In light of The Washington Post‘s achievement this week in scoring a Pulitzer for its excellent photo coverage from Haiti, I thought I’d dust off this list which originated in my days as Director of Visual Journalism, and faculty member, at Poynter. There, along with my colleague Kenny Irby, we tried hard to help gain/earn more respect in newsrooms for editorial designers, artists, and photographers. In many circles these fine folks were quickly coming to be known as “visual journalists,” but not quite everywhere, so in one of our seminars we started a string of “Things to never say to a photojournalist.” Here are 13 of mine, and in the comments field, many more from blog followers. Have your own? Add to the growing list of great suggestions in the comments field, below. If you think your newsroom could use a gentle reminder that “language counts,” feel free to post near the water cooler as well. (Also check out the companion post, “22 things to never say to a designer.”)
THINGS TO NEVER SAY TO A PHOTOJOURNALIST
(Published at www.ronreason.com/designwithreason/
Compiled by Ron Reason with help from friends – make sure to read the newest submissions in the comments field, below!)
1. “Are you just a photographer, or do you write, too?”
2. “And this is my photographer, Bob Smith.” (Said by reporter introducing himself to the person he is about to interview.)
3. “We need to fill this page, get one of the photographers and tell them to go find something.”
4. “All we need is a head shot.”
5. “Is there anything else?” or “You got anything better than this?” (to which one possible answer might be: “Yes, but today we only edited the third best.”)
6. “Is that person in the story?”
7. “Don’t you have a picture of the person in the lede?”
8. Any reference making distinction between “the photographers and the content people.”
9. “At the baseball game tonight shoot me a vertical, I already have the page laid out.”
10. “The story’s written. We just need somebody to snap a picture of this guy.”
11. “Here is what we’d like you to shoot for the lead photo. Now, for the secondary…”
12. “No, you can’t come on the interview. The subject will never open up with a photographer around.”
13. “Try to get a good picture. We need a centerpiece.”
In reviewing these I have to laugh at some of the stuff my photojournalist friends have put up with. My admiration goes out to the fantastic photo teams I worked with for years at the St. Pete Times, and later at clients including The Dallas Morning News, Boston Herald, Orlando Sentinel, The Standard in Nairobi, Kenya, the East Bay Newspapers group of weeklies out of Bristol, RI (Richard Dionne, Jr. – one of the best!) and other strong photo papers I’ve helped redesign around the world.
Have your own “thing not to say to a photojournalist” that you don’t see above? Submit in comments below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks!
- An online chat with The Washington Post‘s Pulitzer-winning photojournalists.
- An online gallery of The Post’s work from Haiti.
- I just love the work of street photographer Vivian Maier and I bet you will, too. Here’s a sampling of some of her wonderful black and white photos of old people enjoying newspapers, during the glory days, and links where you can explore more of her work.
- A sampling of posts on newspaper design and photojournalism on this blog.
- Companion post: “22 things to never say to a designer.”
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- Twitter: Follow Ron Reason News Design on Twitter.