Adding storytelling elements to news photos

May 14, 2016 | Photojournalism

A structural engineer and the building owner inspect the wall of the Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau after it was damaged when struck by a vehicle turning around in the private parking lot.

It’s a simple story. A building owner and a structural engineer inspect a building damaged in a parking lot accident.

This photo is referred to as the “second day photo” when a story is extended another news cycle to bring a fresh or updated perspective to the story. In this case the previous day’s photos showed fire fighters shoring up the interior of the building after the crash.

building-truck-wreck-2016-05-10-08760-1.jpgThe photos also included two fire fighters checking the damage and discussing how best to make the temporary repairs, at right.

News photos sometimes don’t require great impact. It is important that they illustrate the event but it’s not necessary that they are so compelling that society changes when the photos are viewed and discussed.

That doesn’t mean photographers shouldn’t find a way to better tell the story than just showing the obvious elements that make up the story.

In this case, the yellow tape from the previous day had been moved closer to the wall making it a perfect foreground object to give a more three-dimensional perspective on the damage.

Having the building owner and a structural engineer near the broken brick stitches the story into a tight package that would require a simple caption to explain the story to a reader.

Any time you can include a foreground object that contributes important information to the photo you’ll have a better news photo. Especially if you’re lucky enough to have yellow safety tape that describes the scene.