Among all the (other) things that newspapers are guilty of, the very, very worst are the clumsily posed snaps that the hack photographers throw together to illustrate the story that the hack journo is covering.
As far as press photographers are concerned, the whole of the human condition can be distilled in just three basic expressions: anger, sadness or delight, or ASD.
Occasionally they get creative as in the example above which adds a soupçon of disgust to the anger of the “Sausage Woman”, but as a rule they stick to the tried and tested ASD.
To give a few examples of ASD, anger is illustrated by folded arms and a cross face posed by an unfilled pothole that has wrecked someone’s car. Sadness would be when the same pothole caused the car to run over someone’s cat, while a look of delight would be essential if the cat’s owner then had his head shaved to raise money for the feline defence league.
And there’s always a prop, like the sausage on a fork above to illustrate the Naked Neighbour ‘Put Me Off Men’ story from the Reading Evening Mail.
Or a bit of action, like pointing at the empty space where the cross person’s bit of road used to be, or delighted A-level students doing star jumps every August.
There is a reason for today’s lecture. Back in 2006 I wrote this very brief post on why people should never let themselves be talked into posing for a photo in their local rag.
It followed an article in the Altrincham Advertiser about Nicola Hardman’s lost shiatzu puppy which her partner managed to leave in the pub.
Nicola came across my post this week and left this salutary comment:
i would just like to write to you and let you know i have only just come across this article written about me back in 2006. Your statement is so god damn true but i was told to do that miserable and ugly face for the sake of finding my dog, to which i still have and he is healthy, loves his walks with me three times a day. Yes ive lost weight. That picture did me a real big favour. looking at the comments on me, well i am with them all, i looked terrible and NEVER in my life again will i ever have a photo of me in a paper. thanks
I’m pleased to say that Oscar was found safe and well and that Nicola looked much more natural in the follow-up story. It may have fallen into the delight category, but her happiness is genuine, not posed by the photographer.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to see more newspaper photos gone bad, then I recommend Angry People in Local Newspapers where I lifted the Sausage Woman photo from.