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Photojournalism: 5 Tips and Aids

Ruby writes from the Philippines. She teaches Campus Journalism and other courses in HEI. She enjoys reading and traveling as her pastimes.

Photojournalism uses photos to report news. It can also mean broadcast journalism video.

Photojournalism uses photos to report news. It can also mean broadcast journalism video.

What Is Photojournalism?

Photojournalism uses photos to report news. It can also mean broadcast journalism video. Photojournalism, unlike documentary, social documentary, war, street, and celebrity photography, has a stringent ethical framework that requires an honest but unbiased approach that presents a narrative in journalistic terms. Photojournalists provide news and link communities. They must be knowledgeable and innovative in delivering news.

1. Selecting Photographs

Ceciliano Cruz (2010) advises that when choosing a picture for publishing, keep the following two factors in mind:

  • Technical value – A photograph has technical value if it is clear, undistorted, and devoid of smudges.
  • Editorial value – It has news value when it conveys a narrative in a single glance, when it depicts life as it is occurring, at a crucial juncture, or when it captures a moment of significance.

Images in general, including pictures, serve five major purposes:

  1. To draw attention
  2. To illustrate a point in the text
  3. To tell a story on its own using captions
  4. To tell a story in order with other images
  5. To provide visual relief to the layout

2. Characteristics of a Good Photographer

A competent cameraman has to possess certain characteristics, skills, and attributes.

  • Should be familiar with equipment, including the camera, lens, and film;
  • Should have a basic understanding of art and possess an understanding of contrast, composition, angle, and shape;
  • Must possess a keen sense of drama, strangeness, rarity, action, and human interest tales;
  • Must be familiar with prominent as well as infamous figures who frequently make headlines;
  • When shooting perilous events like fires, riots, rallies, and protests, a photographer must have diplomacy and tact;
  • They also need to be familiar with the libel laws because lawsuits for libel can also be based on photographs.

3. Selecting, Scaling, and Captioning of Pictures

  • Photos should be cropped tightly to eliminate unnecessary details and to focus attention on their message.
  • Photo should not lie right next to a heavily shaded advertisement. {t will lose its impact if it is overshadowed by neighboring material.
  • Multicolumn photos as a rule should be in the upper left-hand comer of the page and should be displayed without overlines.
  • The crowded, posed photograph should be avoided, unless it has to get in. If you decide to use it, crop it tightly and blow it up.
  • Retouch whenever necessary.
  • Captions should be kept short.

4. Guidelines on the Proper Use of Photos

Ceciliano Cruz (2010) notes the following guidelines to observe when using photos:

  • Action photos are preferable to posed shots.
  • Avoid placing photographs back to back, that is, with two pictures facing the opposite way.
  • Steer clear of prepared photos, firing squads, and shooting lines. They're gone. prefer unposed photos. Life isn't staged. It is in use.
  • If you must utilize group photos, make them large enough that people can be identified in them, unless it's a setting with a lot of people and the expressions on their faces are less significant.
  • Even a disaster scene that merely shows the jet or the train catastrophe appears to be dead. It would be vibrant if people were fleeing from it or racing to help.
  • Images that are too small are useless. Impact and specifics are lost. Cropping would make the image better.
  • Cropping refers to eliminating anything that is superfluous or irrelevant to the narrative. Eliminate unimportant elements and concentrate on the crucial ones. For instance, the speaker might make a fist motion without using their body or other arms.
  • But watch out for excessive cropping. For greater perspective, one needs an overhanging branch in the foreground. A photograph capturing the desert's size was due for a man wandering about by himself.

5. Caption Writing Guidelines

Caption writing follows all newsprinting standards, including the follow:

  • Use 15-word phrases to write captions.
  • Every photo caption must answer Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Who's there? Why are they there? When?
  • Use complete Christian names or first names to accurately identify everyone in the photo. This is crucial but impossible for crowd scenarios. Be specific when naming persons in captions.
  • Caption a photo according to its mood or emotion. A sorrowful image shouldn't create lame jokes.


Cruz, C. J. (2010). Campus journalism and school paper advising. Sampaloc, Manila: Rex Bookstore, Inc.

Reddick, D.C. (1949). Journalism and the school paper. 4th ed. Boston: Harper.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ruby Campos