Thursday, November 17, 2011

Students document despair and hope at the Cherry St. Mission

Amy, left, uses a digital voice recorder to interview Chantele Henry, chief operations officer. (Photos by Lori King)

Serena and Clay document life at the Men's Ministry at the Cherry St. Mission at 105 17th St. in Toledo, Ohio.
Jessica asks a 37-year guest of the Sparrow's Nest for her name.
Dear PHO245 students:
   I'm proud of you for stepping out your comfort zones to shoot your team photo story project yesterday.
   You witnessed true desperation on the many sad faces of homeless men and women at the Cherry St. Mission. Hard to believe that most everyone you met lost everything they had, for whatever reason, and their only possessions were a few trinkets they keep near their twin bunks.
   While some of the 'guests' refused to let you take their photos, others were happy to share their stories, like the woman who suffered domestic abuse and escaped to the Sparrow's Nest, a shelter for women.
  There's no doubt that documenting down-and-out people is difficult, especially when they give you dirty looks or hide their faces in shame. I know some of you would have preferred to shoot the back of their heads and not ask them for their names. Anonymous is easy. 
   However, the only way to properly illustrate this heart-wrenching story of the poor is to put faces and names on it. Unfortunately, that's the best way to prove there is a problem. Sometimes it takes the media to get the word out so people will respond.
   The Cherry St. Mission is the perfect place to learn about the human condition of poverty. It's the largest organization serving the homeless and the poor. It offers beds, warm meals, free education, medical treatment, and much more.
   You must understand that as scholastic photojournalists you should be learning more than just how to stop action at a football game. It's actually the media's social responsibility to give a voice to the segment of the community that otherwise wouldn't have one, like the Muslim woman at the Sparrow's Nest who claimed she has lived there for 37 years. I would like to know her story, and we should tell it.
   This is the media's civic duty. It's our job to show the haves how the have-nots live. It's also our responsibility to report how the community steps up and reaches out to the poor.
   That's what you did yesterday.
   (The photo story will be produced using Soundslides, and will be available on this blog in a few weeks. To see the the photos from each student, go to their individual blogs the end of next week.)
The PHO245 team prepare to shoot their final photo story project at the Cherry St. Mission. From left: Clay, Serena, Ashley Shaffer, communications director for the Cherry St. Mission, Cathy, Becci, Jessica, Amy and Cheri. (Not pictured: Jocelyn)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The end of the semester is near, but learning never ends

Genoa Comets celebrate their victory as Northwood's Samantha Solaru displays her misery. (PHO245/Serena Ortiz)

Peak action by Cathy Zeltner
    The end is near, which means the students are busy wrapping up their final assignments.
    Their last individual assignment was shooting sports. They attended a sporting event, mostly soccer and football, and were required to capture images of the fans, coaches and, of course, action. They did a wonderful job. There were a few problems with slow shutter speeds and lens length choices, but that's what learning is all about! I displayed a few images I felt worthy of sharing. 
   We also welcomed guest speaker Enoch Wu to the class this week. He is a Bowling Green State University grad and a photographer with the Bowling Green Sentinel. He shared his new website with us, and talked about his transition from being a music major to becoming a photographer. Thanks for the visit, Enoch.
   The students are currently very busy preparing for their team project on the Cherry St. Mission. They are using their sports images to learn Soundslides, and will learn to edit audio with Audacity on Monday.
   They will be divided into three teams for the project: sound, caption writing and photo editing. Every student will shoot, but the teams will collectively produce the photo story with audio recorded at the site using digital voice recorders. It's a lofty project done in a very short time, but this team project introduces them to many skills needed in today's multimedia world.
    Please visit the student blogs by clicking on the student blog roll at the top of this course blog.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PHO245 student gets crash course in tackle football, but she's ok

PHO245 student Becci Okenka is nearly tackled on the sidelines while covering the Whitmer football game Oct. 28.
(Photo courtesy of a friend)
      I've been shooting sports for the Toledo Blade for 16 years now. That's a lot of basketballs, footballs, volleyballs, golf balls, baseballs and players that could have caused me harm.
      I've only had minor incidents. One time I was shooting a profile of a high school pitcher. I told him to throw directly at the catcher so I could capture the ball zooming right at me. I was confident the catcher would, you know, catch it. He didn't. The ball hit my fingers and I thought they were crushed.
     Another time I was standing behind the pitcher during a charity softball game. Again, I had faith the pitcher would field the ball to protect me. He didn't. I had the biggest bruise on my thigh.
      Sports shooters are always at risk for getting injured or killed because we are so close to the action, where anything can happen.
      I don't think Becci Okenka, a current PHO245 student, realized this when she went to the Whitmer football game Friday to shoot her sports assignment for this class. She said she was on the sidelines shooting the action, totally focused on the ball as it soared through the air, when it landed on her forehead! To make matters worse, she was nearly run over by two football players who were chasing down the ball.
     Fortunately, she and her camera weren't injured, though I bet her pride is a bit bruised.
     Getting run over during games or being nailed by a ball is a fairly common occurrence, and it could happen to anyone. However, I think I neglected to mention this little fact during the sports lecture. Sorry that you had to learn the hazards of the sports photography the hard way, Becci.
     Even though she was shaken up a bit, she still managed to complete her assignment! To see her photos from the game, go to her blog: