plastic-sheeted heap beside
the highway. One blue tennis shoe protrudes,
child-size. No child's the curving hip of her
mangled beneath, her car a jagged wreck.
The flinders of a second strew the swamp,
where moss-hung cypresses droop dankly down.
Attendants lead its blinded driver toward
the ambulance. Blood oozes from his lids.
Two cameras always at the ready, my
free-lancing friend leaps out and films the heap,
blue tennis shoe, the oozing lids, the feet
of spectators slogging around the corpse.
He climbs back in and we roar off again.
"That was a lucky break!" my friend exults.

The poem is entitled "Somebody Wins" and is included in Beecher's "Collected Poems, 1924-74"


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Old Jul 28, 2003, 8:33 AM   #4
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Hey, thank you for some very good tips reader!

In this case climbing the fence or going around a barricade wouldn't have worked because I was on the eastbound side and the accident was on the westbound side and eastbound traffic was still moving along at WARP SPEED!
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Old Jul 29, 2003, 3:48 PM   #5
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Has anyone out there done press photography? I was thinking more about this and it would be a good way to sharpen my skills. Maybe I'll contact my local paper.

Anyone have any experience in this area?
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Old Jul 29, 2003, 9:02 PM   #6
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Default Taking photos for the newspaper

Working with a local paper is a good way to start in news photography. Although the pay usually is not that great it is fun to do. I have taken news photos for a lot of years and now provide sports photos to both of the local papers in my area.

If you think you would like to take news photos, contact a local paper and see what you can work out. The only thing I would really like to stress is the ethics of news photography. I have found I get a lot more done by not having a "get the shot no matter what" attitude and before I submit a photo take a long hard look at it to really decide if it should be published. This is especially true of disaster photos. It may be a great shot but will it do more harm if published. I wish I could put it in better words other than let your heart guide you on what to submit to be published. (I've been at it for 30 years). Good luck!
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 7:16 AM   #7
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He, K1par you said exactly what I suspected; Local news photos are more sensitive to depicted greeve/ uncharm than a world news photo. It all is about the probability of being social with the people whom it may concern or who are related to the those.

And so this also goes for the photographer behaviour at the moment itself. Your attitude is closer watched in local scene than in national.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 7:58 AM   #8
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Default Re: Taking photos for the newspaper

Quote:
Originally Posted by k1par
Working with a local paper is a good way to start in news photography. Although the pay usually is not that great it is fun to do.
That's okay, I'm not going to quit my day job! I am going to contact my local paper and see if I can hang around with one of their photographers. I work during the day (like most people do) and of course, that is when most news happens. Maybe I could do some weekend photography for them.

Quote:
The only thing I would really like to stress is the ethics of news photography. I have found I get a lot more done by not having a "get the shot no matter what" attitude and before I submit a photo take a long hard look at it to really decide if it should be published. This is especially true of disaster photos. It may be a great shot but will it do more harm if published.
In the case of the auto accident I mentioned above I had shots of the rescue personnel moving about, doing what they do best. I also had a few shots of the Med-Evac 'copter and of them loading a victim into the 'copter. The photo editor said he wanted pictures of the vehicles involved in the accident, but even his staff photographer never would have gotten those. The vehicle involved (lone vehicle) went over an embankment and was blocked from view by fire trucks, so unless you were standing right there on scene, then those pictures were not possible to be had.

"Reader" had some very good tips in his (her?) post and even though in this case going around a barricade or climbing a fence would have been unsafe, it is certainly something for me to keep in mind if I am ever in another situation where there is breaking news and no one is around to record it.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 9:24 AM   #9
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Default Taking photos for the newspaper

PrmseKpr, you're right. Most people who do it for local papers have regular jobs. I know I do plus I have a micro business I run. Doing the photos for local papers is just plain fun. I don't make a lot of money at it but I am able to put that money towards more photo gear. Last year I was able to buy my Fuji S602Z from what I had earned.

AS for the accident photos it sounds like you got some good scene pics. The one of them loading into the helo would be a first choice for me to submit as long as the victim could not be identified in the pic.

If you really want to have some fun doing photos for newspapers get into local sports. Most local papers are hungry for that kind of photo. You can do a lot there and I have found the more you zoom in on a subject the better. The little league season just ended and I took a little of 1200 pics this year in six weeks. My only recommendation there is to watch out for foul balls :shock:

Give it a try, you have shown the interest which is a good sign.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 9:38 AM   #10
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Default Re: Taking photos for the newspaper

[quote="k1par"]
The little league season just ended and I took a little of 1200 pics this year in six weeks. My only recommendation there is to watch out for foul balls :shock:
[quote]

I just visited your home page, great shots!
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