We live in a visually orientated society. Ruth Schwarze states in her
book "The Science of Creativity" that 78% of our perception takes place
through seeing, 13 % through hearing and the rest through touching,
smelling and tasting 20. A picture tells its own story. It
speaks vividly, simply and quickly 8.
History of Photography
What is a photograph?
the Frenchman Louis Daguerre perfected a technique to produce photographs
on silvered, light sensitive copperplates - so called Daguerreotypes.
This was the first widely-practised form of photography. Early in 1839
the Englishman Henry Fox Talbot published a process to produce photographs
on paper. He also developed the Calotype on which the current negative-positive
process is based.
the late 19th century newspapers relied on woodcuts and copperplate
etchings made from line drawings to illustrate their publications. Zinc-etching
made it possible to reproduce a photograph with all its tonal values
21. This created a demand for photographs to illustrate news
and for advertising.
colour photography is about 70 years old. The archival properties of
earlier colour photographs were not as good as their black & white
counterparts and valuable historical information has been lost forever.
imaging is rapidly replacing film, especially for newspaper and magazine
use. This makes the manipulation of "photographs" easy and the trustworthiness
of newspapers and magazines will be put to the test in the coming years.
use photographs in a publication?
Photos might increase your readership and they can promote positive
public relations 18. But they cost:
yourself - is there a reason for this photograph? Photographs create a
mood, increase understanding and interest and convey a message. Avoid
boring photographs. Mug shots (head & shoulders) are boring, action
shots are much more interesting 17. In Photos of committees
and groups all faces should be recognisable; if there is a choice between
a bad photograph or none, choose none.
- for film, developing and printing, enlargements, etc.
- to be cropped and sized, captions have to be written, etc.
visual appeal (impact) - subjects should be easy to identify, people
cause emotional response, action aids to appeal
design possibilities and
of excellent technical quality 7
The equipment (the camera and the film) used by the photographer directly
influences the quality of the photographs. For information on the different
camera formats consult my notes "An Introduction to Black & White
Photography and Darkroom Techniques". The filmspeed of the film used for
a photograph determines the size of the grain. High speed films have coarser
grain and a lower resolution than slow speed films. Coarse grain can however
be used creatively.
submitted for publication can be divided into four main groups:
Black & white photographs
prints should be clean and dust-free, without marks from processing
or otherwise or holes caused by staplers, pins, paperclips, etc.
Small faults can be retouched.
full range of tonal values should be present - from white to darkest
black - pay special attention to highlight - and shadow detail.
Remember - contrast increases during printing. Avoid photographs
consisting of mostly gray tones without any whites and blacks. Make
sure that the subject is suitable for black & white?
Make sure that the important parts are in focus. Selective focusing
can be used very creatively, but if the important areas in a photograph
are out of focus it is useless.
Colour photographs (prints)
As for black & white prints.
The contrast of a colour print cannot be controlled by the printer
but is inherent to the film and paper used to produce the print.
Colour casts can be the result of incorrect printing or of the
colour of the light source (colour temperature) at the time of taking
As for black & white prints.
for black & white prints. Remember - any faults will be enlarged
as much as the transparency.
contrast of a colour transparency is inherent to the film. The tonal
range on a colour transparency can be as much as 500 to 1, whereas
the range of printable ink is only 100 to 1 1. This means
that the tonal range will be compressed during printing.
colour cast can be the result of the light source or incorrect handling
and storage of the film prior to exposure and processing.
As for black & white prints.
There is a strong tendency to move away from film to digital imaging
and the next few years will bring major changes for photographers and
printers. Similar criteria as those for prints and transparencies do
however apply to these images. Make sure that you receive the photographs
in a format that can be handled by your system.
& white and colour prints have an advantage above transparencies
- they are produced from negatives and the prints can be manipulated
in the darkroom - cropped for better composition, areas can be burnt-in
or dodged for better tonal values. They should preferably be printed
on glossy paper. Textured papers might reduce the sharpness of the printed
image. Electronic Images can of course also be manipulated and saved
in a format preferred by the printer.
Pay attention to the following:
space, three dimensional depth, volume
value, size reference
repetition, balance, rhythm
- depth of field, movement
golden section - see diagram on right
Most photographs benefit from tight cropping, eliminating everything that
is unnecessary and distracting. Look for something different in the photograph
and how to emphasize it. Sometimes the composition improves by "flopping"
(mirroring) the photograph - this is not possible if there is writing
or a well known object in the photograph. If an entire scene is boring,
try a close-up.
Photographs become a tool to break the grey matter of text - they are
stepping stones between stories. Rearrange a page to fit the picture
if necessary - faces should look into the page and not out of it.
The Photo Spread:
Avoid same size photographs, group photographs of the same subject.
and briefing a photographer
Photographers specialize - sport-, industrial, social-, portrait &
wedding etc. Choose the right photographer for the occasion. Most photographers
do most of their work in colour and not all are good in black &
white photography. Find out whether the photographer has a studio. Disadvantages
of location photography - unpredictable weather - This can lead to delays
and increase expenses tremendously.
Explain to the photographer how the photograph will be used, decide
on a visual style and the "mood" the photograph should impart. The final
size of the photograph will influence the camera format chosen by the
photographer and thus the cost of the shoot. Stay within the limits
of your budget and deadline. Make your requirements clear and listen
to suggestions from the photographer.
Consult legal directives about this.
A freelance photographer may own the copyright to all his work. Sign
the necessary agreements with him before using a photograph.
Remember - people have the "Right to Privacy" and pictures can invade
privacy. A "Model release" - A written release worded correctly, signed
and witnessed is necessary before photographs of people can be printed.
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