How to nail a winning photograph

Award-winning news photographer Jason South gives his hints on how to take a photo that will make the grade for your local newspaper.

The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is true. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. This is becoming more and more relevant in the digital age – our attention span is lessening and videos and images are becoming the norm for effective communication.

However that doesn’t mean any picture or photograph will do. Photographs need to be engaging, not just a group of people staring back at the lens.

We asked award-winning news photographer Jason South for his suggestions on how to take a photo that will make the grade for your local newspaper.

  1. Keep it simple. (Not too busy or messy)
  2. Think about your light. You will get the best results in even light. Be aware of hard shadows across your subject’s face caused by the sun, maybe move inside or under a tree. Sometimes shooting the subject backlit (into the sun).
  3. Resist the temptation to include every single person involved in the story in the photo. Smaller groups or even single teachers or students doing or holding what the story is about will convey the message better than 25 people.
  4. Sometimes the picture is more interesting when the subject is not looking at the camera. They can be interacting or engaging with the other person, science project or sports equipment etc.
  5. If you are shooting a portrait, think backgrounds. Move your subject to a plain (not distracting) background or an area a long way from the background which will isolate your subject and make them standout. Pick areas that don't detract from the subject. For example, power lines or tree branches protruding from the subject’s head.
Return to top of page Back to top