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Wednesday, February 1, 2006


The challenge of antiphotogenic news

I always knew newspaper photography would be challenging, but the thing I used to worry about most was capturing a really big event, like a riot or a neighborhood on fire, in a frame. Photography boils down to selection and subtraction, so what do you choose to symbolize everything that’s going on around you?

This just shows how little I know about photojournalism. Riots and wildfires are at least exciting in some way. Even Rush Week and water polo provide interpersonal connections and a certain amount of action to look at. But what about a press conference? Or a gallery opening without a reception? The dreaded grip-and-grin? They might make good news stories, but getting a good picture in the dullest of circumstances? Now that’s hard.

Don’t get me wrong — I consider myself quite fortunate to live in a part of the world where things are largely stable, peaceful, and not on fire. I’m glad, both as a human and as a photographer, that I get to witness far more beauty than horror. It’s just that there’s a big gray area in between. I hadn’t given much thought to it, but that’s where most stuff happens.

That gray area, I now understand, is the daily newspaper.

Leap exhibit

Valerie Kiadeh, a linguistics student at San Jose State University, reacts to a photograph in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library Wednesday. “People with Disabilities in Our Community,” a show by photographer Misako Akimoto, is on display in the library’s second-floor exhibit area through March 1.

Dick Tomey press conference

Spartans football head coach Dick Tomey answers a reporter’s question about national signing day during a press conference Wednesday at the Simpkins Stadium Center.

(Both for tomorrow’s Spartan Daily.)

Now, to end things on an upper, I’d like to point out that the Spartan Daily is far from a gray place. It’s an exciting ongoing project populated with some of the brightest people I’ve met in college. Some of them have blogs and web portfolios. Some, like Dr. Dennis Dunleavy, are no longer in the building, but the magical interweb keeps their work and wisdom close at hand. (And then there’s Edy Moreno — not at the Daily, but a fellow sunrise/sunset photographer from my landscape class last fall, and one of the best photographers I’ve shot with.) When I get around to making a sidebar for links, all these people will be up there.

Dennis DunleavyThe Big Picture?

Daniel SatoPhotojournalism from a Student’s Eye

Shaminder DulaiS(urrender) L(aughter) R(egularly)

Edy Moreno — Flickr page