Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Photojournalism (3): Elements of lines and shapes

Lines are the most basic component of a photographic image, and can be classified into two ways - physical lines, and imaginary lines of force and direction.

Physical lines

These lines are those that exist in the empirical world like painted lines on the streets or on the basketball court, the lines on a piece of paper and the bare branches of a tree suffering under summer’s merciless sun ... I know, I know, it’s such a corny line!

Imaginary lines of force and direction

This kind of lines exists only in our minds
like the rows of CAT cadets in a fancy drill competition below, the direction in which persons look, like these guys and girls all looking at the little girl with the pig tails at the extreme left, the dancers looking towards to the right; the direction in which moving objects travel, the imaginary lines created when we divide something up like a very real, very delicious pizza..

Rizal High School fancy drill competition 1995; vertical lines express movement and dynamism; photo by Atty. Galacio
Rizal High School Musical Theater 1993; imaginary lines of direction; photo by Atty. Galacio
Rizal High School 1995; imaginary lines of direction; photo by Atty. Galacio(Please take note that the pictures I will be posting to illustrate this series on photojournalism are more than a decade old, and thus leave a lot to be desired in terms of quality. I shot all these pictures using my Canon AE-1 Program camera and mostly Kodak Tri-X film. This film is reportedly the favorite of Sebastiao Salgado, considered as the world’s best photojournalist.)

Psychological effects of lines

Lines have profound psychological effects on the viewers;
for example, pictures containing horizontal lines evoke feelings of serenity, stability, while vertical lines have a sense of energy, grandeur. Diagonal lines, like those in the picture of the marching cadets above (the crossbands on their uniforms, their rifles, their left legs thrusting forward in cadence) express movement and dynamism.

Rizal High School Main Bldg 1995; psychological effects of lines; photo by Atty. Galacio Element of shape

Lines when joined together create two-dimensional shapes like circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, polygons, etc.
Shapes attract our attention first and foremost whenever we look at photographs. Everyday objects are rich sources of shapes; some shapes will be obvious like the painted circle in the middle of the gymnasium below, and the water hose (very first picture above).

Lines and shapes; photo by Atty. GalacioPhotography and pizza

Tim Burton is the world famous director of such movies as “Edward Scissorhands”, “Beetlejuice,” and “Batman” parts 1 and 2. One time, while he was doing post-production work on the Batman 2 movie, he got hungry so he ordered out for some pizza. He got a mild surprise when upon opening the box, he found several pictures on top of the pizza.

The pizza delivery guy, named John Pezzota if I remember right, was a struggling photographer working part time at a pizza joint to support himself. When he found out that it was Tim Burton who was ordering the pizza, he took a chance by placing some of his black and white pictures in the pizza box.

Well, Tim Burton did like the pizza, and the photographer’s dark somber style which suited Batman 2’s moody atmosphere. The result? The photographer got the job of shooting the movie posters of Batman played by Michael Keaton and Catwoman played by Michelle Pffeifer. Cowabunga!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Photojournalism (2): Elements of photojournalism, with videos

Elements of photojournalism (from Wikipedia)


(1) Timeliness — the images have meaning in the context of a recently published record of events.

(2) Objectivity — the situation implied by the images is a fair and accurate representation of the events they depict in both content and tone.

(3) Narrative — the images combine with other news elements to make facts relatable to the viewer or reader on a cultural level.

Relevant articles on photojournalism


The Definition of Photojournalism: Looking at Ethics in Photojournalism; Basic Principles of Photojournalism; Photojournalism Careers: Looking at Photojournalism Degree Requirements; Photojournalism Photography: Capturing Events (Pre-Shooting); Preparing for Your First Shoot as a Photojournalist

Relevant resources on photojournalism


A Photojournalist’s Field Guide: In the Trenches with Stacy Pearsall (58 sample pages; 6.97 MB); Photojournalism Curriculum Guide – Texas Association of Journalism Educators (16 pages; 119.84 KB); Photojournalism history (42 slides; 36.33 MB); History of Photojournalism - Legacy Student Media (34 slides; 2.91 MB); Photojournalism in the U.S. and Germany: A Comparative View (44 slides; 2.92 MB)

Photojournalism videos


Elements of Photojournalism



The history of photojournalism by David Hoffman



7 Photojournalism Tips by Reuters Photographer Damir Sagolj (Thomson Reuters Foundation)



The Power of Photojournalism







Photography Techniques: Photojournalism Tips From Ed Kashi (Advancing Your Photography)



Documentary Photography: Tips & Advice by Daniel Milnor (Advancing Your Photography)



The Best Of Photography Awards Pulitzer, World Press



“Pencil vs. Camera” project by Ben Heine View all photos from “Pencil vs. Camera” project