Thursday, 15 March 2012

27. Carry a camera with you, even if it's just on your mobile and remember to take pix. Photographers can't be everywhere.

Sadly, as I've stated before on this blog, local newspaper photographers are an increasingly rare breed.

Given the fact newspapers rely on content - namely words and pictures - to fill in the gaps between the adverts you would have hoped that photographers would have been kept on.

Naturally that is asking a little too much - which is a shame because a really good photographer can make all the difference. So too can a really bad one.

I once watched a photographer at an awards ceremony half lift up his camera a dozen times and never take a shot.

When the proceedings were over he shouted: "All together now." Like sheep they all got together for the great group shot. That evening he took a single picture.

The following day I was sent it in all its blurred glory - looking like a slightly hazy portrait of the Adamms Family...only without the charm.

(We never used that photographer again under my editorship.)

At the same time we lost a great asset to the paper - one whose art and dedication made a difference to the pages.

Indeed I've seen and worked with many photographers on local newspaper I would gladly work with again.

But bit by bit we are losing them. This, in part, is due to the increasingly cheap technology becoming available. That, and the fact there is no need for a dark room any more.

(Reporters have never been trusted with dangerous chemicals - a fact that remains true today but is largely confined to the showbiz circuit. *feeble joke*)

Digital technology has certainly made it a lot  easier for any slob to pick up a camera and point it in the direction of an object or person who, in turn, is usually pointing at something themselves.

(This in part, but certainly not entirely, is why local papers believe they can do away with photographers - some are so bad or lazy that managers thought anyone could do what they do...the same, it must be said, of a lot of reporters.)

So the point: If you are a reporter carry a camera with you. The bigger, the better really. It helps too if you learn how to use it.

You never know what's going to happen and with locals to usually one - although quite often no - photographers it is essential you learn the skill.

I am a rotten photographer. I have no "eye"....or for that matter no steady hand either.

As can be demonstrated from one of my own efforts when a photographer was unavailable one Saturday morning.

The man in the picture was the Dean of Truro Cathedral, who had been the subject of a church investigation when he was accused of having an affair.

He denied any wrong doing and was allowed back to work. (Although than put on gardening leave). However despite being cleared rumours persisted that was indeed now living with the woman.

He was, and this shaky shot taken on a Canon D500 (I won't go into lenses it's too tedious but it was pretty basic) was proof enough to go to the church authorities.

The picture was used about the size here in the paper I was working for at the time. It got a slightly bigger show in the Daily Mail.

This is a rather extreme example but think because in theory we are always heading towards the story...or we are if we are doing our job right.

And with mobiles now packing half-decent cameras it's worth remembering to take them out if you are first at the scene.

A crap picture is better than no picture.

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