Photojournalism is a merger of still photography
and written language into a coherent communication
medium. The Navy photojournalist is a reporter who
uses a camera and written text to convey a message to
the intended audience. This message is usually spread
by newspapers, magazines, and other publications.
Photographs and words used together can provide a
complete and accurate report of an event or story.
Some events that occur in the Navy are planned far in
advance so you have plenty of time to prepare for the
assignment. Other events unfold quickly and
dramatically and afford little or no preparation.
Stories range from the obvious to those that are
created with a considerable amount of imaginative
work by a photojournalist. The foremost requirements
for a successful photojournalist are to master the
equipment and have the equipment ready to use. You
cannot concentrate on an assignment if you are trying
to learn how to use a camera. An important event
will go unrecorded when you are fumbling and
A photojournalist must use imagination to
accomplish an assignment. Not all assignments have
a great inherent human interest value, and the less
spectacular the subject matter, the more important the
photojournalists imagination becomes. Often, a
novice photojournalist misses good photographs
because of a lack of aggressiveness. Frequently, Navy
photojournalists are tasked to photograph notable
personalities of diversified backgrounds. Always
respect your subjects, regardless of who they are, but
never feel inferior.
The assignments of a Navy photojournalist can be
divided into two groups:
Spot-news photography denotes coverage of
current news events and has a strong requirement of
immediacy. What happens today of importance
should be recorded and reported as soon as possible.
Conversely, a feature assignment should
emphasize the human interest aspect of an event or
story and ideally be as interesting to an audience next
year as today.
A sharp dividing line does not separate spot-news
photographs horn feature photographs. In fact, most
spot-news events can provide feature possibilities.
Likewise, some feature stories may have strong spot
news appeal. A good photojournalist should always
consider possible "spin-off" stories that may exist.
Spot news is an event that happens without
warning and, in many ways, is the most difficult event
to photograph-an accident, a plane crash, a fire or
tornado-even the unexpected arrival of the CNO
aboard your ship. Regardless of the situation, you
will be working at top speed and under the pressure of
a deadline. Success of your photography is dependent
upon how well you handle your equipment, arrange
your time, and do your research. Most experienced
photographers agree that spot-news photography is
one of the most difficult and nerve-shattering
assignments. Why is that? It is perhaps the very
nature of what the photographer is faced with, rapid
occurring events, little time, and the need to "get the
A spot-news photograph is used to relate a story
about a significant event to the public in a direct,
straightforward, factual, and realistic manner while the
event is still newsworthy. The spot-news photograph
often shows conflict, tragedy, or emotion. It is not
possible to do the research before you begin shooting;
you will already be involved in getting the photos.
Ask questions afterwards. See the official at the
scene; obtain names and other pertinent information.
Remember to get a telephone number or address of
anyone connected with the situation. It may become
necessary to obtain additional information at a later
time. Because of the excitement or emotion involved,
the possibility of getting erroneous information is
greater at the scene than it is afterwards (fig. 1-1).