Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ready, set, tell stories!

One of my favorite feature photos I took years ago.

   It's finally time to pull out that camera and push the shutter button. You are ready to tell stories.
   You've been busy the past six weeks learning the journalism part, which concludes this week with lessons on how to write accurate, concise captions using the Associated Press Styleguide. Now it's time for the photography part.
   You're first shooting assignment will be hunting for features, an integral task of all photojournalists. What are feature pictures? Features document life around us in a positive way. They are the photos that make readers smile. They are the snapshots of people that end up on refrigerators and office walls.  Feature pictures also help take the sting out of the hard news photos, and that's why photojournalists like taking them - for the balance of good and evil.
   Keep these things in mind when I send you out there Monday to find people doing everyday things, like flying kites, fishing, enjoying an ice cream cone on a hot day, or fighting with a broken umbrella on a rainy day. Whatever the subject matter, try to remember that you're not just taking a photo for yourself, you're actually freezing someone's moment in time, and how cool is that?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Teaching what the heck reciprocity means

   We officially ended the law and ethics portion of study today with a fitting conclusion - a 40-point test. I'm happy to report everyone passed! So, with a basic understand of what news is and what their rights are, we are moving on to my favorite part of the course: explaining camera controls, exposure metering and compositional elements.
   This morning, when I asked the students what reciprocity means, I mostly got blank stares. I understand that, considering it took me a few weeks just to learn how to say the word. I know what they were thinking: what the heck is reciprocity? It's a math miracle! The concept of taking these weird sets of numbers (ISO, shutter speeds and f/stops) and making them work in unison is amazing stuff, and I love teaching it. OK, I admit the reason I enjoy teaching is because it makes me feel, well, smart.
   I started out as a journalist. I'm pretty good with words and have a knack for spelling. So, when I started taking photos for my stories (when I was a cub reporter), the camera controls were totally confusing to me. It wasn't until I was an assistant instructor at a two-week Army photojournalism workshop in the early 1990s that it clicked. I've had a yearning to be a teacher ever since.
   Maybe it's a good thing that a word person is teaching a numbers game...because I can sympathize with the blank stares and the resistance to memorize 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 and 22. Brilliant.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our First Amendment rights

The First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

   The First Amendment is only 45 words, but among those 45 words are five personal freedoms that guide how Americans have lived since 1791. 
   This first amendment in the Bill of Rights is uniquely American, though I think this world would be a far better place if it was a document that governed every nation on the planet. Can you imagine if leaders in Iraq, Africa and Syria were committed to The First Amendment of the Planet Earth? 
   The freedom of the press is especially valued by our democratic nation because it allows journalists to report on our own government without fear of being arrested or murdered. This is not a right we should ever take for granted, which is why the PHO245 students dedicated this past week learning and understanding what the First Amendment means to them, as scholastic journalists.
   Check out their most recent blog posts to see what they have to say about this very important subject. Links to all of their blogs are available at the top of this blog.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

All blogs accounted for

  I'm proud to announce that all nine student blogs are available for your viewing pleasure. Just click on the links above. Thanks.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Let the blogs begin

   It's already Week 3, and the students are busy tweeting and blogging. I couldn't imagine teaching photojournalism without social media.We must adapt and embrace technology as the delivery system of the news changes. And it is changing. In fact, a few days ago I received the Buckeye Guard Magazine in my snail mail box. It came to me the old fashioned way, but on the cover was the announcement that it was the final issue. The hard copy of the award-winning monthly military magazine is going online. This sentence in the article titled Farewell to an icon: Buckeye Guard in transition on Page 4 says it all, "Please join us and engage in our social media space at...Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr."
   I'm keeping this issue because not only does it represent the future, it reminds me of my past. I was a military photojournalist for that magazine for 13 years.
   Social media is not the future anymore. It's the present. It's here right now, and students need to be prepared to share their photography, stories and experiences anyway they can in order to compete in a point and shoot world. This is my justification for teaching them to be engaged in social media.
   As of late Monday night, there are only two students who have their blogs listed in the blog roll, but there will be nine by the end of the week. I can't wait to see what they all have to say!