Category At Work

Honoring Those Who Served

Retired Staff Sgt. Stacy Pearsall has a piece up on Guideposts talking about how she started shooting portraits of veterans. Which would be a great story, but the fact that she’s a combat-wounded veteran herself makes it just a little bit better.

Almost hidden down at the bottom is a link to Pearsall talking about her portraits.

I was lucky enough to have her in a class at Syracuse many, many years ago. There are some students who you help, there are some that help you – she was the latter. I learned more from looking at her images than I’ve been able to teach.

Maybe My Kids Need More Time …

I try to keep things pretty tight on my academic schedule – assignments for the intro class go out on a Wednesday and are due the following Friday. Nine days seems like enough time for them to do some research, find a subject, try it out, see it doesn’t work, find another subject, get that one to work out then edit and submit.

Years ago, I would have killed for a schedule like that … in reality, many wait until Thursday afternoon, then scramble for whatever is available. I don’t like that, but I get it.

Now, if they read this post by Vincent Musi on taking eight years to get one story done, they’ll be complaining they need way more time … of course, he’s shooting for National Geographic and did a bunch of other pieces in between.

Still, a lesson for me, perhaps.

A Photojournalist-Eye View of Covering Football

The Columbia Tribune’s Daniel Brenner mounted a camera to his head and let it roll for eight hours while covering the Missouri-Georgia football game.

They get shuttles at Missouri? Nice …

(Thanks to Jake May for the link.)

On the Ground Coverage

The New York Times’ Lens blog has a post and video up of staff photographer Ozier Muhammad covering the People’s Climate March. A simple take, but worth spending a few minutes on.

Sometimes the size is so overwhelming it’s hard to find a picture.

(Thanks to Grant Blankenship for the link.)

MediaStorm Internship Applications Due November 1

MediaStorm, one of the top multimedia production companies, is looking for spring interns. You won’t create, but you will help produce.

Being Prepared to Cross the Streams

Very nice post by Sid Ceaser over at DEDPXL on being prepared.

Why the odd title? Go read and find out.

You can’t cross the streams unless you take a chance.

A Politician Documents Politicians

Short piece by the Washington Post’s Jackie Kucinich on Senator Patrick Leahy’s photo exhibit. Towards the end of the video is a nice segment about how he’s the only one photographing president’s actually signing documents – it’s a nicely different perspective.

Are Amateurs the Enemy?

There has been much consternation over the last, oh … 15 years … about the rise of the amateur and how he or she is impacting the profession of photojournalism. It is true that may photojournalists succeeded solely on their technical skills as photographers. Those are the ones who are most worried.

As camera technology has advanced, the expertise needed to make high technical quality images has diminished. Today’s cameras combine superb autofocus systems, stunningly accurate exposure systems and stellar chip performance. Many of our skills in reading light, balancing exposure and nailing focus have been automated, enough so that anyone with a large enough credit limit can enter the field in theory.

Over at Time’s Lightbox blog, Olivier Laurent takes on the question of whether amateurs are truly hurting our profession.

The answers may surprise you … and I agree with them. Photojournalism has never been about photography, it has been about story. I tell my students that the two hardest part of this calling have nothing to do with cameras, lenses or software – it’s where to point the camera and when to push the button.

A few years ago, Sprint ran a truly horrifying commercial where they talked about, “a billion roaming photojournalists.” Catchy, perhaps, and the spot has all of the up-swelling music and vibrant images you could ask for. But it was a lie.

Yes, a world full of camera-toting amateurs will capture a wide range of the human experience, but is that photojournalism? When the bombs went off inside the London subway tunnels in 2005 and two people started shooting photos, that was documentation. It was also – and this is not to denigrate the images or the photographers – low hanging fruit. The situation presented itself and they recorded it.

Is reporting something journalism? I have always held that journalism has a higher level of responsibility, to go beyond what happened and explain why it happened and what it means.

Will amateurs do that? Will they put the time into finding the source of stories, the beginnings of an event? No, probably not – they have other jobs and other responsibilities.

So how do we, as a profession of photojournalists, handle this? We do what we have always done – we tell stories that matter.

That’s it, that’s the secret – tell stories that people must see, tell stories that no one else is willing to put the effort into telling. It’s complex and it’s expensive, but more or technically better pictures isn’t the answer, it’s better stories. It’s stories that inform, stories that educate and stories that resonate.

Photoshelter Deal for Students

To all the students heading back to campus, PhotoShelter has a deal for you – a year of free services and a massive 70% off the second year.

If you don’t have a solid web presence yet, this is the time to get working on it.

Many Faces of the Same Man

There has been a lot written about the death of Robin Williams over the last few days, much of it touching upon nerves that run deep within me.

As a visual journalist, one of our challenges is sharing the personality of our subjects with our audience and Krystam Grow over at Time’s Lightbox blog has given us six images of Mr. Williams and snippets from the photographers who made them.