Four Tips for a Photojournalist Working With a Reporter
February 18, 2014
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Being a photojournalist isn't always a solo venture. When working for a print or online publication, you'll often be paired with a reporter. You're both trying to capture the essence of a story—one with words, the other with images—so it's best to work together as a team. Here's how to do it.
Meeting Subjects Together
Sometimes assignment editors send a photojournalist to take pictures while the subject is active and in the moment, then assign the reporter to talk to the subject during downtime to get the subject's undivided attention.
Whenever possible, reporters should accompany photographers on the assignment. The reporter gets a more rounded snapshot of the story if she sees the subject interacting with others and the surrounding environment, while the photographer gets authentic, un-posed action shots. It's a win-win for everyone telling the story.
Discussing Visual Elements of the Story
While covering the story, communicate with the reporter about the best visual elements you plan to highlight with your images, then listen to the reporter to see which details will lead the story. By working together, the images and words will flow harmoniously.
For example, if you're covering the town Christmas parade and the reporter does an interview with the Dancing Elves Troop, get a great action shot of the dancers along the parade route. And similarly, if you've captured a front-page-worthy snapshot of a young parade participant feeding a candy cane to a parade horse, let the reporter know. She might like to get a quote from the child's parents to tie the endearing photo into the story.
How to Step Down During Interviews
As a photojournalist, curiosity can sometimes get the best of you. It's not uncommon to question what you see and want to speak up. But to maintain great working relationships with reporters, don't step on their toes; let them do their job. Only discuss the production of the story during a break or when the subject isn't talking with the reporter.
With that said, as a photojournalist, you need to gather information to write photo cutlines. Do this at the end of the meeting. Thank the subject for their time and explain you need a little extra information to finish the story. Verify the spellings of names and any technical information you plan to include in the cutline.
Collaborating in the Newsroom
Once you're back in the office, keep the momentum going. Download and edit your best images. Then show them to the reporter while she's working on putting together the story. One of your images might spark a new angle or help her out of a bout of writer's block.
If time and staffing allow, collaborate with the managing editor and page designers putting the package together. After all, you may work with the reporter to create a seamless story with relevant images only to find the photos cropped or the story edited, which may cause it to lose cohesiveness.
Working in tandem with a reporter produces cohesive, engaging stories. Whenever possible, attend assignments as a team, communicate often, and create the story together to make your work truly shine.
Photo credit: Morguefile