Great news photography doesn’t just stem from a good photographer. There is are a whole number of people that come together in the planning, execution and reproduction of top class images and the real downside of being a freelancer is that I miss being part of a really great team.

©Neil Turner/TSL | Weymouth, Dorset | December 2007

Being a photographer is usually part of a process. Images are commissioned, stories are bought and sold, edits are done and newspapers are printed. It’s a big and complicated jigsaw and being the person who operates the camera has to be the best part. There is no such thing as a run of the mill commission, but the process often goes like this;

  • The story is commissioned
  • The arrangements are made
  • The photographer is briefed
  • The photographs are taken
  • The edit is done
  • The pages are laid out
  • The newspaper/magazine is printed

There can be upwards of thirty people involved in the whole process and it’s important that the communication is good and that it goes in all directions. Some photographers aren’t as lucky as I am – this piece from the Sports Shooter site is a tongue in cheek rant against bad communications and poor commissioning. Unfortunately lot’s of photographers fail to live up to their obligations, indeed many don’t even recognise that they even have those obligations. It is up to us to talk to the picture editor, the journalist and ask the right questions. Getting the correct information from everyone else in the chain gives the photographer the best possible opportunity to shoot the right photographs and to tell the story in the best way possible. A failure to communicate ties the creative hands of the photographer and drastically reduces their chance of making a great set of pictures.

Sometimes the commissioning editor will forget an important detail, and at other times spelling mistakes and wrong addresses will get in the way of the pictures. Checking details, double checking spellings and discussing the story with the editorial staff will always prove to be time well spent:

  • It helps with the story under discussion
  • It improves your own relationship with the editorial team
  • It goes a little way to improving photographer editorial relations on a world scale!

Of course the picture desk need to do their bit in this vital piece of symbiosis because photographers really appreciate being given accurate information, input into the story and feedback after publication. Two way conversations work, and the industry needs more of them.

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