A photo feature is another name for a photo archive or database that can be searched to pull up photo’s to support news stories. For example, suppose a celebrity passes away tomorrow, reporters will access their huge photo database to pull up photos from as far back as the person’s childhood to show with the memorials.
Not only does the silent screen stars, celebrities, come to life, but in a photo feature, we will find the celebrities of today in the latest roles, with their families, receiving awards or out on the town. Photo feature pages give you a good chance to use more refined camera techniques. The shooting techniques should be unobtrusive while getting a whole series of pictures. Flash film and available light will enable you to get pictures with a look of reality that can seldom be posed. The photos that accompany an interview furnish another example of a photo feature.
Here, the photos running along the columns of the interview should be sharp and if the interview is to run on a feature page, a dozen candid photos showing the
subject, as he speaks, may accompany it.
You would want to capture his gestures and facial expressions as he makes his main points. A series of flashbulbs going off in his face would inhibit his unconscious mannerisms and might even make him forget what he wants to say. Available light photography is the answer. If possible, you should seat your subject where the background and the light are the best. With feature assignments, a photographer needs sharp reflexes honed by spot news events. The trouble with features, however, is that a photographer usually cannot anticipate where the assignment will take place. It is no wonder that many undergraduate photography students often complain that they cannot find meaningful feature pictures to photograph.
Feature assignments are usually self-generated ones. Photo editors, with no other assignments, will tell the photographer to shoot “wild art” or “a colourful enterprise picture for Page 1.”
An ordinary photographer might drive to a public park and capture the usual scenes: a child rides a swing, a young woman reads a book, and two men talk on a bench. These pictures are made to show readers nothing more than that the weather was nice and people enjoyed the day.
A more mature photographer anticipates the need for a feature picture by the photo editor and has already scouted an area of town or a particular subject that is both visually interesting and filled with meaningful content.
Human Interest features show persons being natural and unique. The images cannot be anticipated. They are of its kind moments that capture a person or group being themselves: odd, humorous, and natural. Cute kids, animals, and nuns are traditional subject clichés.
Features offer an opportunity for a page to be highlighted with a pleasant, happy picture that may offset the tragic events of the day. A photographer looking for human-interest features thinks like a hunter. Keenly aware and observant, knowledgeable on matters of basic human nature, quiet and unassuming, and technically competent to capture quick and fleeting moments, the photographer stalks the city looking for pictures that go beyond the cliché.
Photographers have several techniques they use to take pictures of people. Some will use a 35mm. a wide-angle lens and get close to their subjects. Others use telephoto lenses to keep a far and undetected distance from their subjects. They will either identify themselves immediately or wait until the subject asks for an explanation.
There are two things that happen when you ask a person if you can take their picture and both of them are bad. Either they say no and you don’t get the picture or they say yes and stare and smile at you like they were posing for a snapshot. When you see some unusual action, get an initial picture. Afterwards, you can identify yourself, get their names, and take additional photographs after they become accustomed to your presence.
The other type of feature picture is the much-maligned pictorial. Traditionally, the pictorial is a silhouette of two standing, arm-in-arm lovers at sunset. Pictorials rely on the graphic elements of composition and lighting more than subject matter. Many times pictorial feature pictures, when combined with bold page layout design, can educate unsophisticated readers to the artistic forms and lighting characteristics within their world. Shapes and shadows should never distract a photojournalist. Personal artistic expression in the form of pictorial feature pictures
has a limited place in the photographer’s portfolio. It is far better to take pictures that combine the striking visual qualities of the pictorial with human-interest moments.