Photo credit Janine Eduljee
Adam Glanzman. Photo credit Janine Eduljee

Earlier today my Digital Storytelling class was given the opportunity to hear Northeastern University staff photographer Adam Glanzman speak about his already accomplished photojournalism career, why he ended up at Northeastern and what makes a truly great photographer. For someone like myself who has always loved the idea of photography, but never fully dedicated the time to hone my craft, the discussion was illuminating to say the least.

Glanzman was most recently published in the New York Times for his feature profile of a 75-year-old champ arm wrestler Norm Devio who hails from Hopkington, Mass.

To say that the feature is compelling or “good” would be a gross understatement. The photos, while specifically selected to be in black and white, are colorful and personal, vivacious and unique. Glanzman had some great pieces of advice for aspiring photographers (which these days is just about anyone entering journalism – staff photographers at papers are few and far between). The first thing he talked about was what types of images to snap when covering a story:

  1. The wide shot: sets the scene.
  2. Human interest: a photo which humanizes, puts a face to your subject.
  3. Detail shot: “Something that kind of gives you a little bit of information but still keeps you guessing.”
  4. Portrait/personality shot: helps connect the reader with who this subject is, fosters a connection – if every other shot in your collection turned out to be garbage, this photo alone could keep the piece afloat.
  5. Ender shot: ties the story up nicely, “kind of gives a sense of finish.”
Adam Glanzman. Photo credit Janine Eduljee
Adam Glanzman. Photo credit Janine Eduljee

It was sheer serendipity (or talent) that brought Glanzman’s work to the Times. He had decided to profile Norm on his own, and had posted one of his photos to the blog “A Photo A Day” where it was seen by an editor at the Times. He got in touch with Glanzman, and after a few months of back and forth – including many more photos snapped, Norm’s tale made it to publication.

Particularly for today’s digital age, when the biggest resource a journalist relies on in their toolbox is a smartphone, Glanzman had some words of wisdom regardng the iPhone photography experience:

  • “Daylight is probably best for iPhones.”
  • You won’t get the same depth and feel that you would a traditional camera (flatness).
  • Clear your background – if it’s chaotic or cluttered, it will distract the viewer from the intended subject.
  • Place the subject only after you’ve checked the background.
  • Take a variety of shots (wide, medium, close up).
  • FOR EDITING: Optimize exposure.

It definitely provides a lot to think about going forward, whether I’m taking selfies with my friends for Instagram, or covering a major news event in the Boston area. Good photography is applicable in any situation and increasingly a vital tool for journalists in our digital world.

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