### The Skills

Photojournalism is an extremely competitive field. Having the right skill sets is essential to having a successful career. First, people skills are the most important thing. A photojournalist need to be able to quickly gain the trust of their subjects and do in their work in a way that will not violate that trust. Strong journalism skills go hand-in-hand with that. Knowing how to determine the most important aspects of a story and how to report that to the public is crucial. This means that most photojournalists are trained in other aspects of journalism as well including writing and interviewing.

#### Shooting Skills

A person seeking a photojournalism position must also have a flawless portfolio. A portfolio must contain a variety of images from the aforementioned assignment types, and those images must demonstrate an ability to work in tough situations. The downfall of many starting out in photojournalism is working in low light situations. The photo below was basically taken at night with no flash. The shutter speed around an eighth of a second, but since I had practiced steadying myself and I knew to use my motor drive to shoot through my shakes, I produced a sharp image lit only by candles.

The three elements of a great photograph are light, composition and moment. Knowing how to use a flash when needed and looking for dramatic natural light are good skills to have. Also knowing the fundamentals of composition such as the rule-of-third, leading lines and repetition of form will take you a long way. But finding that perfect moment is essential. Look for the emotion peak.

#### Technology Skills

A modern photojournalist must also be able to digitally tone and transmit their images and be well versed in online tools like blogging and social media. The trend right now is moving toward more and more video for the web. Photojournalists now often carry video equipment to capture footage when needed. With video also comes the need to have a basic knowledge of video editing software.

### Ethics

The most important thing, the thing that separates photojournalism from other forms of photography is trust. The audience must be able to trust that the image they see is a true representation of what was happening. This comes down to two main issues: interference and manipulation. A photojournalist must never interfere with a situation. He/She can never direct or pose their subjects, unless the situation calls for a portrait, then they follow the rules of mentioned above in the photo assignment section. Portraits are also labeled as such in the caption by using phrasing like “Mr. Smith poses" and the like.

It can be argued that a photographer's presence alone can alter the situation. While this sometimes is true, the impact can be minimized by patience and practice. People will eventually get used to having a photographer there, and in lucky cases, subjects will forget about it all together. The photojournalist must be good at explaining his or her purpose so the subjects understand that they should pose or alter their behavior.

#### Post-Production Ethics

The manipulation of photos is also strictly forbidden. This especially applies to post-production. Nothing should be edited into or out of an image. Post-production work should really only focus on correcting color problems, exposure and latitude problems, and slight sharpness problems. Cameras are still not as good at rendering images as the huge eye, so we sometimes have to make up for their sort comings.

Cropping is also fine. But wrinkles stay, bags under the eyes stay, stains on shirts stay. A photojournalist cannot move a basketball around in the frame or take one out or put one in. Adding dramatic effects like vignetting, artist filters and so on are also against the rules.

#### An Ethical Approach and Attitude

Another side of ethics is how the photojournalist shoots and portrays their subjects. This requires compassion and a genuine interest in the people and topics covered. This part of ethics is much harder to talk about, so I'd like to describe a situation I was once in that happens all the time in the world of journalism.

I was called to the scene of an accident, so this would fall into the spot news category of the field. A young girl had been struck by a car. It's was an accident and the driver was not intoxicated nor did they hit the child intentionally. When I arrived on the scene, the driver was still present along with many members of the victims family. The two parties knew each other and we're mourning together. I made the photo below. It is a little graphic due to the blood on the driver's shirt.

The image is obviously compelling, but what's the point? Is it news? You often cannot make that decision while you're in the field. After returning to the newsroom, the reporter had discovered that the apartment complex where the accident took place had recently sent a letter to all of their residents requesting that they be extra cautious when driving for the safety of children and pedestrians. So we ran the photo. The young girl died in the hospital later, but the point of the news story wasn't to exploit her death, but to raise awareness about a problem. This is a fine line and requires a lot of thought and discussion before making a final decision.

### Access

Without compassion and trust, access will never come. By access, I mean convincing people to allow you to document their lives, to give you access to their story. The best stories don't come from press conferences or public relations pitches, they come from getting out there and finding interesting people. Asking those people to let you follow them around, sometimes for months, can be hard. There are several things to take into account.

#### Risk/Benefit Analysis

First, the photojournalist must determine how a subject's story will benefit the public. Second, it should be determined how the story will affect the subject personally. Could it help them achieve something they want or could it damage their reputation and make life harder for them? Each story has it's own unique factors, but the photojournalist must present this balancing act of public good vs. personal damage or gain to their subjects in a way that they understand. After that, whether or not to allow access is up to them. However, once the journalist is allowed inside a situation it is up to them to behave in a way that will allow for continued access. Basically, they have to not get kicked out... well not permanently at least.

#### The “Out"

But giving your subject the power to kick you out temporarily is a very good idea. Let me explain, many photojournalists give their subjects an “out." They tell them if they get uncomfortable and want them to leave for a little while, that that's fine. Giving the subjects a temporary escape from the public eye is important, but usually knowing that they have the power to send you away without you getting upset is enough. Having the option is often more important that using it.

#### Dedication and Compassion

Lastly, the subject must know that the journalist is dedicated to the story as well. Spending a lot of time with subjects helps a lot and goes hand-in-hand with trust and compassion. The photo below was part of a story I did about a mother who was raising her young daughter with Cerebral Palsy. The daughter, Lianna, was around 5-years-old and could do very little for herself.

Her mother had to feed her, bath her, carry her, lift her and interpret her eyes signals to know what she was trying to say because she could not speak. Because of the time I spent with this family, her mother gave me access to everything, even including bath time to demonstrate the extent that Lianna relied on her mother.

### Storytelling

As I mentioned early, photojournalism is the act of telling stories with photos. Most stories in newspapers and magazines allow room for only one photo to accompany them, therefore the most you can tell the better. There are a lot of ways to do this, but I'll focus on the two strongest tools in the photojournalists bag.

#### Layers

Often layers are utilized to add context to an image. A photo that shows a musician playing enthusiastically could be taken anywhere, but that same musician shoot with a crowd in the background tells a story. Maybe the crowd is huge and the musician is feeding off their energy, or maybe the crowd is small and the musician is still giving it everything he has. Either way, layering the content adds a lot to the story. The layers don't necessarily have to be on a large scale like that, small elements and details can also add those layers of content.

#### Emotion

The other important aspect of telling stories is emotion. The photojournalist has to be an expert at reading and more importantly anticipating facial expressions. A tear, a thoughtful glance, a huge joyful smile, all of these reveal how the subject of the photo feels about what they are doing. From the time we are infants, we learn to recognize the faces of the people we're around, utilizing it in a photo can be very powerful.

The photo below is of a veteran of World War II. He fought in the Pacific and was being awarded a medal for his service by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars association. The medal and the badges of the other people in the photo create layers and I believe that his expression shows appreciation, I hope that this is easily read by viewers. I hope that this tutorial gives you a better insight into the world of photojournalism.