When trying to decide what focus to choose for my journalism major, I went back and forth between electronic media and magazine. I wanted to do electronic media because I love film and I felt that of all the focuses, it would give me the best experience for pursuing a career in film later on. However, then I started thinking about what I like about film: cinematography. And really, the techniques of cinematography are very similar if not the same for still photography. I have always had a love of all things visual and being able to recreate what I see for other people. So, I decided that I wanted to pursue a focus in magazine in order to hone not only my photography skills but also my design and visual communication skills.
Magazines are very much about the visual. If they are not appealing to the eye they won’t get read. I believe that people read newspapers more for the content than the visual appeal or visual stimulation they get out of reading it. However, with magazines, the layout and visual style of an article or photo essay is much more important. In magazines, not only will an interesting headline or lead draw us in, but an eye-catching font or an interesting title page will do the same. The visual appeal plays a much bigger role in the success of an article than generally applies to newspapers.
In magazines, as in newspapers, photography plays an important role in helping to engage and further inform a reader about the story they are reading. But with magazines, photos can become the story in and of themselves rather than just supplemental, as in most newspapers. I have come to love photo essays and believe that sometimes, pictures can do more to tell a story than words. After all, the saying does go that a picture is worth a thousand words. Photographs allow readers to see exactly what a person, place or event looked like out without having to infer from just a word description. A picture also often times packs much more of an emotional punch than a paragraph and can do more to engage and interest readers. For example, one can only write so much about the way a surfer rides a wave. However, a photograph can show a reader exactly what it looks like when a surfer is completely engulfed in the tube of a wave or takes a big wipeout.
While I understand and appreciate the importance of the written word, and personally love to read and write, I also feel that journalism can take place visually without words. As journalists we are told to watch and to take note of what happens around us. Then why not capture our visual experience and show it to our readers? When this is done, we not only capture what we see as observers standing behind the lens, but a picture is also up for interpretation and allows our readers to make their own judgments on what they see.
In my career as a journalist I hope to be able to make use of my love for the visual in a way that supports and enhances the stories I cover.