"F/8 and be there” is a famous adage of photographic journalism. “f/8” is a standard lens aperture; the important part of taking news photographs is, therefore, to “be there.”
The saying is frequently credited to 1930s-1950s New York City photographer Weegee, the pseudonym of Arthur Fellig (1899-1968), but early printed citations are lacking. “It boils down to the old hackneyed phrase and joke: ‘F/8 — and be there’” was cited in print in 1973.
Some photographers believe that the adage is still relevant, but others insist that “being there” is not enough.
In optics, the f-number (sometimes called focal ratio, f-ratio, f-stop, or relative aperture) of an optical system is the ratio of the lens’s focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil. It is a dimensionless number that is a quantitative measure of lens speed, and an important concept in photography. The number is commonly notated using a hooked f, i.e. f/N, where N is the f-number.
Pg. 42, col. 3:
It boils down to the old hackneyed phrase and joke: “F/8 — and be there.”
Society for Technical Communication
Senior Assistant Editor Bill Garrett has a standard phrase he frequently uses on young photographers who insist on asking him his exposure for a certain photograph. “F8 and be there”, he tells them. To the professional photographer, the mechanics of equipment are second nature. The more Important thing Is to “be there”. I found this advice to be particularly apt on two recent photo-assignments.
Professional Photographer’s Survival Guide
By Charles E. Rotkin
New York, NY: AMPHOTO
I think the old-fashioned statement ’f/8 and be there!’ is true even today.
Truth Needs No Ally:
By Howard Chapnick
Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press
On “Being There”
There is a school of photojournalism which uses “f8 and be there” as its credo for great photography. “Being there” is not enough.
A Career Handbook
By Anna McKane
London: A & C Black Publishers Ltd.
The phrase ‘F8 and be there’ sums it up. F8 is a fairly obvious aperture setting and the implication of the expression is that the technology isn’t that important; being in the right place at the right time, however, is critical.
Raising Press Photography to Visual Communication in American Schools of Journalism
By Sherre Lynne Paris
Ann Arbor, MI: UMI
Known as the “f8 and be there guys,” press photographers from this era were necessarily trained to “shoot a whole war on two sheets of film: an overall of the battle scene, and the general who won” (Margaret Thomas, personal communication, May 12, 2007).
The Underwater Photographer
By Martin Edge
Oxford: Focal Press
There is a well-known maxim in photography, which says. ‘f8 at 3 feet and be there’. Whilst many of us will remember 3 feet, for the purpose of this example I shall use the equivalent—one metre.
f/8 and Be There – What We Can Learn From WeeGee’s Philosophy
BY D. TRAVIS NORTH ON SEP 22, 2011
“f/8 and Be There” – a famous quote attributed to Arthur “Weegee” Fellig, a world famous New York photojournalist and street photographer most known for his works in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Allegedly, this was his response to an inquiry into his photographic techniques. It has since become a philosophy of street photographers and photojournalists – even among professionals. But what is really the purpose behind the mantra, and what can we really learn from it? Street photographers and aspiring photojournalists should pay close attention today, because we are going to dissect the mantra today, and it should be an invaluable lesson.
Weegee’s response is beautiful in that it gives away the technical side of his two-part philosophy: f/8. That’s pretty much all you really need to know. In a word, he has given away the easiest way to ensure a crisp, clean photograph. He’s provided you with a formula, and a simple one at that. f/8, as we know, is a middle-ground aperture.
The Huffington Post
Joe Newman (Writer, Photographer, Media Strategist)
‘F/8 and Be There’—as True Now as It Was in Weegee’s Day
Posted: 06/12/2014 8:28 am EDT Updated: 08/11/2014 5:59 am EDT
Sally had her Canon 5D MIII set at f/8, a setting many documentary photographers and photojournalists use as their go-to aperture. (The legendary street photographer Arthur “Weegee” Fellig is often credited with first coining the phrase “f/8 and be there.")
By setting the lens at f/8, Sally created a wide depth of field, meaning that everything from a few feet in front of her to the back of the shop was going to be “reasonably” in focus.
The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA)
NOFD battles 4-alarm fire: Photo of the Day
By Andrew Boyd, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on February 25, 2015 at 11:26 AM, updated February 25, 2015 at 4:02 PM
There’s a famous old adage about the secret to great spot news photography: “F8 and be there.” What this saying means is the most important thing about great spot news photos is getting there first and fast. (F8 is a very middle-of-the-road standard lens aperture; the rest of the technical details won’t matter if you’re there shooting photos.) Reporters can always call and get a quote after the fact, but photos shot over the phone really don’t inspire.
New York City • Media/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • Wednesday, February 25, 2015 • Permalink