situations, such as a small boy trying to give a St.
Bernard a bath in a washtub. Just the idea conjures
up images of soap and water everywhere. This is the
kind of photograph that is explicit, and when the
quality is good, it transmits the message effortlessly.
A feature picture can be used to provoke an
action, to excite someone, or to create a feeling. Here
the message is strong and emotional. The
photographer has a particular feeling he or she wishes
to bring out in the reader. This is the type of picture
that moved Congress to pass laws prohibiting child
labor (fig. 1-2).
Defining a feature picture is fundamental; the
process you will find complicated is researching the
subject. Once the originator of an assignment
provides the photographer with an idea of the kind of
pictures desired, it is up to you, as the photographer,
to perform the necessary research.
The photographer should ask the following
questions: "What are the requirements of the
assignments? What is the end product going to
beblack-and-white or color, prints, or
transparencies? What are the size requirements of the
pictures, as well as in what publication, if any, will
they be used? Where is each photograph to be
usedas a cover by itself or in connection with other
photographs for a story? Will the prints be used in an
exhibition or placed on display somewhere"?
Only through research can you answer the many
questions pertaining to the assignment. Thorough
research will provide the necessary details you need to
plan the shooting and to bring together all the
necessary elements of the photographs.
Making Feature Pictures
Making feature pictures may require elaborate
technical effort and unusual compositions, yet it may
be simple. When you produce feature pictures, you
must work carefully and take time to consider and
evaluate your approach. Unlike a news assignment, a
feature picture assignment permits you to exercise
more control over the situation. You are better able
to control the subject, lighting, and composition.
To be a good photojournalist, you must use
correct composition to make the message clear that
your picture is meant to get across. The position of
the subject, the highlight and shadow areas, the use of
leading lines, and the foreground and background
must be controlled to best tell the story. When the
picture elements are arranged, you must think of what
is included, what is missing, and what is suggested.
To dramatize an idea for a feature picture, you
have many tools to work with. Knowing your subject
and subject selection are significant. Imaginative
lighting can be used to create a mood. Many
photographers take full advantage of fast lenses and
fast film to use available light.
For a feature picture to have more impact, you
may find it necessary to distort or accentuate the
perspective with various focal-length lenses. The
camera position is also important. You can use a
distant panoramic shot to set the scene and a closeup
shot to emphasize significant detail. Shooting from a
low camera angle adds stature to the subject. A high
camera angle creates a sense of separation; it shows
more of what is happening.
The control you exercise over the scene can add
interest and variety to feature pictures. Electronic
flash and fast-shutter speeds can "freeze" action and
"stop" what is too fast for the eye to see. By using
the right application of slow-shutter speeds, you can
blur moving objects, giving an illusion of movement
to your pictures. Time exposures of moving lights
create motion patterns, as does panning the camera
with the subject. The serious photojournalist also
skillfully controls depth of field.
For publications, you want to deliver the best
full-toned, normal print to the printer that is possible.
This means that the print must have full highlight and
shadow detail. The print must be of proper density,
never so light or so dark that it loses detail. Contrast
should always be normal, unless the subject matter
requires higher or lower contrast. Printing in a
newspaper, book, or magazine tends to increase the
contrast of a photograph; and it often becomes darker.
A display print, on the other hand, is viewed directly
and does not go through the lithographic process.
But, here again, the best possible print must be made
with detail in highlights and shadows. It must have
proper contrast and density and be dust- and spot-free.
It is important for you to know how the photograph is
going to be viewed