my first photography assignment

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by redrabbit, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. redrabbit macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2006
    So I have my first photog assignment for the college paper. I've taken lots of photos for fun, but taking them for work is making me very nervous! I have to photograph an event here at school of a few speakers talking of a new partnership on campus. Any suggestions or tips would be much appreciated. I will be shooting with a 50mm f/1.4 lens probably. Since these are to be my first published photos, how about ethical adjustments in Lightroom? What can I do? What can't I do? ANY tips or advice for shooting the event offered will make me very grateful! Thanks
  2. furious macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2006
    If I was you I would not limit myself to only the 50-mm. I would also take a longer lens something in the 100-200-mm range. This should allow you to get 'closer' to the subjects.

    Since it is a speech you will have a few seconds to frame the pictures so take your time don't rush.
  3. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
    There are a handful of shots to get:
    1. A head+shoulder portrait of him on-stage.
    2. A wide shot from the back of the hall showing the stage, speaker, and audience.
    3. A wide shot from the side of the stage showing a profile of the speaker and the audience.
    4. A full-body shot of the speaker on-stage.
    5. A waist-up shot of him and whoever introduces him, should the opportunity arise, during a handshake or other formal on-stage greeting.

    Basically, the 50mm isn't gonna be much use to you. You need to borrow or rent a 200mm lens, at least, and you'll probably wish you had something wider. f/4 will probably work fine, since most speakers are fairly well-let.

    Any photo that doesn't tell a story is a waste of time. You're entering the world of photojournalism and, without a story, it's just a photo. You need faces, you need emotion, and -- when possible -- you need (inter)action.

    Expect to shoot a hundred (or a few hundred, even) photos to get that one that's good. If you take just the 50/1.4, you might be surprised to find that none of them are printable.

    When I was first learning photojournalism techniques, I read a few books on the topic. One author said, in his first paragraph, "If you learn nothing else from this book, learn to set your aperture to f/8 and learn to be in the right place at the right time. Don't worry about technical perfection. Focus on telling the story."
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    1. You're going to need a longer lens. If you don't have one, you'll need to stand close to the stage, which means you'll be underneath him. Photos of people from a low perspective aren't always flattering. I don't want to see up his nostrils. ;)

    2. You need to shoot from far away because of what I said above.

    3. If the "stage" is low, or if there is no stage, then maybe the 50 mm can be useful. However, an 85 mm or 100 mm lens would help you more.

    4. Use flash. He may ask you to stop because it's distracting, so stop.
  5. redrabbit thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2006
    Thanks for the suggestions. I will look into borrowing someone's 100mm lens. Hopefully I can find one by tomorrow. How about ethical/appropriate adjustments in Lightroom/Aperture? What would be ok, what would be unprofessional?
  6. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    My understanding is that as long as you are not making changes to the content of the photo its ok (red-eye, crop, color correction, white point, but not clone or spot brush).
  7. MacUserSince87 macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2007
    Northern Virginia, USA
    A good first step would be talking to the person who gave you the assignment or the editor of the paper to learn what they are looking for.

    I find the cinematic approach to story telling is a good thing to keep in mind when shooting and editorial / PJ assigmement. You'll notice that movies tend to follow this progression: 1) A wide shot to establish the scene, 2) a medium shot to reveal the actors in the scene, 3) Close-ups of the actors from different points of view to reveal the action. Combined they tell the complete story and the editor can sort out which works best for a single shot.

    Compositionally for each shot you should have a clear idea when you take it what the focal point is and try to contrast it from all the background clutter. The contrast can be created with selective focus, tone (the brightest area on a dark background will attract the most attention), and relative size (fill the frame with what is most important). See

    Do don't mention whether the venue is indoors or out or if you will have flash available. Light is and important element for creating the contrast which separates your center of interest from the background distractions. The first thing to do when arriving at the venue is to note the ambient light: its direction and intensity and how it hits the faces of the subjects. Typical indoor lighting is pretty dreadful for photos because the downward direction creates dark shadows in the eye sockets. Pay attention to the faces and where they are facing when they are in flattering light (on the front of the face) then position yourself on the "short" side opposite the light, shooting into the shadows. That way the front of the faces will be brightest and contrast the most. If you have a flash bring it. Even if the ambient light is good a bit of fill flash is often necessary. See

    Pay attention to the facial angles. Precise views: full, oblique, profile are more flattering than imprecise ones with noses hanging out past the cheekline, or odd bits of the far ear popping out on the far side of an oblique view. The goal of the lighting / facial angle combinations is to make a face appear symetrical. Symetrical looking faces are more attractive than ones which look lopsided due to a camera angle which makes one side look wider than the other. See

    Chuck Gardner
  8. revenuee macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2003
    A place where i am supreme emporer

    Look for opportunities before and after -- shaking hands, receiving a gift -- not the standard podium shot.

    I use to work as photo editor in a paper --- and I always told my photographers NOT to correct photo's

    mostly because there were a lot of corrections I had to account for that the photographer themselves has no idea about.

    Printer specific things like correcting to specific white point set out by my Printer. Correcting for magenta saturations because of the way the printer reproduced colour.

    I had our Printer guys come in and calibrate our monitors and set up photoshop to account for all these changes so that I could edit without worrying to much.

    even things like the way you sharpen and adjust for brightness were really skewed --- colour photo's were a nightmare because CMYK is the devil.

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