Images That Tell a Story

What makes a good picture? Other than just good composition, journalistic photos need to tell a story or manage to evoke our emotions.

Since the US-Mexican border has recently been a frequent issues in the news media, it has become hard to come up with interesting images. This picture in a story of the MSNBC that focuses (as so many) on the political issues involved around the border adds to the scope of the article by providing information about the border practices in particular.

The National Geographic in “Mexico: The Other Border” entirely shifts the focus away from the border fence and to the personal hardships illegal crossers encounter even before they reach the national border. The photograph creates sympathy for the Mexican immigrants by presenting their dire situation.

A similar strategy makes this photo of an Australian farmer and his children in the “Australian Dry Run” an excellent picture. It creates an emotional reaction in the viewer while it sums up the consequences of the drought, which is the focus of the article.

All three images use composition in order to support the effect they aim to create

Most of the time, photojournalists will not only provide one single image to a story, but create an entire narrative around images or using images for support.

This interview with photographer Ben Lowy uses not only an image of him in an intersting working situation, but also some of his own images to provide the reader with additional information about the photographers work and interests.

Slideshows tend to put a stronger emphasis on the image than additional information. The slideshow Reuters featured on the “Tea Parties” in the USA on Tax Day mostly consists of storytelling images that are given very text for background information. However, the images themselves and in their relation narrate the story of the protests, as for example the reacion of police forces.

Richard Wainwright uses even less text in his slideshow of child polio vacination in India. The images tell the story of preparation and vaccination including the details of how officials kept track of who had been vaccinated in a stunning series of images.

  1. April 20th, 2009

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