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Shooting a subject over and over? Take a different approach each time. (Photocritique).

Among the most common problems in organizational photojournalism is having to shoot the same kinds of subject matter over and over again. A numbing redundancy usually sets in. f every picture starts looking like every other picture, readers will quickly lose interest.

If organizational editors and photographers want to avoid visual redundancy, they must look for new ways to deal with old subjects. I find this to be true in my personal travel photojournalism as well. Since 2001, I've visited more than 10 countries in search of fresh pictures that say something about the places I visit and the people I meet along the way. I am constantly challenged to bring a fresh approach to subjects that keep coming up again and again.

For example, wherever I travel these days, I see people guarding things. Security is everywhere we look. Some photographers might think that once you've seen one guard, you've seen them all, so all of their "guard" pictures would be virtually the same. Only the faces would change.

I don't agree with that approach. On these pages I show you four pictures I've made of people guarding things. I think each image tells an entirely different story.

Your own subject matter may differ from my examples, but how I vary my own approach can easily be applied to your own content as well: what I shoot is not as important as how or why I shoot it.

In the first picture (lower left), a stoic sentry guards the 19th-

Philip N. Douglis, ABC, is director of The Douglis Visual Workshops, now in its 32nd year of training communicators in visual literacy. Douglis, an IABC Fellow, is the most widely known consultant on editorial photography fur organizations. He offers a comprehensive six-person Communicating with Pictures workshop every May and October in Oak Creek Canyon, near Sedona, Ariz. For current openings and registration information, call Douglis at +1 602.493.6709, or e-mail him at pnd1@con.not. He also welcomes tear sheets for possible use in this column. Send to: The Douglis Visual Workshops, 2505 E. Carol Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85028, USA. View his portfolios of travel photojournalism en the web at worldisround.com/home/pnd1/index.html. century governor's palace in Florianopolis, Brazil. To me, the point of this picture is "living history." His costume is authentic and archaic. On his rifle is a lethal bayonet, incongruously as long as a sword. To emphasize those incongruities, I moved as close to him as I dared. The el egant grand staircase and tiled floor in the background add context for meaning.

The second example (upper left) features a guard on duty at the base of Rio de Janeiro's monumental statue of Christ at the pinnacle of Corcovado Mountain. Instead of just describing the appearance of this guard, I attempt to visually define his job--to protect. Only in this case, instead of describing the vast statue itself, I portray him simply guarding two of the children visiting this Brazilian national landmark. He stares authoritatively at us, while the children are preoccupied with other concerns--bringing a surprising twist to an otherwise predictable situation.

The third example (lower right) demonstrates an entirely different way to photograph security people, who do more than just stand on guard. They often must communicate with each other and their supervisors. I photographed two security guards being briefed by a manager in the lobby of Montevideo's Congress Building. I also contrast the guards' costumes to the clothing of their manager and the 19th-century figures portrayed on the wall above them.

I shot my final example (left) only moments after coming ashore at Bering Island, on Russia's far eastern frontier. A young border guard was peering at me from behind his military vehicle. I filled my frame with mud and rust, which, to me, helped define the nature of the ruggedly primitive island he guards. His youthful figure is small in comparison to his massive conveyance. His expression is a mixture of curiosity and shyness, an incongruous attitude for a border guard.

In each of these four photographs, I've tried to go beyond just showing what these guards look like. Instead, I'm trying to tell you who they are, and what they do. In the process of doing this, I can bring critical variety to what otherwise might have been a redundant series of pictures.

Philip N. Douglis, ABC, is director of The Douglis Visual Workshops, now in its 32nd year of training communicators in visual literacy. Douglis, an IABC Fellow, is the most widely known consultant on editorial photography for organizations. He offers a comprehensive six-person Communicating with Pictures workshop every May and October in Oak Creek Canyon, near Sedona, Ariz. For current openings and registration information, call Douglis at +1 602.493.6709, or e-mail him at pnd1@cox.net. He also welcomes tear sheets for possible use in this column. Send to: The Douglis Visual Workshops, 2505 E. Carol Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85028, USA. View his portfolios of travel photojournalism on the web at worldisround.com/home/pnd1/index.html.
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Author:Douglis, Philip N.
Publication:Communication World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2003
Words:845
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