If you want to master photography, you will need to master some aspects that have very little to do with clicking the shutter. A photographer wears many hats, but today we’re going to focus on the editor’s hat. Very few of our readers have the luxury of a photo editor. But even those that do still need to be able to edit themselves. Photographer need to be able to have an honest conversation with themselves about the quality of their works (though not out loud in public… schizophrenia and all). You’ll need to be able to admit to yourself that one photo sucks, or another is superior despite the minimal effort. Most important, one may need to make a compromise by selecting a photo that tells the story, not just the one that is technically perfect.
This week’s photograph – LaRouche Supporter, Philadelphia – is from Dominic Mercier, an architecture, landscape, wildlife and occasional street photographer. The photo is a classic example of photojournalism. There is a story here, and it’s a strong, political commentary. The story is told thanks to Dominic’s careful photo selection. But before I get into that, take a good long look at everything that is going on in this photo.
What is happening? You don’t need to know much about the political activist, Lyndon LaRouche, to understand the photograph’s statement. But to ease and shorten the discussion, it may help to know that many people feel that LaRouche and his opinions are extreme and kooky. And yes, he and his supporters truly believe that President is leading us to Nuclear War. That leads us more quickly to the point of the photograph: Here we have a rabid supporter handing out pamphlets, yet his efforts seem to be for naught. The girl’s passive expression indicates where she stands, or at least where she doesn’t stand. She has no interest in what has been offered, and she is clearly passive. She actually seems to be ignoring him. This photo is therefore a bit of a comment about the LaRouche movement: No one seems be taking LaRouche or his supporters very seriously.
So that’s the tale, so let’s get into that editing aspect. The truth is that Dominic took two photos of the LaRouche supporter. I haven’t seen the other, but he describes in briefly in response to a comment over at Flickr. Allegedly, the other photograph features the girl looking at the supporter, possibly showing some interest – at least in the still frame. Both photos tell different stories. One – which is featured here – tells the story of the ignored supporter. The other would imply that the LaRouche movement is stirring up attention. Which to choose depends on the story that Dominic wanted to tell, and that answer comes in his very curt comment in the photo description: “Apparently, our current president is threatening thermo-nuclear war. Not sure I agree …” From Dominic’s perspective, the choice is a bit of a no-brainer. But of course that requires Dominic – the editor, not the photographer – to pay attention to the small details that sway the story one way or the other. Photojournalism is biased, don’t ever let anyone lead you to believe otherwise. But this is the power behind photojournalism, and that’s why it is so important. An image like this can sway opinions and stir up emotion. Then again, isn’t that the point?
Dominic Mercier is a fantastic photographer – or perhaps he’s really just a exceptional editor – and so I believe that any time that you can spend with his photostream would be worthwhile. Dominic dabbles in all sorts of genres including architecture, landscape, wildlife and street photography. He has a great eye for seeing and capturing fantastic angles, scenes and moments.