On Photography


  1. Understand your equipment before taking any important pictures.  Read the manual.  Test the camera.  And—if it has batteries—make sure they are fresh.  .
  2. In some cases a photo stands alone and tells a story.  In other cases it goes with written words, and together they tell a story.
  3. You have control over some photos you take.  You choose the angle so that the sun hits right.  You decide where the subject stands.  You pick the background. 
  4. When “shooting” a news or sports event, you have little control.  The action occurs quickly.  You may have no choice over the angle or framing of the photo.
  5. Take general scenes and close-ups.  Professionals carry more than one lens:  24mm or 28mm wide-angle  or regular 50mm; 200mm for close-ups.
  6. Anticipate action.  Set your camera focus on an object where you guess the action might occur.  Be ready to shoot quickly.  You may get only one shot.
  7. Carefully and accurately write down names, titles and affiliations of those you photograph.  Without that information, a photograph is seldom usable.
  8. Group photos often present particular problems. Set up clearly defined rows. If someone is straddling two rows, the identification explanation can be awkward.
  9. Posed photos generally should be avoided.  Having the subject(s) engaged in normal activity makes a more natural and thus more appealing photograph. 
  10. Written explanations with photograph are usually called “captions”. (Sometimes they are called “cutlines”.)  The trick is to make them complete but brief.
  11. Photo layouts enable in-depth storytelling.  Thumbnail photographs that can be clicked on and expanded are an effective, space-saving device on web pages.


                                      Copyright, 2003, MIT Media Laboratory