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Living & Learning

NewsU Language of the Image

Recently I took NewsU Language of the Image which educated me on the journalistic value of photos and visual language.

  • There are three different photo types:
  1. Informational: An informational photograph is little more than a visual record of a person, place, or event.  It offers nothing more than identification value and has no redeeming story-telling qualities.
  2. Passive: These situations show people whose essential purpose is to have their photo taken for publication.  In spite of its limitations, there are times when passive photography is all that is required of a situation.  It is all that is possible when the event that makes up the action of the story is no longer taking place.  This is when the photographer makes the best possible environmental portrait.  This is legitimate and useful role for passive photography.
  3. Active: These situations show real people involved in real events in real time.  This is far preferable to shooting portraits after the fact because it brings the insight of documentary photojournalism to the daily mix of newspapers and magazines.  It allows photographers to produce images that tell readers about their community and the world in a way that informs, inspires and makes them happy, sad or concerned.  Photojournalism needs to go beyond the surface facts and should try and capture the essence of a situation or personality.

  • There are many different elements in a photo like graphics, quality of light, emotion, juxtaposition, mood, sense of place, point of entry, impact, rule of thirds, perspective, surprise, layering, moment and personality photo.
  • Most images utilize more than one element to enhance their story-telling capabilities.
  • When taking photographs the photographer can use different approaches.

Notes taken from NewsU Language of the Image.

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