Thursday, October 27, 2011

PHO245 students participate in art show at Toledo Museum of Art

Opening reception for a student art show at the Toledo Museum of Art attracted lots of attention from family, friends, instructors and art lovers. The show is called 4 Art: Student Art from Bowling Green State University, Lourdes University, Owens Community College and the University of Toledo. (Photos by Lori King)
Former PHO245 student Kathie VanNess, left, with family members, shows her Ballerinas, a digital print.
Former PHO245 student, Katherine Cedoz, takes a photo of her photo, Toy Camera Triptych/ All in a Day. Holga C-print.
This great studio portrait is by current PHO245 student Amy Everett. This is what I'm talking about!
This digital photo, entitled Honey Pot, is by current PHO245 student Cheri Guthrie. It wasn't her favorite, but my mom
likes it!

    Congratulations to the former and current PHO245 students who were among 100 college artists chosen to display their photography in the new exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art.
   The free exhibition will be shown through Jan. 12, 2012 in the Museum’s Community Gallery.

So it's raining...that's what trash bags are for!

Reaction can be just as powerful as the action.

Southview vs. Northview in district semi-final Oct. 26.
Metadata = Lens: 300mm / ISO: 2500 / Aperture: 4 / Shutter: 1/500
   I stood in the pouring rain for nearly two hours shooting a soccer game for The Toledo Blade last night.
   It was cold and miserable, but that didn't prevent me from enjoying the game. In fact, every time I poked my head out from under the cover of a large trash bag that I used to protect my 300mm lens and Canon MarkIV camera, I marveled at the beauty of the fall colors that surrounded the field, and how the rain looked like falling snow in the stadium lights. I kept thinking how lucky I was to be there. 
   We are in Week 10, and it's time for the students to shoot their sports assignments. I gave them two weeks to find a sport and shoot the heck out of it, which includes covering the fans, coaches and players.  Because they have to produce a Soundslides photo story, they must have at least 20 photos that document the entire game, on and off the field.
   Their biggest challenge won't be what to shoot. There's plenty of exciting action at any game at any given moment: angry and happy fans; yelling coaches; injured players; winner and loser reactions; and, of course, the peak action. As long as they keep their eyes open and pay attention, they will have moments to capture.
   The limitation will be their lenses. All of them have decent Canon and Nikon bodies, but most only have a wide to medium variable lens. If they shoot football or soccer with a 55mm lens, there's little chance they will get the shots  displayed in this blog post. They are aware of this, and have expressed concern in class. I told them to make up for the lack of peak action with great fan coverage.
    Make lemonade out of lemons!
   Next week they will post three photos on their blogs: the best action, best coach and best fan shot, as well as produce a Soundslides project. Check out their blogs to see how they did!

A photojournalist's portrait studio is...everywhere

To overcome her fear of photographing strangers, Amy took a deep breath and began chatting with her subject, the owner of an optometrist store. "It's amazing how fast you can complete these assignments once you find your subject and overcome your fears," she said. Read her story about her portrait assignment experience on her blog:

   When my students were told they were going to shoot portraits for their next assignment, they probably imagined using a studio, where hot lights and background paper are standard equipment. It’s natural to link portraits to this controlled environment because that’s where many families and high school seniors often go for their portraiture sessions.
  Portraits are also a part of a photojournalist’s daily agenda, but instead of subjects coming to a studio, we go to them. This is called environmental portraiture because we, the photojournalists, capture the personalities of our subjects in their natural environment, whether that be in their homes, businesses, schools, sporting venues, etc.
  Shooting portraits is not easy. There are many factors to consider, like light and background, but the most important element is that the photo tell their stories. Who are they? Why are we taking their photos for the newspaper? What's their environment like?
  Students have a hard time with shooting portraits because it can seem so...intimate. To shoot a good portrait, you have to get to know the person a little bit in a short amount of time. Social people don't have a problem with people photography, but shy people do. Serious scholastic photojournalists who are in their junior and senior years accept this. However, community college commercial photography students, like those in this Intro to Photojournalism course, are just wrapping their brains around the "getting to know your subject" concept. They're used to shooting things like trees, stuff in their apartments, old buildings and their kids.
  I'm trying to coax them out of their comfort zones, to find people they don't know with interesting hobbies or jobs, but it's not easy. Some did, some didn't.
  Because of this dilemma, I've decided to add a new instructional block next semester on how to find stories on campus. This will force them to cover their own community, which is Owens. That way, the students will feel a connection to their stories, which will be available to our school online newspaper, the Owens Outlook: I guess the lesson learned for me is you can't expect a baby to walk without first teaching her how to make those first steps.
  I encourage you to visit each student's blog. I have faith they will all eventually stray from their own backyards, but at this point, I know they trying hard to stand on their own two feet, and that's what counts.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's true...shooting features 'is hard'

This weather feature photo was captured by Jessica, a student in the PHO245 course. She conquered her fear of strangers and shot this photo without a panic attack! Read about her panic attack experience in her blog:
       Panic attacks. Excuses. Pictures of dogs, cats and decapitated toes.
       These are what the PHO245 students experienced or shot this week for the feature shooting assignment. One student summed up the whole experience in two words: it's hard!
       The working life of a photojournalist constantly consists of turning bad light and cluttered backgrounds into wonderful captured moments of time.
       Seldom do we show up on a scene where everything is picture perfect. It takes work. It takes knowing how to handle light, whether it be too much or too little. It takes being able to scan the area and instantly know which angle is best. It takes getting photo subjects to be comfortable enough to ignore you, and then get them to tell you their life stories. All of these things take experience and knowledge.
      Experience comes with time. Gaining experience is totally up to the will of the student photographer. But knowledge, well, that's currently my responsibility. It's my job as their instructor to give them the basic tools they need to go out into the community and tell stories with their camera. The tool kit includes, but is not limited to, knowing their rights, being ethically and legally aware, understanding how their camera works, and knowing how to shoot different types of assignments, like features, portraits, sports and photo stories.
      Doesn't shooting stories for a living sound like fun? Honestly, that depends on the photographer. One student admitted she suffered panic attacks when she had to approach strangers for a feature assignment. Another tweeted this comment on Monday: "I learned that when shooting in photojournalism...don't try to be creative."
     What? Actually, it's the complete opposite. You should be creative in photojournalism, but the integrity of the photo/story needs be the first consideration.
     Students, don't beat yourselves up. It will get more fun and a little easier as you add experience into your tool boxes. After all, isn't that why you took this class?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Addition of pages

   I just discovered blog pages, which are like chapters in a book! So, I've reorganized the class blog by adding pages in the tab bar. Now you can easily view the syllabus and the class blog roster without having to search for them.