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Feature Photography;Special Moments in Photojournalism

Updated on August 2, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

Photographing police is acceptable so long as you do not interfere

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Any news worthy event is usually covered by many photographers

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CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Armed conflicts are always dangerous and emotional to cover but others can be just as emotional

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Warning: Photographs include strong subject matter which may not be suitable for everyone.

Feature photography is not per se a genre in photography, rather it is part of photojournalism. But every so often out of the photojournalism files comes an image which by itself stands alone.

Words are not needed, the photograph is admired and appreciated just by itself. This is what feature photography is most like. It is one of a very few genres in art that is honored by being awarded a Pulitzer prize in both amateur and professional classes, both color and in black and white.

"The Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography has been awarded since 1968 for a distinguished example of feature photography in black and white or color, which may consist of a photograph or photographs, a sequence or an album.

Before 1968, there was only one photography category, the Pulitzer Prize for Photography, which was divided into spot news and breaking news and the feature categories.

The Pulitzer Committee issues an official citation explaining the reasons for the award." Wikipedia

Feature photography in essence can be said to be an image or series of images that tell a story from a newsworthy perspective. It allows the reader/viewer to get a sense and understanding of the story behind the image(s).

Feature photography is perhaps best exemplified by Robert Capa's "The Falling Soldier" taken in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. The photograph shows the moment of death of a Nationalist soldier during the civil war.

Although recent questions have arisen claiming that this photo was staged, it still remains one of the more memorable examples of feature/photojournalism photography.

Another exemplary photograph is the one featuring an Oklahoma City fireman carrying a girl out of a bombed out building. Very few images ignite emotions as this particular shot did.

Few people are cut off for this type of photography, since it most poignant images often involve scenes of chaos, suffering, death and human tragedy.

Most photojournalists strictly follow a policy on non interference and it is for this that their work is most often viewed critically and the photographers accused of being detached and labeled as opportunists.

But the risks that can be brought up by their interference are large, such as acquiring a disease, being subject to arrests and even of losing their lives.

For a photograph to be designated as feature photography, it must capture a pivotal moment within a general event. The event can be of a social nature, sports oriented, daily struggles and even ordinary everyday happenings.

But they must be able to invoke a feeling or reaction on their own merits apart from the general event. In few words, the photograph tells the story without the need for words.

In photojournalism photographers shoot images to substantiate a story, to cover an event, even to tell a story. But an astute photographer will try to capture moments that are part of the scene but tell a powerful tale by themselves.

Examples would include a moment of triumph when a marathon winner crosses the finish line. This in itself is a good shot, but a more memorable shot would be when the last runner, who is on a wheelchair crosses the line, raises his fists to the air and shouts in ecstasy all while hundreds of well wishers are cheering him on.

A tragic development, when all heroic attempts to save a stranded victim fail. An act that changed everything,the dropping of the first atomic bomb. A key point in a struggle, when the American flag was raised on a mountain top after a long and ferocious fight.

The market for feature photography is the same as for photojournalism, with the exceptions that photographs which are deemed to fall within the realm of feature photography are often exhibited in galleries, published in books, magazines and even in museums exhibits.

Feature photographs are never planned, the photographer instinctively knows when a photo is a Feature Photograph, years of experience tells him or her so.

But you can go to an event with the intention of taking feature photos. Sporting events, political events, courtroom dramas and several other situations lend themselves for this. Careful planning and a very keen eye, plus the ability to anticipate can yield the results that you are looking for.

If you intend on concentrating on feature photography, be aware that you will subjected to criticism strongly tied to the images that you take.

Many feature photographers will tell you that they have had to endure severe criticism as a result of some of their work. Kevin Carter, who won a Pulitzer prize for one such image, has often spoken publicly about this.

If photojournalism is for you and you have decided to pursue this genre, do so with caution, do it for the love of the art and of your work, be conscious of everything around you at all times, and remember that sometimes one photograph is enough to change the minds and hearts of those who can actually do something, and this is often the reward.

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Violent events demand that you be on the look out at all times

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Some photographs are painful to look at but they can also bring about change

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Tips for how to become a photojournalist

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Sometimes news can bring people together to express the same feelings

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez

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    • PhotoTljn7 profile image

      PhotoTljn7 

      6 years ago from United States

      Luis thanks for sharing this photojournalism hub with us... great Hub!

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      7 years ago from United States

      Great hub and information, as always, Luis. I learn quite a bit from you.

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