Image Integrity (Pt-2), Photojournalists and Street Photographers.

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Photographer Craig Sillitoe has been grilled before. His first grilling, Photographing the Shrine of Remembrance contains a short profile. You can vote to grill more of his images at About Photogrill. This is part 2 about image integrity

PHOTOGRILL: How does photographic integrity affect a photojournalist or street photographer?

PHOTOGRAPHER: Well this style of photography is really no different in that respect. photojournalists may work differently but they think the same. Before any assignment they will have two things clearly in mind. They know what they stand for as a photographer, and they hope to understand their subjects intimately. A photographer that I know will spend quite a bit of time wandering his beat without a camera, taking visual notes and meeting people. So that when he starts taking pictures he will have implanted a sort of master picture into his subconscious. That master picture is very wide ranging, it will not only guide him in finding scenes and moments that are telling, it will guide him in how to move when something unexpected happens. For example, if there is a car accident, then people from different cultures will deal with it differently. There are so many things going on, what should the photographer be doing (other than offering to help)? The master picture in his mind has the answer.

PHOTOGRILL: Tell us about this picture.

PHOTOGRAPHER: I was photographing inside a church in Lonsdale Street Melbourne when it began raining heavily outside. People went to the front door to watch so I followed. I’ve lived in Melbourne all my life and I’m well aquainted with people’s attitudes about weather. ‘Four seasons in a day’ we say. You can never be prepared for every situation. People here wont let a bit of rain stop them. So when it rains in Melbourne I get my camera out and I get wet. This is a busy photo, bad composition, the background has more colour than the main subject. But it has integrity just the same. All the aspects come together for the story. Fellow jumping, water flowing below him, he’s trying to protect himself from water falling from above. Tiny umbrella with drops bouncing. Traffic jam, headlights shining on wet road, Melbourne cab. Rainy atmosphere, shops with neon signs beckoning us in from the wet. It’s a grab shot, if it had been set-up it’d be better composed, not as messy, colours more controlled, but the atmosphere of the moment would be lost.

PHOTOGRILL: So for a photojournalist, image integrity is when all the elements come together naturally in front of them?

PHOTOGRAPHER: The old photographers maxim is ‘never work with children or animals’ because you can’t control them. But children and animals are great subjects for a street photographer because you can’t control them. If you get a great moment or expression, bang, instant integrity. The viewers just see a beautiful natural moment. They don’t know about all the effort you went to so that this moment would happen in front of you, or all the time you spent gaining acceptance so you can blend in and photograph. And they don’t need to know.

PHOTOGRILL: How else does image integrity help a photojournalist?

PHOTOGRAPHER: A street photographer and a photojournalist will probably have to edit a lot of pictures. Many more than an advertising photographer for example, who has full control of a shoot. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your picture editor wants to scroll through 500 pictures to find the beach baby of the day shot. So what’s the secret to selecting the right images to show the editor? Again it’s integrity. Which pictures make their point several times, using the subject, photographic technique, colours, background, expression/body language etc? While each one of those adds it’s own accent to the story. That way editing a big shoot might not be so daunting.

PHOTOGRILL: How does the viewer relate to this?

PHOTOGRAPHER: I love the film ‘The Matrix’. There are so many hidden messages in that film. For me the central theme is about integrity. For example, in the film the central character ‘Neo’ discovers that The Matrix exists because he has a sense that the world he lives in is not real. Certain things don’t add up, it lacks integrity for him. Then further on, once we know it’s a computer generated world that our characters live in, and they are being chased by ‘agents’ (imagine indestrcutible computer generated FBI types). Neo tells his more experienced crew that he had experienced deja vu…

TRINITY: What happened? What did you see?
NEO: A black cat went past us, and then I saw another that looked just like it.
TRINITY: How much like it? Was it the same cat?
NEO: It might have been. I’m not sure. What is it?
TRINITY: A deja vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something.

The scene’s lack of integrity is a warning to the hero’s, that the agents have set a trap for them. And that’s exactly how people view photographs that lack integrity. The photographer may have put a lot of thought into it, but to the viewer it’s just a feeling. They love it or they hate it, but they can’t say why.

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Vote to grill more of Craig Sillitoe’s images at Portfolio
Buy this photo at Fairfax Photos



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10 Responses to “Image Integrity (Pt-2), Photojournalists and Street Photographers.”

  1. Julie DP says:

    This is a wonderful image to study. Lots of information, but caught at the decisive moment. Clearly, you were ready for this shot.

    • csillitoe says:

      Thanks for the comment Julie, you’ve really made me think. Yes I was ready, but I’d also say that I try hard to be ready every single time. Because for every shot where the peak of action turned out to be something wonderful, there will be dozens of shots where the peak of action was just ok. And we don’t know which is which until after we make the shot.

  2. Great shot. Brilliant moment captured!!

  3. Ray Robert Green says:

    @photogrill: Reminds me of the decisive moment.
    via twitter

  4. syaima rozlan says:

    @photogrill love this pic.Smart and cool
    via twitter

  5. Sue Pritchard says:

    @photogrill what a great shot!!
    via twitter

  6. Teneeattoh says:

    @photogrill http://twitpic.com/4944y5 – Super image
    via twitter

  7. @ttlochoa (ricardo cardenas) says:

    @photogrill great photo!!! (via twitter)

  8. Ollie Livas says:

    Awesome work! Keep posting good material.

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