Tuesday , April 23 2024
This is a must-have book with a wealth of information useful to anyone with a camera.

Book Review: Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach – Sixth Edition by Kenneth Kobré

Photojournalism: The Professional's Approach is a large book in more ways than one. Sure, it's a hefty book at 512 pages, but it also has another kind of weight: the weight of responsibility. Photojournalism as a practice has an accountability that goes beyond judgment and values; the photojournalist becomes our eyes to the world, and must try and capture only the truth and not impose his or her own judgment on an event.

Photojournalism, now in its sixth edition, features interviews with leading professionals along with many examples of fine photojournalism. This latest edition has been revised to include international pictures and stories as well. This book contains everything from hard news to sports to features in its eighteen chapters.

Chapter 1, "Assignment," examines where most dramatic news stories come from. No, it's not from the city desk of some newspaper, but rather from the vigilant photographers who monitor the emergency scanners waiting for the next breaking situation. These photographers may just sit in their cars near a crossroads monitoring multiple scanners, hoping to be leaving the scene already by the time everyone else is just arriving. Also discussed in this chapter are other resources that can be used to track down news stories, including PR departments, websites, TV, and a good contact list.

Chapter 5, "Portraits," concerns the journalistic portrait. These are photographic essays that tell the story of a person. In this chapter, you see what it takes to put a person at ease so that his or her real personalities can emerge in front of the camera. Some of the tips offered include knowing when to talk and knowing when to listen, and even knowing when to bore the subject so that he or she stops posing and starts relaxing.

Chapter 7, "Photo Editing," takes the stance that when someone examines multiple images, he or she spends less than three-quarters of a second looking at an individual photo. The challenge becomes finding the right image out of hundreds – possibly thousands – of images that will communicate a story in a meaningful way. In this chapter you learn about theories of picture selection, research on reader preference, how to work with images, effects of cropping, working with space in an image, the size of image, and how to work with captions.

Chapter 11, "Photo Story," is about telling a story using pictures. This is the ultimate professional experience for many photojournalists. Some stories can take minutes to develop and others can take years. Here you learn how to communicate a story with pictures and words, including the different formats of photo stories, and the equipment that you will need to do things right. Also included in this chapter are a number of professional photo stories as examples.

Chapter 15, "Ethics," takes on best practices in photojournalism. Some of these are straightforward: get the shot, collect the info, and don't edit the content into something subjective. But there are other times where the lines are fuzzier. The first picture in this chapter is of a person who jumped from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Some papers ran the photo, others did not. Was it correct to run the photo? In this chapter, the author examines the foundations of ethical decision making through the National Press Photographers Association's code of conduct and case studies of real-life ethical dilemmas in photojournalism.

Chapter 18, "Turning Pro," looks at what it takes to make a living as a photojournalist. It's a tough business and one typically enters through one of two ways: as a staff photographer with a steady income and benefits or as a freelance photographer, a less restricted path but one needs to find someone to buy one's work. This chapter explores different ways to pursue a career in photojournalism.

The book also contains chapters on spot news, general news, features, sports, the camera bag, strobe, issues, multimedia, video, illustration, law, and history. There is even a section on the digital darkroom as well as a companion DVD that contains an hour-long documentary that takes you behind-the-scenes at Sports Illustrated to see the sports photo editors at work.

Photojournalism: The Professionals' Approach, simply put, is just awesome. It's a rather large book measuring 8.5" by 11", but it's incredibly well constructed and the pages feature high quality prints of full-color and black-and-white images. Keep in mind that these images are from real situations and some people may find certain images disturbing, but that's often an essential part of photojournalism.

If you are considering a career in photojournalism, even as a crime photographer, then Photojournalism is a must-have book. If you are interested in professional photography in general, then I can see this being a must-have book as it contains a wealth of information useful to anyone with a camera. I highly recommend this book to just about anyone with an interest in photojournalism.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

Check Also

Look by Viggo Mortensen

Book Review: ‘Look’ by Viggo Mortensen

'Look' by Viggo Mortensen reminds us to stop and not only look at the world around us but breathe in its beauty.