“I never set up a picture, I’m a photojournalist, I shoot life as it happens”. “Posing and direction in photography destroys the reality of the event and is dishonest or unethical!” “I take pictures, I don’t make pictures!” We have all heard or stated ale above at one time or an-other.
Photojournalism is usually considered by its practitioners to be the capturing of the decisive moment, the essence of the event, the candid occurrence without any interference direction or posing from the photojournalist. In other words picture taking.
Picture “making” was relegated to the still life, portrait’ commercial, advertising, industrial, etc. photographers. Is photojournalism strictly picture taking or is there a place for picture making? I feel a better question is, did the photograph communicate the intended purpose?
Too often we attempt to excuse our bad photography by stating that we had no control of the situation, we were being unobtrusive, not interfering with the reality of the event of course we also failed to communicate but we excuse ourselves with the fact that we didn’t direct or suggest or pose anything.
Somehow I don’t think the customer is going to be interested in your journalistic integrity, etc. They wanted a picture and you failed to deliver.
As visual communicators our obligation is to provide to our customers, photographs which satisfy their requirements. If it is a news events, we go and “take” pictures, if it is a feature or other requirement we may have to “make” the picture.
Considering that much of what we do as military photojournalists falls into the feature, annual report- style photography it is important that we all know how to “make” pictures.
As professional communicators we must be able to accept an often-ambiguous request from a customer and develop a concept, which will illustrate that request. Then using our professional expertise produce a story telling photograph. The key is to be able to analyze and ascertain the best way (at least in your mind) of telling the story. Then using your skills you go out and literally “make” the picture.
A side benefit to “making” pictures is that when you are covering an uncontrolled event you will find that you will “make” better photos even through you are “taking” them.
“Make”, “Take”, it really doesn’t matter. As professionals we should be able to “make or take” depending on the situation of the moment. Mastery of both is essential to today’s working photojournalists. -KLH-