Field Notes: Photography

Most images in The Washington Post (WP) are the same types of images. Since this is a very political-based publication, photos are very typical for this subject. Politicians are featured in every issue, in the same type of way. The classic politician photo in the WP is usually the individual featured at podiums, walking around on a stage, or speaking.

The typical picture of the crowds includes one individual who particularly stands out, or many people standing around holding signs. There are also some photos of politicians interacting with the crowds of people.

Another typical picture featured in the WP is one of a crowd of people in protest, celebration, or observation. Most of the time, these types of pictures are seen in the World/International section of the WP. The same type of picture is used a lot.

Also, for the “Metro” section, the WP uses a lot of images that catch subjects “in the moment”. These photos show action. Most of the time, they feature a main subject(s) and they are usually a local citizen. Also, these photos are very relatable. The subjects are ones that readers may see everyday. They localize the stories and add a sense of relationship to this particular section of the publication.

In the WP, usually images take up a substantial amount of space on the page. Front page/section photos seem to be the largest. Photographs in the inside of the section vary in size. There can be small, medium, or large images. Also, when multiple images are used for a single story, the WP pairs two different size images together.

Most pictures in the WP are medium shots. These images are of people from the waist up. Sometimes, the WP does have long/wide shots of crowds and people from a distance. There are also wide shots of landscapes, houses, or other “large” subjects. There are very little tight or up-close shots. Maybe one or two every issue.

Photographs featured in the WP are always rectangles. They rarely deviate from this shape when featuring any type of photo. When there are charts, graphs, or other types of infographics, other shapes may be used, but for the most part, all photos are rectangular. The size and orientation of the rectangles do vary from story to story.

Images in the WP are not superimposed onto one another. The layout of all photos is very basic. The photo is presented along side a story, or the photo is the story. The norm in the WP is that one photo is featured. If there are multiple photos for one story, they get their own space. For feature/larger stories, the WP does used multiple images for a single story.

Also in the WP, no type is placed on any of the images. All photographs are accompanied by captions that are placed under the image, or beside the image. Exceptions to this are in the WP’s special sections where there is a little more creativity.

To improve the photography aspect of the WP, the publication can feature more varied shots. The same type of photographs are used from issue to issue. Readers may be use to these types of photos, but switching up the norm very hurt. To make the WP more dynamic, they can feature a wider variety of wide, medium, and tight shots in their photographs. They can also experiment with different shapes of photographs, instead of the standard rectangular shape.

brianamurrell