Wick Communications

Overcoming the photo op

In Photography on 22 Apr 2010 at 3:36 pm

We have all been to lifeless assignments designed solely to make us take a boring picture. The hospital has a new chief executive. The Rotary Club gives its annual awards. The City Council breaks ground on a road project.


Well, you can lead a reporter or photographer to the PR watering hole, but you can’t make us drink.

Recently, we assigned Half Moon Bay Review photographer Lars Howlett to cover the groundbreaking of a new bike and pedestrian trail along a busy highway. We knew we were setting him up for something horribly boring – men and women in suits and hard hats, pretending to dig into the soft earth. Luckily, Lars was having none of it.

Here’s what he says about the assignment, in a feature called “Sight Seeing” which we run in our monthly magazine…

It’s easy enough to snap a suitable photo at a press conference or media event. They are organized, after all, to allow for a quickly assembled news piece. I had a suitable photo within 30 seconds of showing up at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new multi-use trail along Highway 1. Then I stepped aside as another photographer took a turn.

Instead of packing it in, I waited to see if anything a little less formal might transpire. Eventually, the dignitaries became a little more playful with the shovels. I was able to compose a more candid and dynamic photo. At the same time, by a stroke of luck, a pedestrian walked along at the edge of the street, allowing me to include evidence of the real need for the trail project.

You see the results of Lars’ tenacity in the photo above.

Also, you should know that Lars took the photo the dignitaries wanted – the usual thing with the hard hats and shovels poised above the dirt. That made them happy and allowed them to let down their hair a little. I suggest giving them what they want, but also giving readers what they want by actually printing a more interesting photo.


  1. When they had the groundbreaking for the $213 million port of entry expansion project in Nogales(a huge deal here)they had placed the chrome-plated shovels on a rack by the stage where all the dignitaries were. I got over there and shot all the spades in a row. It made a nice effect we ran on our front page. I’ll email the photos and pdf.

  2. It’s really incredible, Manny. Great Job. I’ll brag on it this week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: