Join Paul Taggart for an in-depth discussion in this video Making the cold call, part of Learning Photojournalism and Photo Essays.
- Cold call is never easy and what I mean by cold call is picking up the phone and calling your subject for the first time. Essentially you're calling a complete stranger and asking them to give you permission to come take their photograph. It's not easy. I've been doing this for years and I still get really nervous. Leading up to making that first phone call, I'll procrastinate and put it off as long as possible. I think everybody probably does that. It's a pretty nerve-racking thing to just call a complete stranger and say, "Hey, can I come to your house or place of work "and take pictures of you?" But here's the thing you've got to remember.
Your project doesn't start until you make first contact. So, you know, harness the energy there and get motivated because until you pick up the phone and dial it, you're not starting your project. Or email, however you make that first contact. I'm gonna give you a couple tips to hopefully make this more efficient and make that first phone call a little bit more successful. The first thing is when you pick up the phone and call, you're probably not going to get somebody on the phone. You're gonna get a voice mail. And then, what most people do is then they wait and they wait and they wait until that person calls them back.
And here's what's gonna happen. They're not gonna call you back initially. So, be diligent. If you don't hear back in a week you've waited too long. What I do is wait maybe one or two days, get on the phone, call again. If you don't hear back from the email, email them again. And then, if that continues happening, maybe it's time to do a little bit more research and find some different subjects. But be diligent and try and get that person on the phone. Once you have them on the phone, the only real good advice I have for you is be completely honest. Have full disclosure about what it is you're doing.
Explain who you are and what your project is. What I want to do is just sort of engross myself in your life in the next two days. And you can show me around your workspace, your living space, your daily routines, your artwork. Basically everything. So? - Okay. - I think a lot of people sometimes, if they're not a professional photographer, and I hate using that term, but if they don't have a newspaper or a magazine or somebody backing them up, they get nervous and they don't make that phone call, which means that they're not starting their project.
And so, when I say full disclosure, hey, if you're not working for a newspaper, you don't have a press pass, or any of these things, that doesn't mean you can't call somebody and say, "Hey, I think what you're doing in your life "is so interesting I want to take pictures." You can totally do that. Just be honest. Pick up the phone and when you get them and you say, "I'm not a professional photographer, "but I think your life is interesting. "I am an avid photographer "and I really want to make a project about you." I think you're gonna be pleasantly surprised with the answer you're gonna get. They're gonna be flattered. So, don't hesitate.
Pick up the phone, call your subject and start your project. And last bit of advice, nine times out of 10 they're gonna say yes.
Most people think of news media when they think of photo essays. It's true that photo essays are one of the cores of photojournalism, but they're relevant in a lot of other ways, too—to document your family, the place where you live or work, or the business that your company conducts. The key is to think of a series of photos that work together to communicate your message.
In this course, photojournalist Paul Taggart outlines the fundamentals of shooting a photo essay, from thinking about your story photographically to presenting your final photo story.
- What is a photo essay?
- Shooting different types of photo essays
- Picking and researching a subject
- Planning and taking the shots
- Editing and sequencing images