An Adelaide yellow tram is photograph material
When Press Service International initiated its young writer program to Christian Today in 2010 with five young people writing “sport' the idea of a head and shoulder photograph to accompany their articles seemed both sensible and appropriate.
Such was its success that the young writer program was broadened to include young writers engaging in writing Comment, Music, Entertainment, Theology, Philosophy, IT, News, Mission, Society and the like. Each fresh young writer was requested to send in a suitable head and shoulder photograph to accompany their articles.
The photographs that came in were anything but uniform although 'sample photos' were sent to each fresh young writer. They came back to Press Service International in all shapes and sizes, some full body shots, some at angles, some had photographers standing on the ceiling to get such the 'classic shot', and it turned out to be a dogs breakfast of photographic styles.
So began a long overhaul process which continues so as to get a uniformity of head and shoulder photograph for all of the young writers.
The Warcry has many wonderful photos
These were some of the issues raised in this painful attempt:
Some would look in the mirror and say, “That's not me” ….. and then send in, what the editor referred to as a “Bad Pitt, James Bond or Julia Roberts” look-a-like photograph of themselves.
It seemed that few knew anyone who had a digital camera handy
Some thought they needed a professional photo shoot and pay big $
It seemed that no photograph ever would be suitable
Some took 'personal offence' when another photograph was requested
So began, what over a period time, a trauma filled set of correspondences in an attempt to get suitable and uniform photographs of the young writers. One thing we were mindful of is Christian Today's platform from Matthew 5 verse 37, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No', 'No'" - in another words, a lovely image of what each young writer looks like 'today' – certainly not two to three years ago.
The Stanford Grand is photograph material
The photograph can increase the readership
The point that Christian Today made, was that a lovely photo actually increases the readership of their column. The editor attended mini-conferences across Australia and to New Zealand for their young writers with his top rate camera and even some of those young writers rejected those photographs.
These are the steps we undertook to try to retrieve the photograph situation:
As the young writer editor and I travelled and met with young writers we would take fresh head and shoulder photographs.
Or, the young writers were encouraged to get someone to take a digital head and shoulder photograph under a tree (removing the shade light issue). Some have done this very successfully.
We appointed an independent photographic consultant to help each young writer come up with a photograph everyone could live with.
Press Service International and Christian Today have accepted the recommendation of the independent photographic consultant to aim for a refreshed annual photograph each September (Spring).
If agreement cannot be reached with a young writer, as a temporary measure, a Tronson du Coudray philosophical art work will be utilised to detail some aspect of the article. But this is only a temporary measure.
As each young writer is a volunteer to Press Service International, there is a reasonable approach to view the photograph as a request to uniformity, and we also realise some of the young writers are very particular about their photograph and their presentation to the outside world. In the end, decisions have to be made.
Moreover, we were recently delighted that the Christian Today 'Most Popular' list of the five most read articles (updated three times a day) had five of the young writers listed, which compete the top news stories of the day. This was remarkable, the first time PSI enjoyed a full sweep.
An Adelaide blue tram is photograph material
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at