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Response to Quinn & Filak: “Digital Still Photography”

Still Photography


Pictures are worth a thousand words, and photojournalism uses these theoretical “words” to tell stories. Stephen Quinn and Vincent Filak define photojournalism in Convergent Journalism: an Introduction as a medium “not restricted to still pictures or film cameras or any location. Photojournalism tells stories about life.”

In video, pictures are displayed as part of a larger sequence, and frames aren’t really meant to be viewed on their own. Photojournalism tries to find that one image that tells the best story, and can be examined in great detail. Quinn and Filak use the example of sports photography vs. sports TV to show how much more detail you get in the still-frames of photojournalism, and how sequence oriented TV stills are.

The iPhone of the 1980s.

Back in the day, you needed a whole bunch of equipment to take good pictures, and a completely different set of technology to take good video. In the modern world, all you need is a smartphone. Quinn and Filak mentioned the first known photojournalist, Roger Fenton, and how he kept a truckload of equipment with him on his quest to capture the war. He brought back a few hundred pictures in a few months. Today, some Instagrammers that take a few hundred pictures in a week. Old time photo exposures took over a half a minute to complete, so you couldn’t really do moving shots. It’s also why people never looked very happy back in the day. (You might not have anything to smile about after 15 minutes of sitting still.) With the latest cutting-edge technology, in contrast, you can record video and extract 15 photo-quality stills from every second of the action.

The best camera is the one you have with you, and today’s offerings are astounding.

Quinn and Filak discuss various image presentation styles, such as the single hard hitting image of a newspaper or the sprawling magazine spread, and how successful web photographers can combine these styles as well as draw upon slideshows and other interactive features that print media isn’t capable of, as well as utilizing the almost unlimited space on the web for photo galleries, videos on demand, and content for which no extra room exists in the paper or on TV.

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