By Chris Adams
Andrew Harnik of The Associated Press is a veteran, award-winning photographer who shoots everything from professional sports to the president of the United States. He has the best camera equipment at his disposal.
Yet in a pinch, he knows reporters will be well served by the little device in their pockets.
In a session with Paul Miller fellows, Harnik laid out tips for photography on the go, even if all you have is a smartphone. For reporters called upon to provide photos, videos and other forms of multimedia with their stories, that’s an increasing reality.
Among Harnik’s tips:
- Get closer. Reporters often shoot the whole room – when the subject, such as the president, might be far off in the distance. Instead, get as close to your subject as possible and try to make them the dominant image in the frame.
- Get low. Rather than looking down or directly at a subject, get lower to the ground. It often helps eliminate distracting backgrounds and can make the subject more the focal point of the shot.
- Find the red. In a pinch, find the color red. “That will always draw a person’s eye,” Harnik said. “D.C. is super gray and drab and dark.” It’s why you’ll see so many red umbrellas in weather photos.
- Take several photos from different distances: wide, medium and tight, and then one focused on the smallest details.
- Watch the background for clutter or visual noise – big graphic images, commercial signs, flag or light poles that might appear to be coming out of the top of a subject’s head.
- For outdoor shooting, the first hour and the last hour of daylight is always best. Shooting when the sun is high leads to heavy shadows and washed-out colors.
- Finally, shoot way more than you think you’ll need. Give yourself plenty of options to choose from.