A scan of our two SaddleBrooke newspapers shows just how much photography contributes to the articles. Good photography catches the eye and attracts the reader to the story. Overall, these photographs look really good. Digital cameras and high-quality newsprint reproduction are major contributors to making this possible.
But newsprint photo reproduction has limitations that require some extra care. First, your photo needs to be bright and clear. Dark photos generally don’t reproduce well. Make sure your subjects are well illuminated. If you are working with a bright light source, it should be behind the photographer.
Also, make sure your photo is sharp. Taking photos in dim light will leave the camera shutter open longer, possibly resulting in blur from camera and/or subject movement. If you must take a photo in poor light, take several and pick the sharpest one.
Photos for print use need to contain much more detail than those viewed on a monitor or Smartphone screen. Submitted photos should have a file size of 2 Mb. or greater. This should not be a problem for smartphones made in the last few years, or any point-and-shoot camera made in the last ten years or so.
But many photos submitted for publication do not meet that minimum size requirement. Based on personal experience, it seems that the default settings for many email programs reduce the photo size when it is emailed. There are too many different email programs to go into detail on each one, but generally, if you have a choice, send the photo the highest quality available and select 300 dots per inch (dpi) if this is an option.
With the technical stuff behind us, let’s look at what makes an eye-grabbing photo – a photo that will encourage the reader to learn more by reading the accompanying article. Try to make your photo stand out from the crowd. We all want to recognize our friends for their contributions to making an event successful, but due to space limitations, your photo could be fairly small when printed. Be careful when submitting large group photos.
So, what helps make your photo stand out? For several years, I coordinated a group of volunteer photographers who photographed a large national event. The photographers varied from year to year, but the one piece of simple advice I always gave them was to take photos of “happy people doing fun things.” I believe that’s also good advice for getting your best photos into print.
Try to give your photos a center of interest – people preparing or serving food, for example. Or maybe try something really different and get some photos of the clean-up crew (this, of course, assumes your activity involves food. Most of our Unit’s functions usually do!) Try using different angles – up high or down low. Take a vertical photo or two, if appropriate, as they offer the graphic designer laying out the newspaper pages some flexibility when working on your article.
When selecting photo(s) for submission, remember that space is always an issue for the papers. I generally submit no more than two photos with an article, with the understanding that the editor may well use just one (or none!) of them.
In general, I recommend taking a lot of photos and then picking out the best couple for submission to the publication. Don’t be afraid to experiment. In this digital age, it doesn’t cost anything extra to try something different!
Space constraints make it difficult to include detailed info in these articles. If you want more detail on any of the topics covered in this column, have general questions or comments, or an idea for a future column, please send me an email at PhotographyForEveryone@hagedon.net. I want and need your feedback to make sure this column is relevant and worth reading in future issues of Saddlebag Notes.
Jim has a Fine Arts degree with a major in Photography and more than 50 years’ experience in a wide range of photographic disciplines.