Thursday, September 24, 2009

How a Photojournalist Captured that Moment of 'Lie!'

For those who've wondered how a photographer managed to snap that iconic image of Rep. Joe Wilson disrupting Pres. Obama's speech, we now have the answer.

Why was his camera trained on that particular Congressman at that particular instant? Did he have psychic foreknowledge that Wilson would yell, "You lie!" at that juncture?

The British Journal of Photography blog interviewed the photojournalist, and his answer amounts to this -- for professionals, it takes years of preparation to know how and when to capture that moment of truth.

Sure, luck was involved. But a "citizen journalist" in the same circumstance, without experience or training, would have missed it completely. Or, at best, produced a less memorable image.

The pro was Getty Images photographer Chip Somodevilla, and he reveals his secrets of how he did it here. There are lessons there for all visual journalists.

Food for thought: Would the moment have been better captured from a videojournalist's frame grab? Would a video of that episode, with lens trained on Wilson (instead of Obama, as we have seen), have had more or less impact than this still image that circled the globe?

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