by  Christine Elasigue

Last month I received a re-tweet of a blog posting by John Loengard on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider website. The blog is titled The Role of the Photo Editor. I read the posting not once, not twice but three times because it was so inspirational.

In 1999, I set out to be a photo editor or photo producer.  As a photo desk assistant I used to love to watch the photos from the freelance photographers and wires upload in the system.  It was interesting to follow the path of the photo from beginning to printed page or published on the website.  Watched and learned from the experienced photo editors what make a great photo and what is the proper photo for the story.

Today websites are publishing more and more photo galleries to entice readers.  I visit sites like The Huffington Post and see titles such as “Top 10 HIPSTER Schools” or “Dogs In Crazy Costumes”.  Yes, these galleries are quite amusing and entertaining but hold no real value or thoughtfulness.

I ponder will the photo editor or photo producer exist in 10 years? I hope so.

Here is an excerpt from Loengard’s and hope you get inspired:

Don’t try to tell a photographer how to take a picture, (except, possibly, suggesting some special effect).   You want the photographer to follow his own instincts.   You should, however, let the photographer climb upon your shoulders for a better view.   That is, explain your thinking about the story.   Talk about what might happen.   Wonder if the man who invented “Post-its” would stick one on his nose.   Raise the possibility without demanding to see it.   Instead, expect to see something better.
Encourage good photographers to work for themselves, for posterity, for their grandchildren-not just for you.   A photograph that solves a magazine’s problem is more interesting when the solution is something you remember after the problem is forgotten.

Text editors do their work after the fact.   But because photographers have something in common with Babe Ruth-they either hit the ball or they don’t-almost everything a picture editor does is done before the pictures are taken.   What can you do after a home run except smile?

No photographer can go out today and take a photograph that sums up the Obama Administration.   Photographs don’t generalize.   But a detail, when photographed, often conveys a sense of a whole.   A finger, the man.   A leaf, the tree.   A curbstone, the city.