5 tips on working the pen and camera together

Juggling note taking and taking photos can be overwhelming. However, the demand to be a well- round communication specialist (a good writer and photographer) is now the industry trend.

In most organizations and government, communication officers (most of them former journalists) find themselves doing both these tasks when they were so used to begin with a photographer tagging along on their assignments.

When you are on your own, a challenge. What if taking a photo will mean missing to take down a good point from the speaker or when taking down a point you get to miss a great photo opportunity?

Usually the pressure of trying to be perfect when on your own is one step to failing at both; I say

  1. Plan the story idea

Once you know what the assignment is about, plan the photos around the story idea. If it is a signing, take a shot of the participants signing the document. As for a baraza, take a photo of the speaker with part of the crowd as he greets them. Thereafter, you are free to take notes but once in a while take a shot or two from where you are sitting.

  1. Take photos during the chit chat

As is with most cases, meetings no matter how serious, participants will always take a minute or two to speak on matter of personal interests. During this moment, they will be laughing and smiling and you are likely to get a great photo. This is free you to take notes as the speeches go on.

  1. Get the speech

Getting the speech beforehand will allow you to take the photos as they read it. In this instance, get a shot of the reader (often the newsmaker) looking up from the speech. As for the other subjects, as they listen. After the speech, you can now take the notes for the off-the-cuff comments where usually you can find the story angle.

  1. Focus on the newsmaker

Beforehand, know who when they speak will make the “news”. You can gamble and only take photos of him sitting at the high table or speaking then take just the notes of the other speakers. However, trying to get photos of the different speakers. You may need them later especially when one makes a good point.

  1. Location of the assignment

Knowing the location can help you plan out your photos; if it’s a bazaar, a photo of the speaker with part of the crowd. At a boardroom, get them outside and take a group photo that way you get everyone’s faces.  This will free you to take notes when it matters.

Take your time, always got with your gut and do not be hard on yourself when do not get it right the first time or the second. Practice!

(Painting by Giambattista Tiepolo – Alexander and Campaspe in the Studio of Apelles 1725-27)


Published by abbylatti

Committed to true and fair development journalism

2 thoughts on “5 tips on working the pen and camera together

    1. Thanks for reading, Jessie. The best photos that would tell a good story of a walk would be both close-ups and wide shots of the people wearing the branded event attire or focusing on the event banners as the people walk near them. In a tree planting event, people planting would be good photos to take.

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