After last week’s tirade about faxes and my love for modern technology, I thought an appropriate follow up, education wise, would be photos and how we use them at The Evening Sun.
The world has gone digital in photography too, folks. It seems like only yesterday one of my day-end chores here at the paper was to roll cartridges of film from the bulk loader for the reporters to use in their cameras the next day. Darkroom Dave and I are probably the only ones left who remember the charming scent of the developing room on Hale Street. Heck, most people probably wonder why I call him Darkroom Dave anymore – we don’t even have a darkroom anymore!
When we first got into the digital camera phase (my guinea pig reporters at the time called them ‘Toasters’ they were so bulky and awkward), they were expensive and uncommon. Quickly though, as technology is wont to do, digital photography got better, faster and cheaper. Nowadays, everyone and their brother has a digital camera. And we at The Evening Sun always encourage them to use it.
While each of my reporters and intrepid paparazzo Frank Speziale is armed with a high-end digital camera, we still can’t be everywhere at once (until they invent the transporter; I think we’re still a few years away from that). So, in those instances when we can’t staff an event, we encourage someone who’s going to be there to take their own digital photo and e-mail it to us.
Eight and a half times out of ten, the picture you take will be just as good as the one we would have taken, so it’s mutually advantageous for you to take your own. Especially if it’s a check passing photo, people. I don’t mind publishing them, really, but we groan every time we’re asked to take one, and most times won’t. Anyone with opposable thumbs can get a decent picture from a “grin and grab.” Please, have mercy on us and do those yourselves!
While digital photography is seemingly ubiquitous, we still encounter instances where the photos submitted aren’t useable, which is unfortunate, but easily prevented. Here’s a few simple things to keep in mind when you’re taking your own photo for publication:
• File size and resolution are key. In order for a photo to look good on newsprint, it’s got to be of the best digital quality possible. Set your camera to the maximum quality setting if you know how.
• Submit it in color. While we might have to change it to black & white on our end (it depends on where it will be placed in the paper), let us make that decision. As with any other kind of information, it’s best to give us too much than not enough.
• E-mail it to email@example.com. Sending photos to individual reporters is OK too, but they end up forwarding it to me anyway. I’m the one who does all the Photoshop magic here.
• Again, give us as much information as possible to go along with the photo. That includes complete and correct spelling of the names of the people pictured, and the details of the event.
• Cell phone photos are great for sharing with friends and family, but at this point in the game, the pictures are not good enough to print in the newspaper. Use a “real” digital camera.
• Auto focus is your friend. Use it.
• No matter how good I am at Photoshop, I cannot fix a picture in which the tops of everyone’s heads are cut off. Or one in which you were 100 yards away from your target. Get up close, and frame.
• If you’ve got a good photo of a non-planned event (i.e. a fire, accident or other natural disaster), please send it to us! Again, we can’t be everywhere, so help us out by participating if you can. If we use your photo, I’ll even give you a photo credit. Which would be your only payment; we can’t afford to buy photos.
• I can’t believe I still have to say this, but we still can’t, and never could, publish pictures that you’ve photocopied. Or faxed. Ditto for most home printers; the quality just isn’t good enough. Send us the original digital file.
• If for some reason you can’t e-mail a photo and have it on CD or a camera card, we can read those too if you bring them in. If you show up to our office with a floppy disk in hand, I will ask you to return to 1995.
Those are just a few simple tips off the top of my head. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you fax me, I’ll cry.
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