New Editorial Image

This image ran with a feature in Fire Chief magazine last month (9/10) and I shot the image specifically for editorial use to go with either radios, communications, or incident command.

I thought I would talk about shooting both photojournalism and editorial images at the same time, much of it overlaps, but there is a lot of very deliberate action involved as well.

Firstly, when I am covering an incident, whether it be fire, accident, shooting, explosion, whatever..... I am there to document the scene as it is. As a photojournalist, I have a story to tell. The images show emotions, they show damage, they visually describe what is happening, drama and passion make for compelling imagery. Sometimes, you get lucky when one of those images fits perfectly with an editorial assignment, or other assignment later on, however, I ALSO need to create editorial images while I am there, with specific subjects in mind.

Editorial imagery is also telling a story, though, it may or may not be the same story you are telling as a photojournalist. Let me explain using this image I shot for Fire Chief as an example.

As a documentary image, you see action and drama in the background, smoke, fire hoses, and in the foreground are two officers, analyzing the situation, exhausted. Their faces are red from the heat, sweat pouring from their faces.... it's hot, it's unfolding right in front of you. That is photojournalism... THIS story is about two officers directing their men in an intense situation. Your audience is pulled into the moment and wants to know, "What happened, where did it happen, when did it happen?".

NOW... as an editorial image. The editorial audience are senior fire officers who have been in this situation a thousand times, it's not drama to them, it's just a glimpse into a single incident that those crews handled that day. This audience looks at the image and begin to discuss tactics and communications, and leadership. The image immediate reminds them of the stress of communicating effectively in tactical situations.

Of course, this is no rule, but what you often see is that in photojournalism the image describes an event, while and editorial image illustrates a specific subject. Some images can overlap, some are carefully planned and executed.

When I am shooting images with a focus on editorial usage later on, I am thinking in terms of subjects, such as 'apparatus staging,' 'extrication equipment,' 'incident command,' 'communications,' etc. I know that an article about where to stage your ladder or engine at a roll-over on the highway will focus on the safety of those at the scene, and building a box of vehicles around the scene to protect it. If I want to photograph that, I need an angle showing just that, maybe a high vantage point that shows the trucks parked in such a way that if a vehicle were to crash into the fire truck, none of the crews working the scene would have been in any danger. if that makes sense? Editorial photography illustrates a subject.

This image illustrates exactly what I was describing. In this photo, in Mesa, AZ., a city bus was on fire on the highway. The bus in on the shoulder on the left side. Look closely at the trucks in the image, they are positioned to push traffic away from the scene, and to build a protective box for the firefighters working on the bus fire. Without the box, a distracted driver can hit and kill a firefighter, with the box in place, the distracted driver would hit the trucks, and not the fire crews themselves.
YES, this image overlaps. Its photojournalism because it tells the story of the incident, but it is editorial because it illustrates exactly how to place your apparatus.


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