Wick Communications

Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

When you hear, ‘No pictures!’

In Photography on 23 Feb 2018 at 3:36 pm

For Carina Woudenberg, Feb. 22 was an eventful day.

I called her before she even got to the office to say there were reports on Twitter of a shooting in one of our beachside communities. She agreed to head over there and ended up spending the rest of the morning there, doing what reporters generally do after cops close a crime scene. That is to say she waited. While she was waiting for the Sheriff’s spokesman to get his act together, she took some photos from the public street. That caught the attention of the guy you see above in the light-colored shirt. He didn’t like that she was taking photos of a crime scene. So, he berated her. He called her names. He threatened to sue. I’m sure it was upsetting to Carina, who was just doing her job from a public space.

As if that wasn’t enough, she got word shortly after noon that one of the homeless men who lives in a local encampment had died. Carina is a particularly empathetic reporter and has gone to the makeshift neighborhood many times. She got out her camera and began to take photos of authorities at work. She knows the kinds of things we might use from a scene like that. We don’t run anything graphic. Very rarely would we show a body, even from a distance or under a blanket. Nonetheless, she was accosted by a friend of the deceased who demanded she stop taking photos.

That’s two very stressful situations in a single day for Carina, who did her job very well that day, reporting the news and getting photos that only showed what anyone would see should they happen on these public places.

I think partly because there are fewer newspapers and professional photographers around now, the general public no longer understands First Amendment protections, that your right to privacy in many respects ends when you are in public. (That is a little odd since so many of us now have sophisticated cameras in our pockets at all times and it seems people are taking photos of everything all the time.) … Read the rest of this entry »


Taking photos of kids

In Photography on 28 Sep 2017 at 1:56 pm

This is Jamie Soja’s recent shot in the Half Moon Bay Review.

You’ve done something like this a bunch of times: You take your camera or cellphone to cover some community event. Say it’s the official unveiling of some new playground equipment at a municipal park. You talk to the city administrator and maybe the contractor, who are both there for the opening. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a very cute young boy going down the slide and into his mother’s arms. It’s the perfect photo for your story.

The right thing to do, before approaching children, is to find the responsible adult first. Introduce yourself, and ask if they would mind your taking a photo. Any parent would appreciate that. Most would say, “yes.”

However, the truth is that is not strictly necessary. I got to thinking about this because of a separate conversation with a Wick editor earlier this week, and I think it important to understand your rights. For instance:

“You have the right to take photos of any person from a public place (when that person) is in public,” writes California Newspaper Publishers Association legal counsel Nikki Moore in an email to me. “That doesn’t change for minors.” … Read the rest of this entry »

The photo I didn’t run

In Photography on 3 Aug 2017 at 2:50 pm

Last week, there was a murder in Half Moon Bay. Only it wasn’t a murder. And that last part further complicated an already difficult decision about whether to run a photo I knew would upset some people.

Some explanation is in order.

We don’t have many murders, thankfully. Maybe four in my dozen or more years here. So when arts reporter Sarah Greigo Guz called me one evening to say she stumbled onto a crime scene and the scuttlebutt was that there had been a murder, it was a big deal. We scrambled a news reporter and I made some social media posts, of course.

I also got a call from a local photographer, who said he had photos from the scene. I asked for them and he sent them, and my actual text back to him at the time was: “Wow.”

That is the most impressive photo above… Except I cropped out the “wow” part. Which is an unnatural act for a newspaper editor and required a lot of soul-searching on my part.

What you don’t see, off to the left, is a body under a white tarp. At the time, I was convinced I would run it full frame. That conviction changed over time.

First, I sent the photo around to Wick editors. I would say most people, about 60 percent of those who provided feedback, said they would run it for the same reasons I thought I would. It was big news, it occurred in public, there were likely already photos like it on social media. It wasn’t particularly gory. … Read the rest of this entry »

Editorial project idea No. 4

In Photography on 3 Mar 2017 at 9:07 am


As you know, immigration is a hot topic. The spectrum of public opinion ranges from throw the bums out to complete amnesty for those who crossed our border illegally.

Though many of our newsrooms are in communities with many undocumented immigrants, some of us struggle with covering that segment of our community. Sometimes it is a language barrier. Sometimes people who are here illegally don’t see the wisdom in advertising that in the local newspaper. Sometimes, I suspect, we merely have a cultural divide.

I’ve been thinking of ways we might bridge that gap and satisfy our call for a new editorial project in the second quarter of 2017. I have an idea: What if you gave a few immigrants disposable cameras for a week and then used the results as a basis for a feature story or a string of Instagram posts or a once-a-day Facebook post?

Doing so would solve a couple of problems. It would bring home a national story. It would put a face on people you might not be covering well. It would add photos to your newspaper. It would attract the participants (and their friends and relatives) to your paper. It might even give you ideas for more stories down the road. … Read the rest of this entry »

An important reminder about photos

In Photography on 13 Oct 2016 at 2:03 pm


Say something happens. It’s not photogenic. Maybe your city decides it’s going to replace a water line. You put together a web update so you can get the news out quickly. How do you illustrate that story?

The answer is that no art is better than stolen art. Running your story as text-only is a better idea than stealing a photo of water pipes that you find on the web. I know that flies in the face of what you may understand about creating greater web traffic, but things that aren’t ours, aren’t ours. To be clear: You are not free to Google around and drag just any photo into our content management system.

This week, I had a chat with Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. We talked generally about fair use and copyright and photographs and he noted a couple of important distinctions between things we might publish online and in print.

Things we post online are covered under the Digital Millennial Copyright Act. If you should receive notice from someone saying they own the rights to a photo that you accidentally ran online, the prudent action is to take that photo down while you research ownership. If it turns out to be a photo you own or one that you have express permission to run, put it back up.

Other key points:

Fair use: This doctrine of free speech protections is difficult to claim with photos. That is because you almost always use the entire image. Fair use applies to using a snippet of copyrighted material as part of your larger piece. You might quote from a Bob Dylan song, for example, as part of your story about his Nobel Prize. While you are free to do that, you are not free to copy and paste his entire memoir nor a copyrighted image of him you found online. … Read the rest of this entry »

Want to make better photos?

In Photography on 4 Mar 2016 at 8:35 am

It used to be that having your photo taken was a big event. Many of us can remember getting gussied up by our mothers and loaded into the station wagon for a trip to Sears, where a photographer would position us in some unnatural pose, next to our color-coordinated siblings, in order to capture an image that would live forever in the family photo album.

Now, we are liable to have our photo taken several times a day. We all walk around with cameras in our pockets. The advent of the cellphone camera has made picture-taking ubiquitous. That leads to a mistaken impression that it’s easy to take a telling, beautiful image.

This week, Tom Yunt forwarded a DIY Photograph interview with Steve McCurry. He’s one of the best photographers in the world. The 30-year-old iconic image you see above was his work. … Read the rest of this entry »

A library of images

In Photography on 28 Jan 2016 at 2:02 pm
library images

A very small portion of the images available, run very small.

Earlier this month, the New York Public Library made available 187,000 digital images from its archives – completely free from restrictions. That means you can use these gems on your Facebook page, website, blog or just to send to Aunt Greta because they are so danged cool.

I can’t possibly do justice to this treasure trove. You have to see for yourself. Navigating the website takes some getting used to – and make sure you check the box for public domain only if you want to use one. But it’s worth the effort. There are letters from presidents, posters from movies, book jackets, black and white images from the Depression … the images appear endless.

“These changes are intended to facilitate sharing, research and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds,” the library says in a statement.

One of the challenges of the digital age is figuring out what you can use to illustrate your stories. I have that problem each week with The Kicker. This is a big, big help for any digital publisher.


Photography is a tough business

In Photography on 24 Sep 2015 at 2:09 pm
What do photographers worry about? The World Press Photo Foundation answers.

What do photographers worry about? The World Press Photo Foundation answers.

More than at any time in the human history, our communication is dominated by photographic imagery. Yet, professional photographers have never been more endangered, professionally and personally.

They are laid off. They are attacked by angry crowds. In a world in which everyone has a camera in his or her pocket and we all seem to think of ourselves as photographers, the real pros are disparaged.

Yet, the work of the pros is instantly recognizable. Amateurs get lucky from time to time, but professional photographers get the shot every time. There are millions of photographs taken every day. If you are transported by one today, chances are it was taken by a pro.

This week, the World Press Photo Foundation, in conjunction with Oxford and Stirling universities, released a first-of-its-kind study of the work lives of professional news photographers the world over. The results are not surprising, nor are they encouraging.

Some key findings: Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing isn’t always believing

In Photography on 30 Apr 2015 at 4:08 pm

reverse image pic

I know that by now you have seen some disturbing images from Baltimore. There has been looting and rioting and misbehavior of many sorts after the death of Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody.

Most of us probably take the images we see at face value. Because we’re trained to believe our eyes. For generations, we got information from reputable sources and if the New York Times or CBS News or some other brand we trusted posted a photo like the one you see above, you had good reason to believe that it was from looting in Baltimore.

But the one you see above it not from Baltimore. Despite what “Da’Marious Trufton” would have you believe on Twitter, that photo is actually from the pillaging of a KFC in Karachi, Pakistan … in 2012. The Twitter guy apparently just found a photo he liked on the Web and made something up. It’s been retweeted a lot by people who took it as gospel.

I might have seen the tweet and believed it myself if not for a guy named Eoghan mac Suibhne. He’s a journalist for the online outfit Storyful and he used the tweet, and others of a similar vein, to remind us to verify photos before passing on this stuff as real news. Please remember this before retweeting things like the above photo in the heat of the moment. … Read the rest of this entry »

How dare you promote that!

In Photography on 19 Mar 2015 at 1:31 pm


Last week, I got what I took to be a most unusual complaint – except that it really isn’t all that unusual at all.

Half Moon Bay Review photographer Dean Coppola happened upon two young men digging holes at a local beach. He thought it would make a nice feature shot, a slice of life in a tourist’s beach town. I did too. You see it above.

We posted it on our website and again on Facebook and we soon began to hear from grumps who thought we were “promoting” the behavior seen in the photo. To understand why that would concern readers, see the photo of the emergency crews at the beach at the top of this post. Last June, a young, healthy man attempted to dig a tunnel in the sand. I’m sure it seemed like a harmless way to while away an afternoon at the beach. Except the tunnel collapsed and the man died under a ton of sand. I know, it sounds incredible.

So now some would tell us we shouldn’t ever picture anyone digging at the beach again.

I don’t agree. In fact, I don’t even really understand the complaint. … Read the rest of this entry »