Will your photo make the grade?

/ 04:31 AM December 09, 2019

As photo editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, I look at a daily average of 300 photographs from staff photographers, reporters, regular correspondents, contributors and wire photographers. Only three percent of them, or some 10 photographs, will get published.

How do I select today’s images for tomorrow’s Inquirer audience?


Here’s my visual checklist:

1. Is the photograph authentic and unaltered? Was it staged? Is it recent? Recent being better than an old photo. Here, the integrity of the photographer is given more weight than the individual photograph.


2. Does the photograph have technical excellence? We go back to basics: the photo should not be blurred, underexposed or overexposed. White balance should be on point. Did the photographer choose the right angle to take the shot?

3. Is it visually pleasing? Elements of composition such as pattern, texture, framing, leading lines and proper use of depth of field play an important role in making an image effective.

4. Does the image have editorial relevance? Is it newsworthy? What is its message? Is the image consistent with the written story? Is the information in the caption complete, objective and accurate?

The “wow factor” is as important. Is the image unique, funny, extraordinary, or is it something any person with a camera can take? A powerful image will make you stop, think and ponder. Photos should either move, excite, entertain, inform or help the reader understand a story.

That’s why a good photographer is a thinking photographer. And the image taken will always reflect that, and will most probably land on the pages of the Inquirer.

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