“Get closer!” Raymond Burner said, urging journalism students at Potomac State College to do what it takes to get the perfect shot. Burner, a local sports photographer, gave sage advice about the history and importance of photojournalism as well as techniques for getting better photographs.
Burner explained the history of photography, including how cameras have evolved from film to digital. Students interacted with Burner as he showed them around the classroom and pointed out how light changes at different angles. He furthered his point with photo evidence – showing two similar portraits taken at the same time but from different angles.
“Photography is like painting with light,” he remarked, adding that good photographers know how to use lighting to their advantage.
He went in-depth to show students the importance of photojournalism and how it has changed society. He shared pictures of refugees and war zones, noting that without photographers, some people in society may never see what is going on. “Because of pictures like this, a real change can occur,” Burner said.
Burner also talked to the aspiring journalists about the importance of ethics in the field. With digital technology and photo manipulation programs and apps easily available, Burner said the line between what is ethical and what isn’t is becoming blurry. He stressed the importance of photojournalists making sure their shots accurately capture the scene at the time.
Photo examples included manipulated shots that ran in actual newspapers, with one example being as small as a wire cord being photoshopped out of the shot. It might not have changed the story drastically, but it was not an accurate representation. Burner added that the change resulted in the photographer getting fired. Some of the class may have doubted that such a small change was unethical, but one example of Burner’s was agreed upon unanimously to be unethical: a basketball being photoshopped into a photograph and completely changing what was shown.
With the examples Burner used to highlight photojournalism’s importance in telling the stories society must see, the need for ethics was apparent. Using the tips Burner gave to get a good shot and the knowledge he imparted about photojournalism’s ethics, students were well prepared for their next assignment: to take portraits of a stranger and photograph an event on campus.