Visual Variety for Photojournalists

Reference:  Photojournalism:  The Professionals’ Approach
Kenneth Kobre
Seventh Edition
Chapter 1, Assignment

Photojournalists working for a newspaper, magazine, or an agency are the eyes for the readers or viewers. Today a photojournalist or visual journalist is recording a story with still images, video, audio, writing photo captions, possibility writing a story, doing all this remotely, while posting to a website, sending images via smartphone to an editor for publication, almost in real time or same day of an assignment.

Variety of Images and video
Story Telling with visuals

NOTE:  Some images could be classified in a variety of shots listed below.  Shooting a variety of images and video is always best for telling a story visually as a journalist.

View more examples of photojournalism

Jannet Walsh, Portfolio

Pictures of the Year, View POY

National Press Photographers Association, NPPA

Student NPPA, view student photojournalism
Open to college students – Join if you are serious about exploring photojournalism!

Pulitzer Prizes
Breaking News Photography
Feature Photography

  • Overall shot, Setting the Scene

    An overall shot is often considered a scene setter of the story or location, showing an overall view or perspective.  An overall shot might be a view of a street, room, or the location, depending on the event or environment.  This helps to give a point of view to the other vantage points. An overall view applies for still images and video.
    Lens – This might be a wide-angle to telephoto lens, depending on the situation, news event and other factors while on assignment.

  • Medium Shot

    A medium shot tells the story in one image.  This contains all the story telling images in one location or scene.  Relationship of people, action, environment, depending on the situation.  A medium shot applies for still images and video.
    Lens – Medium shot likely taken with a wide-angle lens, 24mm to 28mm, full frame lens.

  • Close-Up Shot

    A close-shot adds drama, isolates an element to give detail to a story.

Close-up shot applies for still images and video.

    Lens – A telephoto lens might be used, macro or standard lens, all depending on the situation and what is being photographed.

  • High or Low Angle Shots,  Perspectives

    Most people see the world from standing or sitting.  Giving a new or different perspective shows a new perspective. Shooting ground level, raising camera above head and shooting in a crowd, called a “Hail Mary” view, gives readers a new look, instead of from 5 or 6 feet, the location of your eyes.  Shooting from higher locations, roof tops, from a ladder, with a drone, or passenger an aircraft, boat, bicycle, scooter or more, add even more perspectives to a story.  Planning and seeking permission to access areas not open to the public might be all part of assignment.

A high or low shot applies for still images and video.

     Lens – A variety of lens might be used for high or low angles.

  • Wide Angle Shots

    A wide angle lens gives perspective that’s wider than a normal view point for your eyes.  Shooting with a 24mm lens, getting closer to the subject, adds intimacy to the image, and a closer feel for the subject, person or environment.

Wide angle shot applies for still images and video.

    Lens – A variety of wide-angle lenses to panoramic setting on iPhone or smartphone.

Planning, working to capture images, video

Medium Shot – Muckross House, Killarney, Ireland. Photo by Jannet Walsh. ©2018 Jannet Walsh. All Rights Reserved.


  • Be persistent, take time to capture images, wait until you have images. Return at another day, sunrise or sunset (the golden hours of light, or as needed.
  • Walk around the event, person or subject, behind, look for new another point of view
  • Capture candid images, become a wall flower
  • Preset camera settings for the situation so you are ready for any action in front of you.
  • Timing – You need to be ready to capture action, people walking into scene or other elements.

  • Video
    Often photojournalist shoot still images and video on the same assignment.
    The same variety of shots should be used for shooting video or still images:   Overall shot, medium shot, close-up, high or low angles, and wide shot.

  • Video and still images simultaneously
    A photojournalist might set up one camera on a tripod for video, while using other camera for still images.
    Another method might be to shoot still image and video at the same time.  Mount a small video camera, iPhone, or smartphone in the hot shoe above on a DSLR camera, while shooting still images.  Turn off shutter noise for the still images so it’s not recorded on the video or audio.

If you have a drone, you can shoot video and still images.  Make sure you are legal to fly your drone if used for assignments for class or any situation.

  • Audio
    Sound can be recorded with an external microphone attached to a DSLR or video camera or iPhone, iPad, or audio recorder.  If time allows, then a recording with one or more people featuring in photos or video is best.  You are asking questions, letting the person you are interviewing tell the story, often works best.  Other times there might be a narration.  The best practice is to ask questions, be quiet, and listen.  Make no sounds, or audible affirmations.  In other words, be quiet up and listen!  Your voice is not included, always best, different than broadcast journalists.  The person is telling the story, not you.

Suggested questions might include for audio:

  • Please tell me your name and title, where you live. (City, State or Country) If you ask where are your from, the answer might be very different.)
  • If you are at an event or news: Please tell me what is going on today.
  • Other questions specific to the event. Ask the questions and let the person talk, you listen.
  • One last question: Is there anything else you would like to tell me?