Photo editing is an art and craft for effective communication with the help of journalistic photographs by the selection, cropping, enlarging blowing up, reducing, sizing, retouching, reproduction, insetting, grouping, clubbing, etc appeal presentation.
Selection: selection of a photo is an extremely important job, as the valuable space available in the newspaper should in no way, be wasted. The selected photograph should be able to depict a scene and to follow the old slogan that ‘a picture speaks more than a thousand words. If the picture provided by the photographer provides nothing to the understanding of the reader, it should be rejected.
In some pictures, the emotions are very well captured by the photographer and in some, both the pictures and words will provide a perfect combination. A creative and capable picture editor, experienced in visual communication, provides necessary guidance for the successful use of pictures. Small and local newspapers usually turn to the photographer for advice, but mostly it is the news editor or copy editor who makes the decision. The selection procedure may differ from newspaper to newspaper. Some allow the photographer to make the decision of selecting the photos and the pictures submitted by him/her are considered for publication. Some newspaper works closely both with the photo editor and the photographer to make the best selections.
Cropping: this process involves the cutting of the unwanted part of a photograph. Earlier the photographs provided by the photographers were either selected or completely rejected but these days a photographer has the tools to select the relevant content of a photo while the rest is cropped off.
Enlarging: also called blowing up, involves the procedure of enlarging a photograph. Some photos are very small in size, but of great relevance and value to the news story. Such photos need to be enlarged or blown up.
Reducing: it’s just the opposite of enlarging. Both the newspapers and the magazines run into a space crisis and at these times some photographs need to be reduced in size so as to be accommodated on the page. Reducing will mostly depend on the relevance, importance and degree of news value.
Sizing: the sizing of a picture should be preferably determined by the value of the photograph and not by the space available. Many times, the newspaper editor tries to reduce a photograph to fit a space and destroy the impact of the photo in the process. It is obvious that a photograph of about 10 people will be ineffective in a two-column photo and thus this photo will need at least three columns.
The biggest danger while sizing a photo is to make it appear too small. A skilful and rational photo editor will opt for a three-column photo if given a choice between two columns and three-column space. Sizing of any picture is a very significant job, but sizing of pictures on multi photograph packages is especially significant. In such packages, one photograph should be dominant. These multiple pictures allow the photo editor a lot of flexibility that may not be available in single-photo situations. Dramatic size contrast is an effective device to use in multi-picture packages. A photo editor trained in visual communication understands the usefulness of reversing normal sizing patterns for added impact.
Retouching: it is a process of toning down or eliminating extraneous distractions within the frame. Retouching can improve some pictures. It can be accomplished with an airbrush, an instrument that applies a liquid pigment to a surface by means of compressed air. Retouching can also be done by brushing on a retouching liquid or paste or by using retouching pencils of varying colours. Retouching should be done so minutely and meticulously that the meaning and content of the picture are not changed. Retouching a picture to change its meaning is unethical as changing a direct quotation to alter the meaning of a speech.
Reproduction: there are four main mechanical processes of reproduction. These processes are 1 metal engraining 2 plastic plates 3 screened positives 4 windows and photo negatives.
Insetting: insetting is an innovative and creative way of photojournalism. For example, there was some fatal incident in a particular city. The people affected by the incident are shown in the picture. At the same time, a map of the city is inserted in the picture indicating where that particular city is located in the country. Grouping: when two or three or even more photographs are joined without overlapping one another, the process is called grouping.
Clubbing: clubbing is a very creative, imaginative and innovative way with a sense of graphics. The photojournalist moves through four steps in handling a story:
- Idea generation
- Writing captions
The photographer develops an idea or concept, decides on the appropriate lenses, speed and aperture and selects locations from where to shoot; decides when to shoot, and then does the darkroom work that will enhance to story. For a feature, the photojournalist moves carefully and deliberately through these stages on a breaking news event, the thinking and the decisions come quickly and instinctively. If the camera does not tell the truth, skepticism about the media arises in the minds of readers. A picture may be striking and it may be narrative. But if it conveys a false or distorted impression it would be better left unpublished. Picture editors usually will select the picture showing the figures more favorably.