Caught on camera! Photojournalists on how to capture moments that make history

Remember that moment when Rahul Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress, gave Prime Minister Narendra Modi a hug in the Parliament?

That one picture captured the entire mood of the No-Confidence Motion debate that happened that day and it spread like wildfire all over the internet.

If you are a photojournalist, those are the kind of golden moments you want to look out for and capture on your camera!

As a photojournalist, you will be attending all kinds of events- party rallies, corporate functions, convocations- and on every occasion, you have to look for pictures that will ‘speak a thousand words’.

How to do that? Mr K Gopinathan, former Chief Photographer at The Hindu, Bengaluru, and Mr Pushkar V, Principal Photographer at The New Indian Express in Bengaluru share their tips!

Know your subjects and surroundings

Whichever city or country you are working in, make yourself familiar with the surroundings and the local language.  

“Always keep tab of what is happening around you, learn the local language and the geography of the place. Knowing the local language and being familiar with the neighbourhood gives you better access to information,” Mr Gopinathan said.                              

Be patient or you’ll miss the action!

A good photo opportunity can come and go in a second and if you miss it because you decided to put your camera down for a sip of tea, well, you’ve missed it.

Mr Pushkar says to always be alert and on the lookout for the best shot. Politicians may arrive late and events may get delayed but you should learn to wait patiently.

Even once the action finally begins, Mr Gopinathan’s advice is to not be satisfied with your pictures too easily.

“Keep looking for a better picture. I don’t leave after I click a few pictures. I stay and click until my mind says ‘Yes, I’ve got it!’ I go around looking for something different, trying to get a feel of the place,” he said.

Chief News Photographer, K. Gopinathan was the only one to capture Richard Hadlee's record 374th Test wicket in Bangalore way back in 1988. Photo: K. Gopinathan (Indian Express) (source: The Hindu)
Chief News Photographer, K. Gopinathan was the only one to capture Richard Hadlee’s record 374th Test wicket in Bangalore way back in 1988. Photo: K. Gopinathan (Indian Express) (source: The Hindu)

Follow your instincts!

Every picture tells a story but how it tells the story is what makes photojournalists different from each other. Instincts play an important role. Trust and follow your intuition.

Mr Gopinathan says his sense of humour is reflected in his photographs. “I broke stereotypes and monotony in news photography. I always add a tint of humour to my photographs, even if it is serious news. It conveys the message with a better impact,” he said.  

Photographs should be unique and noticeable from the rest. After all, as Mr Pushkar said, Photographs are the signatures of photojournalists.

Do not copy or repeat

Each photograph that you click and publish should be distinct. “Be different and give different. You are always being watched by your readers. If you click the same kind of pictures, they will know, ” Mr Gopinath said.

Do not try to copy or imitate others. Many of us do it either consciously or unconsciously. Be original. Explore and let your creative juices flow and no one will be able to stop you!

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Harshavardhini S is a student of Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru, pursuing Psychology and Journalism. Harsha plans on continuing with Psychology if the future doesn’t have it’s own plans for her. She enjoys reading books and taking long, peaceful walks.

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