Shutterbug has not bitten

Published 9:23 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2011

By Alison McFerrin

I have a confession to make. Photography is not my strong suit.

I took a photojournalism class in spring of 2011, and I never could seem to cultivate the eye other students had for the components of a truly good picture.

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I seemed to be one of those ‘theory, but not practice’ students — when it came to a classmate’s work, I could tell what was a good picture and what wasn’t, but when it came to putting that knowledge to the test, I never got the results I wanted.

And yet, I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures. I’m the one at family events and get-togethers with friends who has always been the first to whip out a camera.

And I try to imagine where we’d be without photographs.

Because as a journalist, I can write about anything. I can use similes, and metaphors, and every other literary device out there to infuse color into sometimes lifeless words, to try to make that story exciting.

But let’s face it — every newspaper reader looks at the photo first. It’s photos that draw people in. It’s photos that pique our interest, pull our heartstrings, and tickle our funny bones.

And what would our lives here be like without photos? I doubt Old Cahawba would be as interesting with only the Crocheron Columns and no picture of the house that used to stand there. The history surrounding the Edmund Pettus Bridge would excite no one without the photos of the crowds. Our historic grandeur would be severely minimized, without the tangible images that show us how our world has changed.

As I said, I’m not a photographer, and no photo I’ve ever taken could be the pivot point on which history turns. But through time I have come to realize the value of the printed image — maybe even over the printed word.

And behind every great photograph is a great photographer. And so I tip my hat to skill that I admire and respect — one I must concede I will never cultivate.