Stories to Study

To give you a sense of the types of stories other programs are working on, take a look through the CPOY Domestic Picture Story and Documentary categories from the last few years. A few to note:

You should also look through the student work on the Alexia Foundation web site.

There’s also this one, by Craig Walker at The Boston Globe on Raising Connor you should look at.

Why do these stories work? What do they have in common? Why did these journalists pursue them? Who benefits from seeing them?

Lastly, this column by Tim Wu at The New York Times is worth a read. I love this quote:

Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes.

ASSIGNMENT: Shoot2Sound

Now for your first shooting assignment … in class, you were given a transcript for a series of audio recordings. Those are available here:

Campus Walk audio files

Read through the whole script, that will help you figure out where you start and end your segment. Make note of the items that should be in your piece and then go make those images. Think about the time of day, this describes a morning walk across campus but some of it will be timed to class changes to get the images right.

Once you have your images, use the audio file for your segment to turn it into an audio slideshow in Premiere. Upload the exported video file to eLC by 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 3, we’ll watch them all in class on Monday.

This is an exercise on learning to show what you hear and on how to see small details around you. Do not overthink this. You don’t need any titles or graphics on this, but do make note of the naming convention on the PDF.

Remember that we will have the publisher of the Dahlonega Nugget here on Wednesday – be prepared with a lot of questions for him.

ASSIGNMENTS: Observe, Watch and Read

A couple of things to be working on … as discussed in class, I’d like you to find a place to camp out for 60 minutes and watch what happens. Find a place with some foot traffic, people coming, going and interacting – that’s key, there needs to be some sort of interaction to watch.

Record everything you witness – what people are wearing, body language, moments big and small. Do they seem anxious? Happy? Lost? Did they come in alone and meet someone? Did they come in with someone and leave alone? Think about how the place intersects with the people.

Please do a running time log on this to give you some ideas on how things progressed and hand write it – there’s a lot of evidence that writing out notes by hand encodes them deeper in your brain and makes the notes themselves more meaningful. (You can usually type quicker, so you tend to transcribe and not process/assess information.)

Bring a typed printout to class on Wednesday, January 23.

Next, you need to log in to Lynda.com (which you can do through your UGA account for free) and watch the David Hobby series The Traveling Photographer: The Basics. Total time to watch all the segments is 2 hours and 19 minutes, so make a lot of popcorn and take notes.

Why am I outsourcing you to Lynda.com? Well, Hobby is probably a lot smarter than I am, particularly when it comes to travel work. I went through this series over break and took pages of notes. So I could rework all of them into a presentation or I could just have you go to the source. There are tons of tips in here that will help you as you prepare for your projects and the workshop.

From your notes, pull out your Top Five Tips and be prepared to discuss them in class next week. They can be anything from research to technical to travel preparedness – there isn’t anything in that series that isn’t relevant to our work this semester.

Lastly, please take a read through this interview with Tamara Reynolds. I’m going to send you to lots of interviews and profiles this semester, take what you can from all of them.

ASSIGNMENTS: Updated Deadlines

All deadlines are at 5 p.m.

  • April 4 – Doc Project: Second look (five photos)
  • April 9 – Doc Project: First listen (30-60 seconds of sound, an audio trailer)
  • April 11 – Essay Project: Final edit
  • April 18 – Doc Project: Final edit

ASSIGNMENT: The Woodall Weekend Workshop

On eLC, you’ll find four folders to drop images into.

  1. The Top Five: This one has a deadline of Tuesday, March 27, at 5 p.m. and is for the Top Five images from your weekend. They can come from the Places, Faces or Project assignment and should work as individual images.
  2. The Place: These are the images that represent the Place of Greene County – anything from landscapes to images that represent how the citizens exist within their community. Minimum of five, no maximum. (Due at 5 p.m. on April 1.)
  3. The Face(s): These are the Faces of Greene County – the people you’ve met outside of your primary story, the characters that constitute the community. Minimum of five, no maximum. (Due at 5 p.m. on April 1.)
  4. The Story: This is your primary story, delivered in three parts (Due at 5 p.m. on April 2):
  • The Multimedia Story: An audio slideshow featuring your images and audio you recorded during the weekend. This is the primary storytelling device of the weekend.
  • The Images: This is an edit of the photographs for your story. It can (and probably will) vary from the images in the audio slideshow. Think about how images in a gallery or layout would work together. (Expectation is 15-20 images here, but that’s not a hard-count.) Captions matter. Make sure they are at full resolution, JPG format and compressed into a folder.
  • The Narrative: To work online or in print, you will need a short (350-500 word) written story. You can use quotes from your audio interviews where appropriate – this is essentially a basic news/profile piece. (Word format only.)

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?