Writers learn photography tips during SPJ Georgia’s “Best Case/Worst Case”

-By Haisten Willis

SPJ Georgia members and selected guests gathered at Atlanta’s Indigo Yoga Thursday, Jan. 18 for “Best Case/Worst Case: Photography Tips & Tricks for Writers.”

The presenter for the evening was photographer Kevin D. Liles, a freelancer who shoots regularly for outlets like The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post and many others.

Unfortunately, writers today often have no choice but to shoot their own photos during assignments, which was the purpose of Liles’ presentation.

He began with “best case” tips. This is when a writer has a photographer with them or one who’s going to shoot the assignment later.

“After a story is written, have a conversation with the photographer about the story tone, details and important subjects,” Liles said.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution social media specialist and SPJ Georgia member Kimeko McCoy was on hand as well, broadcasting Liles’ words via Twitter.

Liles dazzled the crowd with several of his shots during the presentation, including photos of politicians, police officers, immigrants, restaurant owners and preachers.

He advised writers to trust the photographer they’re working with, and to provide lots of detail about the story without dictating exactly what to shoot. Another tip: Don’t use the term “My photographer.”

Writers should also be sure they allow the photographer enough time to set up shots. If the photographer is on-site during interviews, staying out of the way is another good idea.

“When you have a photographer on assignment with you, that’s the best-case scenario for me,” he said. “I feel like we’re a team.

Worst Case
Of course, best case is far from every case. Liles provided some handy information for writers on assignment with their own camera, even if it’s attached to a phone. 

For example, shoot horizontally oriented photos rather than vertical.

“The Web is a horizontal medium,” Liles said.

Some other advice:

If the lighting is bad, try to make it better by shooting from a different angle or turning lights on or off as needed. If the lighting is truly terrible, it can sometimes help to take the photo in black and white.

Time of day is important as well. Morning and evening are good times for photos. Overcast days are even better.

Liles ended by thanking the attendees and received a warm round of applause afterward.

For more of Kevin Liles, you can find him at ATL Photo Night, an event he hosts along with a friend. The next one is set for Jan. 25 at Switchyards Downtown Club.

Please check SPJGeorgia.com soon for more announcements about upcoming events.

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