We’ve gone on time and time again about how we need to be jack-of-all-trades journalists. (As well as having a specialism – we don’t ask for much, eh?!) And I mentioned way back in October that I was taking a module in photojournalism this year.
At the time, I naively said: “I firmly believe that not only can any hack take photos, but I believe they should be taking photos too.”
Well, now I take it all back. While I did really enjoy the module, it was really hard work. But I’m not say we should steer clear of photojournalism because it’s hard. That’s ridiculous. Everything is a challenge when you first start out. And I’m definitely not a quitter.
However, I do think that there are some situations where it’s better to let the experts take charge. Namely things like performing life-saving surgery. Or fixing my poor car. And now, a recent addition to my list, (having spent twelve painful weeks trying to master the skill) taking photos for newspapers, magazines or online publications.
Now, I gave photojournalism my best shot. I went out so many times to try and get pictures but so many times I came back with disappointing results. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I set my standards too high or I’m actually just a really bad photographer. But no matter how hard I tried every set I took would have one major thing wrong with them: a white balance that wasn’t right, really bad composition across my shots or even just something creeping into my pictures that shouldn’t be there.
For example, one of the things I took photos of for my assignment was a gig. And it proved to be an utter nightmare. The lights meant that the white balance was off, so photos had people having turned some very interesting colours. Also, because of the stage lights, the auto-focus on my camera (my beloved Olympus E450) couldn’t auto-focus, which meant I had to rely on manual focus, which not only was hard to judge in the lighting conditions but also was easily knocked leaving horribly out of focus shots. Oh and just to really throw a spanner into the works, when a band is playing they don’t exactly pose for photos so once I saw a good shot I had to get it immediately or it would be gone, or someone’s head would pop up and get in the way.
And it’s that need for immediacy and accuracy in taking photographs that leads me to think maybe it is a job best done by the specialists. Yes, I came out with half a dozen pretty decent shots out of the hundred-odd I took. But a trained photojournalist would be coming out with a hundred-odd decent shots. Maybe we should reconsider our jack of all trades approach and start becoming a master at some?
Oh and, in case you wanted a good laugh at my expense, here’s two of my photos that prove some things are best left to the experts:No url attribute defined!
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look