Photo editing for designers


Photo editing, naturally, starts with photography. Most of us have shot photos, but few snapshots are like a picture taken by a photojournalist.

Snapshots are largely directed, posed and controlled. The process likely starts with someone yelling, “Hey, Madge, get in the picture. And damn you, kids, smile!“

Documentary photography is more candid and deceptively simple: It shows real people doing real things. Photojournalists should have no say in what is depicted; their photographs should attempt to observe and capture events as they naturally happen.

The snapshot and the newspaper photo also diverge in purpose.

Snapshots are a linchpin for memory, a reminder of the “story“ we have lived—the trip when Jimmy fell into the Grand Canyon or the Halloween party where Gramps showed up as Dame Edna. These images can be shallow—and often are—because they act merely as flashcards to elicit the larger story from within our heads.

The documentary photo has no backing story; it is the story. Pictures in the paper must go deeper than merely bookmarking the past; they have to provide some insight, some compelling narrative, some meaning to a subject or event the viewer has not been part of.

It is the photo editor’s job to select the best images to accomplish this.


[For complete paper, use “download PDF” button above. Control-click to save linked file to desktop.]

paper 6 info This paper was created as a companion to the session "Photo editing for designers presented at SND’s annual workshop in Denver, 2010.
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