When a news photo accompanies a story the photo(s) should convey information and reflect the story. And, hopefully, the photo will have good visual impact so it attracts readers and viewers to stop and linger over the photo.
Earlier this week I covered a protest by the Yakama Nation. The Yakamas were protesting plans to construct a coal transfer facility on the Columbia River. The tribe was also protesting the larger issue of barging coal downriver.
They maintain the coal facility would destroy nearby fishing sites, a claim the coal people dispute.
As part of the protest a Yakama fisherman set out a fishing net in one of the accustomed fishing sites near the planned facility.
While this photo captures that scene, it is, quite frankly, a pretty ho-hum shot. It does include all the elements – the net, the fisherman, the boat and the industrial area at which the transfer facility would be constructed. And, nothing about the photo says “protest.” It could be a tribal fisherman setting out his net at any time.
I knew my protest photo would lead A1 the next day. It would be displayed above the fold of the paper and as such, be the first thing people would see when they looked at the paper in the display rack or newspaper vending machine. So I knew I needed a photo with more impact.
This is the photo I chose instead:
This photo leaves no doubt this is a protest and the subject of the protest. The photo itself is more dynamic with the woman in the middle of the frame walking left to right through the scene. The tribal members dressed in traditional clothing in the background adds more to the photo.
The fishing photo was used as a secondary photo on the front page. Paired with the main photo the package presents more complete visual of the event.
I lingered over this editing decision for a quite a while, going back and forth between the fishing photo and the sign photo and ultimately chose the sign photo. I’m sure it was the right decision.