One of the most important differences between photojournalism and other types of photography is that in photojournalism we often strive to capture the “decisive moment” (a phrase coined by the father of modern photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson).
In other words, we try to capture with the camera a pivotal instant in the events that are unfolding. The goal is to stop time and give the viewer a chance to enjoy at length a moment of action or awe or wonder or emotion that otherwise would be too fleeting to really take in. This can be something as monumental as a plane about to hit the World Trade Center towers, or something as ephemeral as as a child’s sudden elation at seeing a butterfly.
In the words of Cartier-Bresson: “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. … That is the moment the photographer is creative. … Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.” (from a Washington Post obituary)
Your challenge in this assignment is to capture several of these decisive moments. Ideally these images will relate to your main story/reporting subject for this part of the course.
Go out with your camera on the hunt for decisive moments. Get right up close to the action and try to capture as many as you can, thinking not just about the action and/or emotion you will capture but also about proper exposure and composition (i.e., arrangement of elements in the frame): Are your camera settings right for the situation? Is there a clear visual emphasis on the pivotal elements of the scene? Is the framing tight enough to make the viewer feel like she or he is there in the moment? Is the composition of the frame attractive and organized enough to steer the viewer toward the key parts of the image? Are all the other things we’ve talked about so far being applied?
The next step is to edit your “take.” Go through your pictures and select the three best. It is OK to do some minor cropping to improve the composition of the images. If you don’t have three decisive moments you are proud of, then go back out to reshoot.
Once you have your photos…