Capturing Moments

We “read” journalistic photos for the emotions they portray and invoke. We read them to get a sense of scene, environment, or place. In them, we seek reflections of ourselves and portraits of the human condition. Journalistic photos capture moments in time, chronicle events, and convey the details of a scene with visual precision not possible in any other form. These are all powerful concepts, indeed. Photojournalism provides visual cues that transcend language.

Perhaps more than any other medium, photojournalism has been transformed by the multimedia movement. Space has always been a major limitation for most print publications. So, although photographers often shoot hundreds of photos for a single story, most of the time only one or two images make it to press. However, when print publications began to take full advantage of the multimedia potential of the Web, photojournalists benefited from rich new story structures that go beyond the single image presentation. Before, images were largely seen as supplements to written stories. Now, photo presentations may comprise the whole of a story.

This chapter addresses both the power of the photo as a storytelling device, as well as the different ways photos are presented in print and online formats. Likewise, we will explore some of the more innovative ways news organizations are using slideshow and gallery structures. We will also examine how the role of the photojournalists has changed in the multimedia landscape and look at the role of audio in multimedia photo stories.

Topics Covered

Photos in print
Print publications have long used photographs as a way to capture the visual moments of a story. Traditionally, print photos are presented in two basic ways: in combination with a written story or as standalone visual stories.

Photos on the Web
There are a number of variations on how images are used online. Single images that accompany other story forms are similar to their print counterpart, while slideshows and galleries provide photojournalists with significant new options for telling stories.

Photo galleries
Photo galleries are particularly useful for presenting many images, each of which provides a different look at a single subject. Galleries may contain captions, audio clips with each image, or both.

Regardless of whether a photo appears alone in print, as a part of a collection of images seen all at once, in the form of a linear slideshow, or as a nonlinear gallery, they are stories. And any good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Thus, photo editing for journalistic storytelling is often a very complex process that involves a number of important considerations.

Innovative photo packages across platforms
Photo slideshows with audio and nonlinear galleries are the two most common types of digital photo stories online. However, some photographers have begun to explore more innovative presentations that represent different variations of these concepts. Some have blurred the lines between photo/audio slideshows.

Serving mobile users
Handheld devices become an innovative platform for bite sized story forms like slideshows and galleries. And early tablet applications seem to be a great venue for photos both because the formidable screen size and exceptional screen resolution.