“Fontana Pier #1″ by Carlina

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Sometimes, photography is about saving moments – making moments – and freezing emotions in time.  That is the whole basis of photojournalism.  Shown here is Fontana Pier #1, captured by Carlina (I don’t know the full name, but the Flickr account is carlina999).  This photo is an excellent example of how photojournalism can not only capture a moment, but can also be beautiful.

Now in theory, this photo isn’t the direct result of photojournalism.  But a photo such as this straddles the line between photojournalism and artistic photography.  In many cases, photojournalism serves a very specific purpose – to captu – re a specific event, or to serve as support for a story.  Fontana Pier #1 certainly does just that – there is clearly a story here, but it doesn’t stop there.

Let’s run down the building blocks:

  • Line – Lines are captured at the edge of the dark with just enough distance between them to help define the vanishing point on the horizon.  This is especially important considering this is a Lake shot, and the horizon is very low.  It’s also important because it’s a sunset photo, defining the vanishing point gives context.  Additionally, lines help to frame the subjects, the father and son starting their way down the dock.
  • Shape – The most substantial shape here is the sign itself.  It serves as a nice anchor point and balance for the sunset.  It’s important that it is fairly low-key as a contrast to the high-key sun.
  • Texture – in this case, the texture is the ripples in the water.  They’re subtle and they are insignificant, but they serve as a nice backdrop – a container for the subject matter.  It also serves a very important purpose – to prevent the water from being a strong element.  During a sunset, a smooth lake would result in very strong reflections close to the camera – in this case, near the bottom right.  The texture of the water breaks it up just enough so that the reflection does not become overpowering.
  • Pattern – The repetition of the pier’s upright posts provide us with a pattern.  An important one at that.  Shooting into the light source can very often flatten an image.  The context is sometimes lost as the color changes on the surface vary.  The pattern of the uprights – which we assume are all the same relative size – helps to provide a sense of scale.
  • Color – It’s a sunset.  Color is important, but the setting sun provides us with that.

You’ll note that form is absent from the above list.  While there is clearly form within the photo, it is not an essential part of this photo, nor does it need to be. This photograph is certainly built well without.  And let me remind you that a great photograph doesn’t need to be made up of every single building block – even one or two is sufficient if used well.  Each element present in this photo is certainly used well.

Now don’t condemn me for picking on a great photograph, but there are always areas where a photograph could be improved.  I will state up front that the photo is excellent without any further improvement.  But for the sake of learning, I’d like to point out one minor detail where this should could be improved:  The crop/framing.  I would have tried to get more of the area just to the right of the frame in the shot – perhaps a more elongated framing while holding the left edge.  This would hold the main subject at the lower left corner, and the pier would point to the center of the shot.  The sign and it’s posts would serve as an anchor point, so I am not concerned about the eye traveling off the edge.  Now the caveat is that this might not have been feasible.  For all I know, there might have been an obstruction, or a distracting object over there.  If that was the case, Carlina made a great decision to crop that part out.

Photojournalism or not, that’s a debate that really doesn’t matter.  The point is that regardless of the photo’s intent, it still holds great merit in both photojournalism and artistic categories.  So be sure to stop by and comment on Fontana Pier #1, and then stop by and check out Carlina’s photo stream.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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