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: http://jessicaverhoff.blogspot.com
       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?

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