Photojournalism is a form of documentary photography (along with lifestyle and street photography), where the images captured show an event or story through action shots, taken without little or no direction from the photographer. Photojournalism can be used in series of images, or in just a stand-alone shot. You’ll see photojournalism featured most in images in newspapers and on news websites, but this candid style of photography has become very popular in recent times, particularly for portrait and wedding photography.
Photojournalism often gives photos a sense of authenticity that is missing from posed or styled photos. Below are some tips on how you can incorporate the photojournalistic style into your everyday photography of friends, family and social activities.
The best photojournalists 'blend into the walls'. Sitting back and observing is one of the key skills of a great photojournalist, and you can incorporate this tactic into your everyday style, by shooting in a way that makes you inconspicuous. Pretend to be playing with your camera so your subjects don't realise they're your focus, shoot from another room or or point your lens into a mirror that is facing your subjects so you can capture them without actually looking directly at them.
Being open to the art of waiting can be a challenge, but letting a scene unfold in front of you and allowing your subjects to be themselves can be very rewarding, as you’re more likely to capture natural expressions and unguarded moments, like in the photo below. Try to slow down when you are shooting and wait for the action to happen.
Image taken by Marlon Dias
One of the key aspects of the photojournalistic style is letting the scene or the subject tell the story, and not hiding it behind layers of editing, adjustments, or filters. Deadlines are tight for press photographers, who don't have the luxury of being able to sit down and fiddle with their shots in Photoshop before sending them off to be published. For this reason, most images are published straight out of camera, or with only minor tweaks to the contrast or exposure.
In addition to saving time, publishing images without retouching ensures that the integrity of the scene remains intact. The image shows the subject as it was at the time without removing things such as telephone poles, or skin airbrushing. Photojournalists often pride themselves on their lack of editing, as it means that they have to be on their toes at all times, making sure to get the best shot possible in camera. Adopting this approach will help you to improve your composition and creative eye, as you will be forced to notice all elements in the frame. You'll naturally learn to spot and recompose around distractions, and you'll find that you spend less time trying to 'fix' things later on the computer. The photo below of a mother in the early days of caring for a newborn baby is a great example of a photo that is powerful because it is so raw and unembellished.
Tell A Visual Story
A good photojournalist knows how to lead and engage the viewer on a visual journey, giving a true sense of the time, place, event, or subject in the moment the image was taken. Using a variety of interesting compositions, angles and viewpoints, each shot is eye-catching, but also helps to contribute to the story as a whole. The image below is one of several taken of a bride and her bridesmaids getting ready, and in a single frame it contributes a lot of meaning to the story of the day, and what happened "behind the scenes".
Image taken by Ryan Polei
Incorporating a diverse range of shots into your everyday photography can help you to really tell the story of your subjects, and it will help you to mix up your images, so that your shots don't always look the same. It might also help push you to use that one lens that you always avoid.
Let Go Of Perfection
While it's always great to aim for perfection, a photo doesn't have to be technically brilliant in order for it to be a good example of photojournalism. If a shot really articulates the feel of a bike whizzing through the streets, but is a little bit blurry, don't rule it out straight away. If you have a low light scene where you have captured fantastic action, but the ISO is adding a bit of grain to the image, you don't have to dismiss it. The photo below communicates such strong emotions from the subjects that the soft focused areas go almost unnoticed.
Photojournalism is not about highly retouched, technically impeccable photography. It's about taking someone back to the scene or moment in the photos so they can see what truly happened.