Cooling off–Here’s a typical feature picture you might see in a newspaper especially when it’s the first day of summer when it’s over 100Â°F. I found this woman lying down in the shade waiting for her bus. Ask for permission first, or take the picture first? There are no hard and fast rules. If possible, I always take the picture first simply because the moment will be gone if you don’t. Spontaneous moments are ruined if you ask first. When discovered, come clean. It always works out better instead of trying to sneak away without any explanation. You’ll risk having the cops called on you especially if there are kids involved.
It’s those hot summer days like today that I don’t miss being at the newspaper.
I used to drive aimlessly looking for Â feature pictures.
Add today’s price of gasoline, multiply by the number of photographers on staff and you’ll get the idea of the cost of a picture that may never get published.
The Hunt for Wild Art
What is a feature picture?
The reporters could not come up with a news story worthy of the cover.
So they had lots of room and no news to fill the paper with.
And the thinking of the editors or word folks?
Surprised–A student shrieks as a radio station promotional person dressed in a space suit surprises her on the campus of Pomona College. Pictures of this sort take lots of patience, anticipation and a healthy dose of luck. They happen when they happen. No â€œdo-overs.â€
A bad picture displayed big takes up more room than a bad pseudo news story.
Inevitably I would drive by the same old parks to see if anyone was out and about.
English playwright Noel Coward wrote “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”
Actually he probably didn’t know about newspaper photographers.
The worse part about this aimless driving around is that the pictures I turned in had no shelf-life.
So all summer long, this cycle repeated itself: cruise around, look for pictures that sometimes wouldn’t get published at all.
Water play–By the end of summer, I must have shot this picture so many times the kids recognized my car when I drove by. My old photography professor used to be very mean whenever we turned in a picture with kids. He said, â€œPictures of kids are a dime a dozen.â€ It explains why I’m a pauper.
Weapon of Choice
When I’m driving around, I usually had:
- one camera body with a 300 mm lens
- another body with a 70-200 mm lens
I always set the exposure for ISO 100 1/1000 sec @ f4 for subjects out in the full sunlight.
If they were in partial shade, I’d adjust it on-the-fly, opening up the aperture or dropping the shutter speed accordingly.
Okay, there’s bound to be one or two of you, my intelligent audience, reading this asking,
â€œWhy is Peter, a professional photographer going out in the middle of the day looking for pictures?
Doesn’t he know that’s the worse time to be looking for pictures?â€
Short answer: if he wants to keep his job, he’ll do as he’s told?
Midday is the worse time to be looking for a picture unless you happen to be looking for the picture below which I found in Buffalo, NY.
Musical notes–At least this is what I thought when I first saw these birds resting on wires on the side of a grain silo. Because the grain silos are cylindrical, the overhead noon sun made curved shadows on the silo walls. ISO 400 1/2000 sec @ 5.6. Kodak Tri-X film.
Identifying People in Pictures
Taking the picture is just a small part of coming back with a usable picture.
Sometimes the person you photograph doesn’t want to give me their name, no matter how I cajoled them.
Most newspapers won’t use a picture when the photographer cannot provide the name of the person in the picture.
Getting their name is like getting consent to use their picture.
Needless to say, it’s happened to me enough times that I’ve been told I can charm a rat into giving up his coat.
Of course I’ve also been skunked like the time I photographed a couple smooching in the park.
Having noticed the wedding bands on their fingers, I made the assumption they were husband and wife.
Oh..yes, they were married, but not to each other. Needless to say, I sheepishly moved on.