A unique photography manual with brutally practical tips and tricks just landed on bookstore shelves. What’s behind the power of reportage? After spending over a decade travelling all around the world capturing the essence of moments with his camera, photographer Enzo dal Verme (he has shot for Vanity Fair, The Times, l’Uomo Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, Glamour and more) reveals some of his shooting tricks for an inside look at the world of reportage.
We decided to ask him a few questions…
Turnaround: In your book “Storytelling for Photojournalists: Reportage and Documentary Photography Techniques” you provide tips on what and how to shoot, composition, light, post-production and everything needed to deliver your work as a pro. What inspired you to write the book?
Enzo dal Verme: I wrote the very first edition because of all of the emails that I was receiving from photography students asking me for tips. It was a self-published PDF book targeted to those seeking advice, a sort of time saver tool for me. It turned out to be a success mainly among… professional photographers! It is indeed a very complete book, it covers a variety of topics designed to help create impactful images and compelling narratives. Many photography blogs wrote really great reviews and the manual became popular. One day I got an offer to publish an expanded and much enriched print edition, which is the current edition.
TA: What has been the reaction to this edition?
EdV: Actually I had two negative reviews. One of a young man that was expecting to find less information on how to market your pictures and more information on style (that I now added). And the other negative review was from a photojournalist really angry with me because he thought it was wrong to divulge the tricks of the trade. Apart from that, the positive reviews have been mind-blowing.
TA: In what ways do you expect readers to improve after reading Storytelling for Photojournalists?
EdV: My book gives brutally practical tips on how to conceive, organise, produce and deliver reportage, facts about the publishing market, and some technical advice. Shooting reportage can be quite complex because there are very many aspects to take into consideration. In summary, I could say that for me it all starts with a good idea that I am curious to explore and that has some potential to be published in a magazine. Then I document myself on the matter and try to find some good contacts. The pre-production phase is very important because it helps me get the best out of my trip and prepare for inevitable unforeseen events. Once I arrive at my destination and start shooting, I make sure I organise the pictures I take day by day keeping a constant eye on the harmony that needs to be created among them. Of course I also need to manage local contacts and optimise my schedule, which could include solving problems such as adverse weather conditions, fixing a broken camera or dealing with strikes, assaults, floods… Not to mention the endless surprises that a local contact might astonish me with! Then it’s post-production time, which could be quite lengthy if I want to deliver my reportage at the standard that I know my clients appreciate. All in all, it’s a very hard job. But it’s also extremely inspiring.
TA: What would you consider good reportage?
EdV: In my opinion, good reportage is inspiring, it triggers something in the viewer, perhaps challenging and unsettling his or her beliefs.
TA: What is your single most depended on photographic item – aside from your camera?
TA: Can you give us a brief rundown of tips for beginners?
EdV: Sure. First of all, ask yourself “Why do I want to shoot this reportage?” and make sure that your answer is fully, totally, absolutely convincing. You are stepping into something very demanding. Choose a strong and interesting topic. Be extra accurate in the pre-production phase, but be ready to change all and everything you had prepared so meticulously (shit happens). While shooting, don’t be a vulture, become part of the situation you are documenting. When it comes to composition, be mindful of the needs of the media that will publish your story. Give a harmony to the general impact of your reportage. Don’t forget the details. Keep your mind empty and curious at all times. Imagine that you are an infant with no memories and no history, seeing the world for the first time. Be extremely organized and disciplined in every phase (including scrupulous post-production). Acknowledge every single person who is helping you out.
TA: How long did the book take to write?
EdV: The writing itself didn’t take me too long because I only had to put down what I do all the time. What has been really time consuming is the final editing, adding all the resources and making sure that nothing was missing.
TA: How did you choose the pictures to include in the book?
EdV: All the images in the book (except one) have been shot by me. My selection illustrates the various topics. For instance, in the editing chapter I also include pictures that I consider not good so that the reader can have a visual support to what is described.
TA: What is the most important piece of advice you can offer for someone thinking of shooting reportage?
EdV: Enjoy being flexible and learn how to turn problems into opportunities.
TA: If a reader wants more after reading the book, do you ever teach workshops?
EdV: Not very often, but I do. All the details can be found here www.workshop-ritratto.it.
Storytelling for Photojournalists: Reportage and Documentary Photography Techniques was published on 28 July by Amherst Media. 9781682030004 £29.99