A Good Photo Speaks A Thousand Words

25 09 2011

In Sudipta Shaw’s “The Secrets of Storytelling Photography” it says a photo should contain at least one of mood, narration, emotion, idea and message.  It can be argued that any photo contains at least one of these elements, however that doesn’t always mean those photos are used well.  In the case of ABC News I think their use of photos to complement storytelling is pretty good.

A key photo of a news website is the one accompanying the top news story on the home page.  At the time of writing the top story is of the two U.S. hikers released from Iran arriving back to America.  This photo carries almost all of the elements Shaw described.  Just by looking at the photo you can see that the men look weak, shattered and scruffy but despite that you can also tell they are happy and relieved.  This one image can make you think about the awful time they spent in an Iranian jail wondering about if they were ever going to get out.  On the other hand it can make you think about how happy they are to get home and the excitement of the pending family reunion.  A good photo can make you look at both what happened before and what may happen next.

I also particularly liked the above photo which featured in the story about the Nevada casino shooting which left a Hells Angel leader dead.  As well as having all the key elements like emotion, narrative, etc, there is something quite humorous about the photo in the way supposedly big, tough, fearsome Hells Angels have been reduced to almost like cowering schoolkids by the police.

Another good photo is the above from the plane crash in Nepal that killed 19 people including two Americans.  It highlights so much about the scale of the incident, the location (ie – remoteness) of where it happened, the seemingly helplessness of the people just standing around with hands on their hips.

The one thing about ABC’s photo usage I didn’t like was where they promoted their photo slideshows for the more light-hearted/celebrity stories.  The above example of “Uma Thurman Wears Bizarre Outfit” is part of a slideshow with other “stars” who have worn strange things.  By all means put these in the Entertainment section or Other News section.  ABC though have them in the same list of news as the Nepal Air Crash and the other latest headlines of the day.  What’s worse is alongside the headline “Uma Thurman Wears Bizarre Outfit” it specifies it is a photo section by having “PHOTO” in red letters which immediately grabs your attention over the “proper” news.  Which is a shame if the good storytelling news photos are overshadowed by opportunistic paparazzi pictures with no real significance.

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2 responses

25 09 2011
ysalimi

I enjoyed how you pointed out that a photo should convey mood, narration, emotion, idea and/or a message. That is what I look for in a photo that accompanies a story or even a photo story itself. Whether it be a single photo or multiple photos, there must be some feeling there.

26 09 2011
jthomp72

I understand what you are saying about putting the more frivolous news stories in their own separate category, but I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that those types of stories are exactly what the American public wants, and it drives traffic to the website if they do that. Sad state of affairs isn’t it

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