A1 of the New York Times always features an image above the fold. It’s usually in the top left corner, but the amount of space it takes up varies.
Sometimes the photograph is directly related to one of the main stories on A1 and other times it’s a stand alone image that either is promoting some other aspect of coverage within the organization or is just a really good picture.
More often than not, the cover picture is showing some sort of action. In two of my more recent examples, the photos are of people walking. One is during New York Fashion Week and shows a model walking at the edge of the frame. In another, President Barack Obama is walking on a platform after arriving in India. He’s clearly moving forward and in front of him there are two guards kicking their legs skyward.
Other times, the photo shows a static scene. Usually it’s show some sort of destruction. The example I have is a photo of a shelled-out building in Donetsk, Ukraine. These static photos tend to be of war zones because they’re usually coupled with stories about conflicts that make the front page.
The images on the cover tend to be wide shots that show a subject, but also the surroundings. In the model shot, you can see a crowd looking at the runway. In the Obama shot, you can see an honor guard on horses in the background.
The use of images in the Times is pretty conventional. Most images are rectangle or square when there’s enough space to accommodate it. You don’t see type placed over photos and most of the images are accompanied by a credit and cutline.
A lot of the stories in the paper have photos, but not to the same degree as you’d see in many other newspapers. You can see more creative use of images in sections besides news. One example is the front of Business Day using a three-way chessboard to illustrate debt talks.
Illustrations don’t get used too often overall, but I came across the back page of Weekend Arts that had a full page of illustrations to go with a feature about love. The goofiness involved was something I haven’t seen too often in the paper.