Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when taking photographs for the Beacon.
1. People! A photo without at least one person in it looks very uninteresting. Even if the photo is “about” something else, do everything you can to get a person's face (not just a hand or a leg) into the shot.
Faces! We try never to run photos of backs of heads. If that means asking people to pose for a shot, that's fine.
2. Direct sunlight is the casual photographer's enemy — it creates bright brights and dark darks, which look lousy in print. An overcast day is best. Failing that, get your subjects completely in shadow and try not to let any sunlit areas appear in the background.
3. Action shots are tough, even for professionals. Don't even try. Instead, ask everyone to pose, look at the camera, and smile.
4. It's photos of Andover people that we're looking for. A photo of someone from a nearby town at an event in Andover is OK, I guess, but I'll always be looking for one of an Andover person instead.
5. Set your camera's resolution so that at least one of the two numbers is 1,000 or higher. Less than that and the picture may be too small to look good in the Beacon. More than that is great.
6. Pictures from far away don't work (ie photos of performers, athletes, etc taken from the audience, the bleachers, etc.) Instead, you need to fill the photo with your subject. Don't leave a lot of empty space above or below your subject. Move closer if you can. Zoom in if you can't move closer, but try not to zoom all the way to the limit of the camera's zoom ability. Get closer instead.
7. If you're taking photos at an event where a lot of people are having a good time, don't try to get them all in one shot — everyone will be too far away. Instead, pick just a few people and get a good close shot of them having fun.
8. If you're shooting a big group (like a sports team), don't let them spread way out in a single row. Try for a “squarer” shot by bunching them up into three or even four rows. Keep telling them to get closer together, so you can get closer to them for the shot. That way their faces may actually be recognizable in the Beacon.
9. Once you've got them arranged, get so close to them that they fill the photo — there should be almost no space above or below them.
10. It's not a bad idea to set your flash so it always fires. If you're shooting indoors or in shade, the extra light (even if the camera doesn't think it needs it) will help make the photo look better in print.
11. Please turn off the automatic date stamp! If there's a date printed right on the photo itself, I'll have to edit it out, and that's usually difficult to impossible.
12. Get names (and the correct spelling!) of everybody in the photo. And be sure to tell me who took each photo — don't assume I'll know.
13. Don't take just one or two shots — take many! That way we can throw away the “oops” shots and keep just the best.
14. Please don't edit or otherwise tweak the photos before sending them to us. We have our own pre-processing things we have to do to each photo, and they'll turn out best if we're working with the original shot.
15. E-mail is by far the best way to send photos. Don't embed them in a Word document! That makes them unuseable.