Project: What Unites Us

I seem to be spending a lot of time on The Washington Post’s web site this morning … in January, they did a project that involved having seven photojournalists interview and photograph people in all 59 states asking one question: What unites us?

The result is a massive gallery of portraits, text and audio files that they broke down into some general themes. (Recommendation: hit up a couple each day to get inspired.)

They also put up a short behind the scenes type piece about how the project was done.

Sense of Place

When we talked about the Places2Faces assignment, I mentioned that it was inspired by Michael Williamson of The Washington Post. He has a new gallery up that looks at a 7,200 mile journey along the Mississippi River and it is all about the sense of place he specializes in.

Think about how he uses light, color and space in his images, look at how they all have a level of human connection in them in either the physical or emotional presence of people. These are the details and broad strokes you should be looking for in Greene County next week.

And, really, in every story you tell.

Editing for Impact

This has nothing to do with what we’ve been working on, but it has everything to do with impactful storytelling. As you work on your doc, workshop and essay projects, think about how your images will work together – what leads to what? How does a character enter a story? How does a viewer explore them? How do you transition from one scene or location to another?

Grants, Projects and Research

Jennifer Meyers write a little about how she used the Mylio Grant to begin a project on forgotten homesteads.

The images are interesting to those of us who are interested in history and older structures, but read carefully about how she decided on the locations and the research she did.

Even after long drives to meet with history experts and local residents, I was surprised that the majority of time spent on this project involved online and library research.

That’s one of the key elements to a successful photo story or photo essay – you must have a deep understanding of the story you are trying to tell, not a superficial one. It’s like interviewing for a written story – if everything you know is in the story, you don’t know enough, you don’t know what doesn’t belong in the story.

On Creatvity

This piece from Photo District News on Claire Rosen’s book Imaginarium is worth some time, even if just for this one quote:

Our culture has shifted in such a way that it’s easier to be a consumer of content rather than having individual experiences.

Think about that as you work on your stories this semester – what can you show that can’t be seen elsewhere? There is no point in making images like everyone else, the distribution model is such that you can’t compete with everyone with obvious imagery, you have to go where others are not.

Photo Essay Examples

Here are the ones I meant to bring down …

  • Stacy Pearsall: We looked at this briefly but it is worth some more time.
  • Creative Desks: I like this idea, but I’m not thrilled with the execution. I’ve seen several iterations of a what’s-in-your-bag photo series, I’ve thought that could be interesting. (Especially if the R&B did it with faculty and staff members on campus …hint, hint)
  • Then-and-Now: This takes more research, but there’s a wealth of historic photos of Athens so you could use older images and blend them with new ones. You can do an overlay like these or you could do a slider.
  • 1960s TVs: This is an old and somewhat odd one, but it’s an interesting look at how Lee Friedlander saw how televisions were creeping into every-day life. Is there something now that is similar?
  • Trees: This Diane Cook and Lens Jenshel series about historic and important trees is visually stunning and each tells us something about the local culture.

Cragi Walker’s second Pulitzer Prize was for the story of Brian Scott Ostrom.

The Denver Post site is not currently loading the Ian Fisher pages, but you can try and see of it loads for you.

For next Tuesday, please have 4-6 ideas written out for your photo essay project.