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Using photos to set a tone

Capturing the essence of a person or an event is a worthwhile effort.

Brent Murphree

March 28, 2022

2 Min Read
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A photo by John Gibson captures the planting season on Justin Cariker's Maud Farms in Dundee, Miss. John Gibson

Photographs set the tone for the articles we run online or in print. For instance, a head-on photo of a tractor with a planter was taken by John Gibson on Justin Cariker's Maud Farms in Dundee, Miss.

It was the perfect shot to highlight the National Cotton Council's planting intention survey in the March 4 issue of Delta Farm Press. A lot of thought goes into choosing the photos we use for every story.

One of the perks of what I do is going through the photos that everyone takes or attaches to their stories. My favorite stories are the ones that include photos of the people we feature in Delta Farm Press.

The biggest reason I use social media is to look at the pictures of family or friends as they go through their lives. Whether they be photos of current activities or things that took place in the past, I'm usually drawn into the visual story.

I keep a bulletin board next to my desk for important notes I use in my work – deadlines, formatting guidelines, important phone numbers. Interspersed with the information are photos of friends, relatives and past adventures.

One of my favorite pictures is a photograph of three old farmer friends standing in front of Deer Creek Falls at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The smiles on the faces of the three are representative of the emotions we felt on the eight-day float down the Colorado River. It always brings me back to an exceptional, adventurous place in my memories.

My youngest niece, Bethany, always has a smile on her face. Although 17 years have passed since the photo of her that I keep on display in my office was snapped as a baby, her toothless smile beams brightly as if she knew the joy she was bringing to everyone who sees the picture. I laugh when I see it.

Several months ago, a friend on Facebook posted a series of photos of people he knew from his small Mississippi town. They were taken on the street. The photos were unposed and in black and white. They took you to a place in time. They felt familiar and evoked a sense of place and community.

I recently chose a photo of someone I know for a recent issue because he had a familiar, almost hidden smirk on his face. While there were other photos of that person that looked very professional and straight forward. I knew that others who knew him would recognize the slight smile and recognize the sense of humor that underlies most of what he says and does.

If someone can capture an essence of a person or an environment in a photo, it is a worthwhile effort. At the very least, we can look at it later and evoke a memory or an emotion.

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