I have an affinity for feature photography. The definition of a feature photograph can be elusive, at times. Some journalists look down on feature stories or feature photographs. It's fluff. Eye candy. Not serious journalism. I once used a textbook that said feature photographs were the desserts that gave us a break from the meat and potatoes of news photographs. I no longer use that textbook.
Just peruse the winners of the Pulitzer Prize Feature Photography category over the years, and you'll understand that the above is not a sufficient or even accurate description of feature photography. Great feature photography can make us weep and shed light on some very serious issues in society.
The prestigious Pictures of the Year International photojournalism contest defines a feature photograph as: “Single photographs, candid and unposed, that reflect the human experience, celebrate life, or chronicle a cultural trend.”
I'm okay with that description. Especially the celebrating life part. I'm a hopeless optimist. Personally, I think feature photographs are the real meat and potatoes in journalism. It's just as important to examine real life – how we live every day – as it is to examine public policy makers and global issues. The fact is, one can photograph story-telling moments anywhere, at any time – not just in the context of breaking news events. Any time I can help others look at people, events and issues with a fresh eye, I feel I'm providing a public service.
Another Carol Guzy quote: "With pictures we can weep for Rwanda and rage at injustice everywhere. We also celebrate the daily life around us. It’s mystery and magic. It’s poetry and wonder."
This gallery probably spotlights my desire to make others chuckle. Everyday life is full of humorous moments, and sometimes I just can't help myself. Hopefully, you'll find some pictures that not only entertain, but reveal, reaffirm, or challenge something about ourselves as human beings and as a community. Or maybe just see something or someone in a new light.
One last note: the last five pictures in this gallery were shot with my iPhone. Some photographers are threatened by the ease at which people can make photographs these days. However, many award-winning photojournalists are embracing mobile phone photography and having a blast. Some people think Instagram is full of nothing but selfies and amateur snapshots, but there is some stunning and relevant work to be found there. So I began to get my feet wet this year. I still prefer my professional gear most of the time, but there are occasions when my iPhone is just the perfect tool.