Worth Publishing?


I’ve just been reading an article on the web site of the US National Press Photographers Association,(NPPA) about research they funded into ‘what makes a photograph memorable, shareable, and worth publishing.’ Eyetracking Photojournalism is certainly an interesting read for photographers and the study showed that people could tell the difference between professional and amateur photographs, at least from the pool of published images they showed to the 52 participants in the study.

The study involved an analysis of the eye movements made by people as they looked at the images and also interviews with those taking part, who were asked to rank images in various ways.  And the NPPA were obviously very pleased that it showed that people could recognise the difference between the work of the professionals and UGC (user generated content) and appreciated the professional work.

This is only the first of what the NPPA promise to be a series of four posts, and we will shortly be able to see the 200 pictures used. While I applaud any study that shows the audience appreciate good photographic work (even if the accountants don’t) I do have a few doubts, not least because of the rather average (and sometimes downright poor) professional photography that many of our news  media are prepared to use.

Of course, none of us are always at our best.  And sometimes the picture we get, while not being brilliant, is the only picture available, and there are some of my own like this that I wince at when I see them in print. I know I could and should have down much better. But rather more frequently I see lacklustre images by others being used when I know that much better – either my own or by other photographers – were available.

We do exist in an age of image saturation, with more photographers than ever taking more pictures and submitting more through the various channels available. I hope that studies like the NPPA one will encourage the media to try and discriminate a little more over which pictures they choose to publish, but I fear it will have little effect. Speed and cost are now more important than quality.

But I was pleased to see the picture at the top of this post which I took on Monday being used in at least one publication. I’ve photographed Vivienne Westwood on a number of occasions, and took a great many pictures of her at this event, of which this one, for me at least, stood out.  Her expression is of course the main thing, but also I think I got the framing right – just enough information for it to be clear what she is speaking about and where she was speaking.  

There were possibly another hundred photographers taking pictures (the kind of situation I hate) but I’ve yet to see another that seems to me more than routine. And I think – perhaps I’m kidding myself – that it well illustrates some of the things that people in the NPPA study are quoted as saying.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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2 Responses to “Worth Publishing?”

  1. rdwood says:


    Peter, you might like to look at the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’s ‘Life of Today’ (28 Jan 2015). It has also been sent out as an email or as a RSS newsfeed to subscribers under a tag of ‘Parliament Square’, for it is the ODNB’s article on ‘Haw, Brian William (1949-2011), anti-war campaigner’, by John Rees.

    Any full citation should as follows:
    John Rees,’Haw, Brian William (1949–2011)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2015 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/103787/

  2. Thanks for the reference. I managed to read it though at first it wouldn’t let me see it as I don’t have a subscription.

    Of course I took many photographs of Brian. My favourite was of him wearing a t-shirt by disablement activist Dan Wilkins and is at

    It also includes Babs Tucker, who continued the protest after Brian became too ill to stay in the square.

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