l Know how to use the camera. Your camera is a
mechanical device that only sees a limited area
and exercises no selection over the action that
takes place in front of it. As a photojournalist, you
can use this limited view to exclude extraneous
subject matter and to focus on your message. You
do this by determining which lens, camera angle,
lighting method and timing will capture the photo-
graph that will best communicate your story.
This chapter introduces you to photojournalism and
covers some of the techniques by which it is applied.
Maximum emphasis is placed on achieving good
photographic composition, interest, impact and
technical quality. Granted, the basic information
contained here is not sufficient to qualify you as a Navy
photojournalist in the strictest sense. However, if you
learn and use this material, you can become a proficient
news photographer and an asset to the public
information efforts of your command.
HISTORY OF MILITARY
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Describe the
history of military photojournalism.
The history and growth of military photojournalism
has been brief, but significant. It started when Matthew
Brady and his assistants were commissioned to
document the Civil War pictorially. Their photographs
were made on wet plates that had to be processed
immediately, thus limiting mobility. The film they used
was of low sensitivity; therefore, action photography
was out of the question. Further, there was no means to
get the photographs to the publisher quickly, so interest
was limited. No processes for reproducing a photograph
in a newspaper were known at that time, except by
having an artist copy them into line drawings. These
problems did not destroy the desire for photographs or
the value of photojournalism as it existed then, but rather
posed challenges to cause people to search for a better
way to use the photographs taken.
By the time of the Spanish-American War (and the
equally important Hearst-Pulitzer circulation war),
camera equipment had evolved into a smaller, portable
form. Film on an unbreakable cellulose base had been
invented that could be exposed in one place and
processed many miles away and many hours later. Film
sensitivity had improved so that action could be
photographed. Quicker transportation meant more
timely delivery of news photographs to the publisher,
while their news value was still high. Methods of photo-
engraving, though still crude, allowed newspapers to
print several halftones along with etchings and linecuts.
Military photographers took many photographs
during World War I, but the importance of these
photographs as an adjunct to the written history of the
war was not realized for many years.
The period between the World Wars was very
important to photojournalism. Plaything photography
yielded to more exacting photography as a science.
Cameras designed for presswork became available in a
price range within the budget of the average newspaper.
The sound motion picture, the miniature camera, the fast
lens, the flash lamp, flash synchronization, and hundreds
of film, emulsion and laboratory innovations were put
to use. Most important, the public desired news photo-
graphs and editors accepted photography as a tool of
World War II saw news photography in the military
services rise considerably. Early in the war, the services
drafted professional photographers and formed teams to
document the history of United States international
involvement. They went one step further by using their
talents to show the horrors of war. They took photo-
graphs with stopping power, photographs that had
impact and photographs that forced the viewer to look
and read the copy.
By the time of the Korean War, photography rose
above an improved and exacting science and became a
finer skill. Photographers began to document moods and
feelings, to look for photographs that expressed what
was not readily apparent on the surface and to con-
centrate on photographs for news releases. It was during
this period that the military photojournalist became a
During the Vietnam War years, photography
continued its advances in equipment and processes.
Along with these advances, photojournalism reached
new heights, providing just short of a you were there
atmosphere of the war. Today, the military photo-
journalist is a mainstay of the military establishment
a vital contributor to the internal and external public
affairs efforts of a command.
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Identify the
elements of photographic coverage.
Photographic coverage is invaluable in most
publications. Through effective layout, photographs can
be used independently as lead stories with merely a
cutline accompanying them. In other uses, photographs