For the combination of pictures with written information has been coined a new term “Photo journalism”. Today newspapers are as dependent on photographs as they are on news stories, features, columns, interviews and editorials, etc. Photograph not only supplement text, but also enhance and extend it by highlighting and pressing upon the readers important points and make it easier for the reader to build up a picture of what he or she is reading about. Another important function of pictures in newspaper is to attract readers attention towards a particular information for achieving a special effect.
During the 1920 when pictures became part and parcel of newspapers and magazines, experiments were carried out on transmission of photographic image by wire According to Warran’ Phillip and Edwin (1985), the first photos sent by wire were transmitted from the Associated Press which had established its wire photo network on January 1, 1935 Distribution of wire photos enabled the newspapers to publish pictures from other cities only a few hours after they were taken.
The invention of television has considerably affected the print media because television has obvious advantages in many respects over newspapers and magazines. But arrival of colour pictures in print media has somewhat balanced the superiority of television. The enhanced interest in photographic communication has opened new avenues for making business in newspapers and magazines. Photographers now contribute pictures in the development of photographic essays and interpretative picture stories. Friday magazines of newspapers are feature oriented rather than news oriented which publish mostly colour photographs for articles, fashion essays etc. This trend has attracted freelance photographers to do business.
From the communication point of view every picture is not worth a thousand words. Rather those principles matter that qualify a picture for publication in the press. According to Warran, Phillip and Edwin “photograph is capable of high fidelity reproduction of very fine detail and texture. A skilfully made photograph can communicate the essence of factual experience. It can be controlled to represent a subject in various perspectives determined by photographer as he or she selects a particular lens and the camera-subject relationship for the picture. Black and white photographers have almost unlimited control on representing the original subject in shades of gray and extreme black and white. Thus the photographer’s technical’ skin and mental attitude influence the picture that is taken”
Grouping and position of people and main object in the picture form a pleasing shape. It is to be the most eye-catching picture but it is of no use if such picture is
not balance with news stories. There must be sufficient contrast in tone between dark and light for a picture to reproduce properly. Lack of tonal values can produce a gray effect on printing.
Characteristics of Photo Journalism
Pictures in newspapers have not only added to the get up of a newspaper but they have also increased the readership. The combination of picture with words has enabled the journalists to present all facts in a clearer and effective way.
Following are the characteristics of photo journalism.
Accuracy and impact ‘
Picture can explain a situation or event accurately with greater impact whereas words lack this characteristic. For example, a news story of bomb blast in Egyption Embassy killing 20 people, might not create that much impact as it can if the same story is explained with pictures of the incident.
Readers can understand maximum details of an event through a picture in a minimum time as compared to a wordy news story.
Clarity and Completeness
An image with added words becomes a package that assures clear communication.
Makes newspaper more interesting
Although headlines, layout and make-up techniques in newspapers are used for eye-catching but when these are added with pictures, they make the newspaper more interesting for the readers.
Pictures are Entertaining
Newspapers publish pictures on a variety of subjects for the gratification of all segments of society. So publication of pictures on weather change, unusual events, women, fashion, etc. becomes a source of entertainment for the readers.
Following are the most common kinds of journalistic photos:-
News Events Pictures
Pictures of this kind relate to events of hard news stories, such as accidents, murder or any other tragedy etc.
Pictures of events that have already been scheduled such as press conference, 23rd March event, etc.
Feature story accommodates many pictures so as to provide maximum entertainment to the readers. Feature pictures are close to life and nature. The scope of feature pictures is very vast. These include children, women, old people, animals, birds, buildings, mountains and seas, etc.
In photo journalism, sports pictures hold a unique position. Sports news without pictures are incomplete. Sports pictures present action and style which usually become the sole constituent of the news.
News worthy personality pictures are usually published in newspapers and magazines. While taking pictures of a news worthy personality, photographer must concentrate on the specific impression of the personality so that the audience can understand him/her immediately.