“f/8 and be there.” It’s an expression — attributed to the 1930-40s New York crime photographer Weegee — that photographers often use when asked, “How do you get good news photos?”
The question implies good photos are a matter of what brand or type of camera, your technique, or what lens or ISO setting you used. The answer says none of that matters as much as actually being there when something is happening.
Reporters do not need to be there when news occurs. They can interview officials, eyewitnesses, even other reporters. A good writer can create a story that puts the reader at the scene. At its best, it can even be great journalism (but at its worst, downright deception).
I’m not always the first journalist there, but I still have to make a good news photo. So I make use of the aesthetic tools I have or tricks to frame a picture so it looks dramatic. (And sometimes I don’t even shoot at f/8.)
But if you’re a photographer for television, where the visuals are the most important element (and Action is even a part of some station’s name!), you just gotta be THERE. And fast.
For as long as I have been in Philadelphia, one TV photojournalist has always been there. No one was better at covering breaking news than Pete Kane, who retired last week after 47 years at NBC10.
He brought care and passion and creativity to his viewers on every story he covered. But he will most be remembered by his colleagues for how professional and helpful he could be.
His station also did an excellent story on his career and interviewed him live on his last day on the job.
Since 1998, a black-and-white photo has appeared every Monday in staff photographer Tom Gralish’s photo column in The Inquirer’s local news section. Here are the most recent, in color: