Photo Features

News Feature

A Culture in the Cross Hairs

‘It Makes Me Angry’: These Are the Jobless in a City Filled With Wealth

They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals

phillipinesHow Venezuela’s President Keeps His Grip on a Shattered Country

The Land That Failed to Fail

chinarulesEvent Coverage

In a Tiny Appalachian Village, a Beloved Festival Returns


A Woman’s Rights


Slice of Life

Fragile, Delicate, Free: Glimpses of Circus Life, at Sea

A Blind 78-Year-Old Magician Finds a New Stage: New York’s Subways

‘Nothing Has Really Changed’: In Moscow, the Fighting Is a World Away

The Magic of Your First Car

Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories

America’s split-screen pandemic: Many families resume their lives even as hospitals are overwhelmed


Day in the Life

On Patrol: 12 Days With a Taliban Police Unit in Kabul


A Year Under the Taliban

‘Everyone’s Looking for Plastic.’ As Waste Rises, So Does Recycling.


He Had a Dark Secret. It Changed His Best Friend’s Life.

Queen Elizabeth II: A Life in Photos


Every Building on Every Block: A Time Capsule of 1930s New York


Photo Series/Trends

The unbridled joy of dogs catching treats


Macro Photos of Kitchen Herbs

The Speed of 12 Olympians: Capturing Their Twists, Turns and Leaps in Fractions of a Second


Photo Illustration

Apocalypse When? Global Warming’s Endless Scroll



The Berlin Wall: 20 Years Later

Beyond the Stoop

3D & Augmented Reality

The Visions of Octavia Butler

Take a Tour of Lady Liberty’s Torch (Right This Second)


Navigation Styles

Pictory Magazine – Eat At Your Own Risk

Who Attended the President’s Inauguration

Hurricane Michael: One Mile of Devastation in Florida


Faces of an Epidemic


Slideshow elements

Signature Photo: A photo that summarizes the entire issue and illustrates essential elements of the story.

Establishing or Overall Shot: A wide-angle (sometimes even aerial) shot to establish the scene. The idea of the establishing shot is this: When you do a photo story you are taking the viewers on a journey. You need to give them a sense of where they are going, an image that allows them to understand the rest of the story in a geographic context.

Close-Up: A detail shot to highlight a specific element of the story. Close-ups, sometimes called detail shots, don’t carry a lot of narrative weight. Meaning, they often don’t do a lot to inform the viewer on a literal level but they do a great deal to dramatize a story. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to shoot lots of close-ups.

Portrait: This can be either a tight headshot or a more environment portrait in a context relevant to the story. Photo essays are built around characters. You need to have a good portrait that introduces the viewers to the character. I always shoot a variety of portraits, some candids and some posed.

Interaction: Focuses on the subject in a group during an activity. Images of your character interacting with others help give a human dimension to your character. Think about reactions too.

The Clincher: A photo that can be used to close the story, one that says “the end.” Essentially, our example is a process piece. What’s the end of the process?

Caption Writing Tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind from Poynter: Hot Tips for Writing Photo Captions

Avoid stating the obvious. “Dennis Rodman smiles as he kicks a broadcast photographer in the groin.”
Always identify the main people in the photograph.
Avoid making judgments. “An unhappy citizen watches the protest.”
Avoid using terms like “is shown, is pictured, and looks on.”
If the photograph is a historic or file photo, include the date that it was taken. Mayor David Dinkins,1993.
A photograph captures a moment in time. Whenever possible, use present tense. This will creates a sense of immediacy and impact.
Don’t try to be humorous when the picture is not.
Quotes can be an effective device, be willing to use them when they work.

Sequencing the Images:

  • When creating a photo slideshow, select a range of images that tell a story and have a narrative arc.
  • The intro image should capture the essence of the piece.
  • Subsequent images might be portraits of a people or objects that play a central role in the story. Use close ups, wide angle shots of people interacting with each other or with objects.
  • Consider the last image carefully: it should be an image that ties the piece together and entices your readers to read the article.

Writing the Captions:

  • The intro image should have a caption that contains information that tells us what the story is about.
  • The second caption should contain the condensed “nut graph” of the story which gives your audience the significance of the story.
  • Do not explain what is obvious in the image, but rather provide additional information that complements the picture.
  • Point out what a casual viewer might miss at first blush.
  • If there is a central character in the image, provide the who-what-where-when information.
  • For each of the above, consider the two following options:
    1. For some images, describe something telling in the image and then provide background info.
    2. For other images, provide background info and then describe something telling in the photo.
  • If a photo essay is running along side a story, have information in the captions that draws people to read the story.
  • You also have the ability to link to related articles from within the captions. I wouldn’t put in more than one link per caption.
  • Even though a couple of images might be repetitive (i.e., a portrait and then a close-up of the same person), include captions on both. Find a creative way to provide information without being repetitive.
  • Consider writing a subhead before each caption.

Photographer’s Rights

General guidelines (not to be considered legal advice)

1. You can make a photograph of anything and anyone on any public property, except where a specific law prohibits it. i.e. streets, sidewalks, town squares, parks, government buildings open to the public, and public libraries.

2. You may shoot on private property if it is open to the public, but you are obligated to stop if the owner requests it. i.e. malls, retail stores, restaurants, banks, and office building lobbies.

3. Private property owners can prevent photography ON their property, but not photography OF their property from a public location.

4. Anyone can be photographed without consent when they are in a public place unless there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. i.e. private homes, restrooms, dressing rooms, medical facilities, and phone booths.

5. Despite common misconceptions, the following subjects are almost always permissible:
* accidents, fire scenes, criminal activities
* children, celebrities, law enforcement officers
* bridges, infrastructure, transportation facilities
* residential, commercial, and industrial buildings

6. Security is rarely an acceptable reason for restricting photography. Photographing from a public place cannot infringe on trade secrets, nor is it terrorist activity.

7. Private parties cannot detain you against your will unless a serious crime was committed in their presence. Those that do so may be subject to criminal and civil charges.

8. It is a crime for someone to threaten injury, detention, confiscation, or arrest because you are making photographs.

9. You are not obligated to provide your identity or reason for photographing unless questioned by a law enforcement officer and state law requires it.

10. Private parties have no right to confiscate your equipment without a court order. Even law enforcement officers must obtain one unless making an arrest. No one can force you to delete photos you have made.

These are general guidelines regarding the right to make photos and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you need legal help, please contact a lawyer.

When confronted, threatened with detention or the confiscation of equipment, ask the following questions:

* What is your name?
* What is the name of your employer?
* May I leave? If not, what is the legal basis of my detention?
* If equipment is being demanded, what is the legal basis for the confiscation?

A few additional things to consider from John Smock.

Police often assume they have absolute authority to prevent pictures from being taken at any time (NYC law is intentionally vague in the subways system to give NYPD greater discretion). While they do not have absolute authority, it’s not a fight students are going to win through a showdown with a beat cop. Find a sergeant. Journalists should have the phone number for NYCDP DCPI with them.

You can shoot in the public part of a private business (the public area in a Starbuck’s or Modell’s) until you are asked to stop. You cannot photograph behind the counter or in the storage area.

Photographing children (more the the point, publishing photographs of children) without parental consent is legally problematic. School are often restricted in the same way hospitals are.

Taking images for publication as news is distinguished from taking pix for commercial purposes. If I photograph someone in a public (or private) place for news purposes, no prob. But, if I want to sell that same photo to an advertiser or for commercial purposes I need written permission for the person photographed and if it’s a private place from owner/manager.

Ethical Guidelines

The National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics

Visual journalists and those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding the following standards in their daily work:

  1. Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
  2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
  3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
  4. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
  5. While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
  6. Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
  7. Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.
  8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
  9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.

Photo-editing Do’s and Don’ts

Sac Bee: Case of the egret Sac Bee: Case of the egret

Sree’s Tips on Photo Ethics

Famous examples of digitally manipulated photos

Remember: Pay attention to original sources. This is not Sesame Street.

World Press Photo Winner Disqualified for Manipulation – Note that he did not get disqualified for the dramatic crop or grainy B&W, but for using the clone stamp tool to remove the foot from behind the hand.

Sample Guidelines: Reuters

Photoshop is a highly sophisticated image manipulation programme. We use only a tiny part of its potential capability to format our pictures, crop and size them and balance the tone and colour.

Materially altering a picture in Photoshop or any other image editing software will lead to dismissal.

– No additions or deletions to the subject matter of the original image. (thus changing the original content and journalistic integrity of an image)
– No excessive lightening, darkening or blurring of the image. (thus misleading the viewer by disguising certain elements of an image)
– No excessive colour manipulation. (thus dramatically changing the original lighting conditions of an image)

Only minor Photoshop work should be performed in the field. (Especially from laptops). We require only cropping, sizing and levels with resolution set to 300dpi. Where possible, ask your regional or global picture desks to perform any required further Photo-shopping on their calibrated hi-resolution screens. This typically entails lightening/darkening, sharpening, removal of dust and basic colour correction.

When working under prime conditions, some further minor Photo-shopping (performed within the above rules) is acceptable. This includes basic colour correction, subtle lightening/darkening of zones, sharpening, removal of dust and other minor adjustments that fall within the above rules. Reuters recommendations on the technical settings for these adjustments appear below. All photographers should understand the limitations of their laptop screens and their working environments.