A vital part of a news assignment is the written
information that accompanies the photographs.
Excellent photographs with tremendous impact could
go unused if you do not provide adequate identifying
information. Take a notebook with you on each
assignment and write down information to answer the
What was the event that took place?
Who was involved in the event? Write down
the names in correct order (from the left) as the
people appear in the photograph. Do not hesitate to
ask for correct spelling of peoples names. Titles or
positions of people should also be obtained.
Where did the event take place?
When did the event take place? Write down
the time and date.
Why did the event take place?
How did the event take place?
When these questions are answered, a news
photograph has adequate accompanying identifica-
Feature assignments and accompanying text can
be divided into categories of feature picture, picture
sequence, picture story, and picture essay.
Because speed in publishing a feature assignment
is not usually a critical factor, a more in-depth report
of an event or story is possible. Ideally, before
starting a feature assignment, you should compile a
shooting script. A shooting script is a written guide
for planning the coverage of a story. The picture
ideas in a shooting script are ideas only. They should
not repress the photographer shooting photographs.
Seldom are the ideas in a script identical to the actual
photographs. A script allows you to previsualize an
entire feature story. Important aspects are emphasized
because you have already pinpointed the main features
you plan to cover. To plan an effective shooting
script, you must research the subject matter
Research is gathering facts on the history,
present-day proceedings, and intended projections of
the subject matter that you plan to feature. This may
involve trips to the library, checking your own files,
interviewing people, and so on. It is difficult to create
a picture story that stirs emotions when you know
nothing about the subject. With research, you should
acquire an insight on the subject that helps you to
present an effective in-depth story.
On any assignment, you should be aware of
potential "spin-off" stories. Concentrate on the
assignment for which you were tasked, but write down
ideas or "leads" to new stories.
A feature picture is a single picture that tells a
story. It could be a color or black-and-white print or
a transparency. It is quite possible that the end
product will be used in the print media, in the
electronic media, as an advertisement (recruiting, for
example), as a news feature, or for photographic
A feature picture serves a single purposeto tell a
story quickly and clearly. A "feature picture" is
defined as any picture, other than instantaneous news,
that informs, entertains, or provokes a reaction or
The goal of a feature picture is to communicate.
Without the power to communicate an idea or feeling,
the finest quality print and prolonged hours of work
are reduced to a mere sheet of photographic paper.
Whether it is your goal to become an artist, technical
photographer, or photojournalist, the finished product
must be of professional quality. It is this quality that
helps transmit the message that you worked to
No doubt, the feature photos that inform are the
most common. This is the photo you see on the front
page of a newspaper, the one that shows Miss
America receiving her crown, or the flooded
Mississippi River as it overflows its banks. These are
informative pictures that have lost some of the
hurry-up, rush-rush of a hard (straight) news photo.
When a feature picture is used to entertain, it
usually depicts the lighter side of life. It does not
require the full attention of the reader to get the
message; for example, children and animals in funny