Friday, December 14, 2012

This course will be in temporary hiatus until Fall semester

 Stay tuned: I will post the URL to when the Burned Soundslides project is published. To view individual student photo stories, click on the Student blog roll in the menu bar.
 After I post that URL,  this course blog will be in temporary hiatus until the start of the next Intro to Journalism course in August.
  Thank you for supporting this course.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Students finish production of Burned, a photo story on arson

This photo was taken at one of the arson sites by PHO245 student Amarrah Smith:
Amarrah paid attention to the little things.
Cell phone pic of students producing the Burned project using Soundslides.

   Last week the class finished production on their final project: the team photo story on arson for
    The editing and sounds teams worked diligently on the painstaking process of marrying three minutes of audio with more than 40 photos of arson sites and abandoned homes scattered throughout Central Toledo.
   The caption writing team gathered arson statistics for the essay they will write. They discovered that Toledo is ranked #4 in the nation for arson fires, according to
   This team project was real-life journalism. Armed with a short list of confirmed arson sites provided by Toledo Fire Dept. Lt. Matt Hertzfeld, we ventured into urban neighborhoods for two hours one morning last week and knocked on the doors of neighbors who lived next to targeted houses.
   Besides shooting photos at the scenes, the audio team had the added responsibility of searching for witnesses who watched the houses near them burn by the hand of arsonists. The team encountered three different types of witnesses:
· A woman who wanted to tell her story and wasn’t afraid to be identified;
· A man who absolutely didn’t want anything to do with it. In fact, he initially admitted the house next to him was destroyed by arson; then he changed his story when asked if he would be willing to be interviewed.
· Two men who wouldn’t stop talking but refused to be photographed or give their names.
    Watching the students work their multimedia magic in class this morning was amazing. Dave Cantor and I gave them little bits of advice, but for the most part these students did all of the work. It is fundamental students are given hands-on assignments like this because it allows them to make their own content decisions for this real-world project that will be published on a reputable website like
     Don't expect the students to answer the burning questions of why arsons happen and what the city is doing about them. This project was simply meant to wet their appetites for storytelling: This is an introduction course, after all. PHO245 students don't spend a lot of time on any one subject, especially something as deep as arson. I can only hope that this multimedia project inspires them to advance their skills later on down the road.
     In class next week we will present our story, entitled Burned, to co-founder of Kate Giammarise. I can't wait to show off the skills of these six scholastic photojournalists.
     And that’s a wrap, folks.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Students turn their cameras to homes destroyed by arson

   When students signed up for the Intro to Photojournalism course this semester, they had no idea they would be shooting Toledo-area homes destroyed by fire, but that's what they'll be doing Wednesday morning.
    The class is going on a field trip to document houses targeted by arsonists. Arson is a big problem in the downtown area, and the students are doing a photo story on the problem for, a website dedicated to urban blight and beauty.
    The students will not only shoot photos of the destroyed houses, they will also interview neighbors of a few of those houses. Because this is an introduction class, the students won't be 'investigating' the why of the arson problem ... just the what and where.  The intent is to get their feet wet in the photojournalism biz, and to generate discussion on documenting life around them.
    Next week, back in the classroom, they will collectively produce a photo story that will be published on Rust Wire. This team project is a great way for students to learn how to work with other people, and then work together. It's practical experience they couldn't possibly get by reading a textbook.
    They prepared for the project by learning how to:
  • shoot a photo story;
  • select and edit photos using Photoshop;
  • collect and edit sound using Audacity:
  • marry the photos and sound together using Soundslides, an audio/slideshow software.
    The students work in teams throughout the process. All of them will shoot, but then they are divided into teams. One team will capture and edit the audio; a team will write the captions and design the title and end slides; and another team will put the show together using Soundslides.
    The team project began two years ago, and it's so beneficial to the students that it's a mainstay of the course. It's also a great way for Owens to contribute to the local community. So far, former students have covered the Sunshine Home, Cherry St. Mission and Bittersweet Farms.
    The URL link to the arson story will be posted on this blog when it's published on Rust Wire.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Intro to PJ student is a journalist waiting to happen

This is one of several photos taken at an Owens basketball game by PHO245 student Lynn Redding, my student of the week.

    First I saw this photo. 
  It showed a kid from Kellogg College driving through the Owens defense, his feet off the ground in mid-stride. It was a wonderful sports moment frozen in time. And it was in focus! 
   “Wow! That’s fantastic,” I exclaimed.
   Then I started reading her sports essay on the computer screen. I winced as I read the lead sentence, which started out with the date of the game. 
   “Repeat after me,” I instructed Lynn, a student who was working on her sports assignment in class Wednesday. “I will not start a lead sentence with a date.”
    She repeated after me, then promptly deleted the date. And there it was - a strong, descriptive lead sentence that caught my attention right away.
   It read: Owens forward James Kelly quickly broke away from the pack and charged down the court to score the first basket of the night just seconds after the tipoff.
   “That’s your lead!” I told her. Then I proceeded to tell her she was a journalist waiting to happen.  
   In fact, it's already happening. She announced to me at the end of class that she was thinking about joining the Owens Outlook staff as a photojournalist, but she was "too nervous" to make the call.
  I asked her to consider two things: do you have the time, and do you want the job? If the answer is yes and yes, then don't let nervousness stop you from taking advantage of a great opportunity. All it takes for anyone to become a good journalist is journalism education, experience and confidence.
  When Lynn joins the Outlook she will be the second student from the Intro to Photojournalism course on the staff. Former PHO245 student Cathy Zeltner is currently the managing editor!
   To view more of Lynn’s sports coverage of the Owens v. Kellogg basketball game, go her class blog.
   I also want to take the opportunity to give kudos to the other students who posted their sports assignment on their class blogs. Sports is one of the hardest assignments in the course and they all did a great job!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Features, portraits and sports, oh my!

This is a blog post by Miranda, who used a photo slideshow gadget.
   The PJ course is more than half way over, and there is still so much more to do!
  First, I want thank one of the students for creating business cards for all six students in the class. Each biz card has the student’s name and blog URL. Passing them out to their sources and subjects will help to spread the word and keep in touch. I also want to give Miranda kudos for being the first to try out the photo slideshow gadget on Blogger. Miranda is not afraid to try new things, and that will aid her well. Good job, Miranda!
   So the feature assignment is behind us; the portrait assignment is in progress; and next up is learning how to shoot sports. They will use their sports photos to learn Soundslides, which kicks off the photo storytelling lecture. That lecture includes learning how to edit audio using Audacity, editing photos down from many to a chosen few, and marrying audio with multiple photos to tell a story. 
Yep, we're pretty busy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Students learn about reciprocity and the power of display

Reciprocity is a lesson in camera control

Take note of the blurry background in this image of a moving vehicle. This
effect is achieved by using a slow shutter speed and panning my camera with
movement of the vehicle. (PHO245/Jen Hannum)
By Jen Hannum
   I learned a lot about cameras and how they work while studying camera operations in my photojournalism class this week,
   Did you know that a fixed lens isn’t defined by whether the lens zooms or not? It is actually a lens that stays at its minimum aperture no matter what focal length you set it to.
   We also touched on basic compositional elements, as well as a reminder of how to control our shutter speed, aperture and ISO to achieve the creative control of our images.
   Reciprocity is the process of setting all the controls on my camera to capture an image with my desired creative outcome, which should be determined in my head before I even put that camera to my face.
   Camera operations is really all about knowing my camera and how to achieve the look I desire in my images, and not letting the camera decide for me.
   The above blog post is from PHO245 student Jen Hannum. I’m proud to highlight the work of Jen, who flawlessly demonstrated a technique called panningI posted it in its entirety because it’s the epitome of what's expected from a typical student blog post. 
   Students are expected to publish short essays on their blogs each week,  forcing them to strengthen their writing skills. This is also where they will display their photographic work the rest of the semester. They will learn basic layout and design principles, which is just as important as the text and photos they display. If a display is bad, then readers will be too distracted to care about the rest. A good display exhibits attention to detail and an understanding of good showmanship.  
  These are basic layout and design principles to keep in mind:
  • No trapped white space
  • People and objects, like cars, should face toward the copy, not off the page
  • If a photo is on left, then use flush left or block text, and if photo is on the right, use flush right or block text
  • Photo captions are flush left or block 
  • Use photos LARGE
   From now on every student will display their photos on their blogs. These are their upcoming shooting assignments: feature, portrait, sports and individual/group photo stories.   
   You can find their blogs by clicking on the Student Blog Roll/Fall 2012 in the top menu bar. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New PHO245 beat system inspires critical thinking and fear

   In education we hear a lot about the term ‘critical thinking.’
   What does it really mean?  I know we journalism educators are expected to inspire students to be critical thinkers, but there isn’t a manual for that, is there? This expectation is always in the back of my mind. How do I get students to be critical thinkers in a class packed with so much dogmatic information, like learning camera controls and caption writing?
   Well, I think I’ve found an answer.  It’s called the beat system, and it’s a powerful way for photojournalism students to become critical thinkers.   
   The beat system is a common way for journalists to cover particular topics on a long-term basis. Popular newspaper beats are cops, health and fitness, politics, local school systems, etc. The main intent is for journalists assigned to beats to become familiar with the people of those beats.
   For the past several years I’ve been struggling on how to get the Intro to PJ students to care about what they are shooting. Typically, I’ll teach them what feature or portrait photography is about and then send them out into the wild blue yonder of Northwest Ohio to stumble upon something interesting. It was frustrating for them and for me. There was little focus or allegiance. I struggled with how to make it better.
   Then late this summer it occurred to me to use the beat system. I talked to a dean in the technology school, a professor in the culinary school, and an adjunct in the Emergency Management School. I asked them what they thought about students covering their schools for the semester. They loved the idea, and so did I.
   I finally introduced the beat system to the students yesterday. I supplied them with an explanation letter to share with their contacts, and told them to go to their assigned beats and make initial contact. You would have thought I told them to go jump off the big O on top of the Health Technologies Hall building! Many of them seemed fearful to make that first step on their own. Approaching deans and instructors can be pretty intimidating to students, but that's the point. It's time to shed those shells!
  Each photojournalist was assigned a beat they were interested in.
   This is where the critical thinking comes in: I told them their beats are their responsibilities. They should be the ones to introduce themselves to the deans, instructors and students, and then dig for interesting visual stories within their own beats.  
   This strategy forces them to step out of the comfort zone of Classroom 206. They will have to be critical of whom they meet and what they find. Will they settle with the first opportunity that comes their way? Will they know when to say yes and no when offered a good or bad idea? How aggressive will they be to find a good story? Can they get past their panic attacks? Will a budding photojournalist or two discover that this career is actually meant for them?
   This is a pilot program I'm anxious to see grow through time, and one I hope they appreciate it some day.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Learning to be legally and ethically fit on Constitution Day

   PHO 245 students passed out these flyers on campus to celebrate Constitution Day.
   Week 5 is done, and it’s been a whirlwind of learning and doing.
   The students kicked off the week by celebrating Constitution Day. They spent their first 30 minutes of class Monday posting flyers in many of the buildings on campus. Constitution Day came at a good time, considering we were in the middle of learning about press law, ethics and the First Amendment.
   After they returned to the classroom we conducted the first weekly critique, which comprised of going over their edited blog essays on the projector, and viewing all of their individual blogs.
Students don’t necessarily like being critiqued in a group, but it helps them learn from each other’s good and bad practices. This is where mistakes tend to be nipped at the bud.
   They are certainly getting comfortable with tweeting and blogging. All of their blogs, which include cell phone photography pages in the tab bar, are up and running.  I encourage you to visit their blogs, and please let them know how they are doing. Feedback is an important learning tool.
   We finished the law, ethics and copyright lecture Wednesday morning. This is one of the most important lessons of the course. Being legally and ethically fit is what separates the amateur newsmaker from the pro. Everyone responsible for disseminating information in any way should be aware of their First Amendment rights, and have high legal and ethical standards. Photojournalists have a civic responsibility to record accurate, un-manipulated images. Ignorance is no excuse.
    I was thankful for the opportunity to show two informative online webinars on legal issues offered by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).  The Fine Print: a Webinar series on Legal Issues for Photographers includes two tutorials on legal issues and copyright. The content generated a few questions and lots of answers. Thank you, NPPA!
   Finally, we wrapped up the week with a lesson on caption writing and the AP Stylebook. This is the journalist part of photojournalist. By this time, however, they’ve already written four essays, so writing brief captions shouldn’t be too intimidating. The 5Ws and the H formula makes data collecting pretty easy.
   Next week we begin the photo part of photojournalism.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Individual student blogs are now up and running

   The Intro to Photojournalism students created their class blogs last week, and all eight are available for commenting on, viewing, learning and admiring.
   The blog URLs are located in the Student Blog Roll/Fall 2012 tab bar above. Please feel free to comment on them. I'm sure they would enjoy pats on the back and constructive criticism now and then.

It's 'something cool' when students teach fellow students

   I recently received the following email from PJ student Jen Hannum:
“Hi Lori
I just wanted to share something cool with you and also let you know how I did it, and if you thought it was worthy of passing on to the rest of the class.  Check out my blog:
    The pages Jen created for cell photos and her website are in the yellow tab bar.
I created pages at the top, one of which is a cell phone pics page that is easy to upload to right from my cell phone.  It is actually another mobile blog that is tied to my original blog.  I attached directions on how I did it in case you wanted to pass the info along. I have an iPhone so I can only speak to how I did it with that but it seems pretty universal.
I am copying and pasting steps below:
iPhone directions to set up a Cell Phone Picture Blog 
1. txt the word register to 256447
2. you will receive an @(blahblahblah) and a code
3. enter that code at and captcha provided
4. chose continue as this user if its not selected and click continue
5. name the blog (I chose Cell Phone Shots) click continue
6. chose a template (can be changed to match your regular blog later)
7. you now have a new mobile blog
8. go to your regular blog choose the pages tab
9. create a new page that is a website and name it (I chose Cell Phone Shots)
10. enter the web address that was texted to you back in step 2 (the blahblah .blogspot)
11. Chose location on home page you want page to show up
12. Now you have a page on your original blog that links to your mobile blog
13. Download the blogger app on your cell phone and sign in
14. In settings on the app you can choose  the new blog and send just cell pics there”

   My reply:
   Yes, Jen, what you did is “something cool!”
   Not only did you do this for yourself, but you wanted to share it with your classmates, and that makes me one awfully proud instructor!
  You even taught me something (how to link blogs via pages), which makes me a stronger instructor because I can pass on this new knowledge onto the next class. A+ for your effort!
   Thank you.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Introducing phoneography to the photojournalism curriculum

       A screen grab from Sam's cell pix on Twitter.  
   I introduced a new assignment on cell phone photography this week, and it was about time.
  Cell phone photography has become so popular in the 21st Century that it can no longer be ignored by photojournalism educators. Since the first consumer camera phone was released by Sharp in 2000, it only took seven years to reach a billion devices. By 2009, there were 4.6 billion mobile phones subscriptions (  
   Can you imagine a college student without one?
   Since nearly everyone has a mobile phone, I think it's safe to say they outnumber traditional cameras! All eight of the students in this class have cell phones, and nearly half of those are iPhones. So it's not a big surprise that they all use their cells to take photos.
  Yes, it’s time cell phone photography is covered in photojournalism classes everywhere!
  Using a cell phone to capture images is convenient for several reasons. First, it’s accessible. Cells are always in our pockets, purses and backpacks. We never leave home without them. Secondly, they are convenient; small enough to hide, and light enough to carry 24/7. But what’s really important is the ability to instantly share images using social media tools, like Facebook and Twitter.
   Together we are learning about cell camera apps, tools and features. There’s a lot to learn, but each student brings their own experience to the table. We also had a guest speaker tout his newspaper’s Mobile Blog, which is a trendsetter in phoneography. Enoch Wu demonstrated his ability to shoot and send an image to Twitter via his cell without needing a computer.
   The students are required to tweet five cell phone photos throughout the semester. Each photo must have enough caption information to explain the photo. We also viewed a tutorial by Richard Koci Hernandez.
  I'm happy to witness students, like Sam Ricker, are already tweeting cell photos and experimenting with different apps! I think it's going to be a very successful assignment, and one that's here to stay.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Creating a beat system to find stories is a win-win situation

   Now that the syllabus is handed out and the first day of school is over, it’s time to get to business. While the students complete their first homework assignment next week (learning about the history of news), I will be busy creating a beat system for the course.  
   A beat system is designed for journalists to hone their expertise on a particular topic or geographical area. For our purposes, each PJ student will be assigned a school (School of Technology, School of Health Sciences, etc.) to cover throughout the entire semester. This will allow them to get to know the instructors and students on their beats, making it easier for them to find good stories that would otherwise be overlooked.
   The students are responsible for finding stories, showing up to the event or classroom on time, documenting the event, gathering caption information, and ultimately posting their photos and essays on their blogs for a grade. Most of their shooting assignments, except for sports, will be derived from their beats.
   The beauty of this system is that anyone, particularly those they cover, can view the student blogs at any time!
   So, I'm actively comprising a list of deans and instructors willing to participate in this pilot beat system. I also need to figure out the best way of communication between the PJ students and the instructors. Coordinating the work of the PJ students with the Owens Outlook is another possibility.
   At this point, the College of Technology, the culinary program, and the EMS school are on board.  If this system works, the students can continue to cover these beats each semester!
   It's a win-win situation!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A welcome letter to new Intro to Photojournalism students

   Dear PHO245 students:
   Welcome to the Intro to Photojournalism Course! 
    I'm excited to begin another semester with a new crop of scholastic photojournalists. For the next 16 weeks you will be trained to think, act and shoot like a photojournalist. 
   My primary goal is to help you become a visual storyteller with a heightened sense of purpose and ethics. I also hope you gain an appreciation for the social responsibility photojournalists have in documenting life and death throughout the world.
   Because this is an introduction class, you will be taught a wide variety of subjects, including:
  • Law, ethics and copyright 
  • Caption writing
  • Photo editing tools (Photo Mechanic)
  • Social media tools (Twitter and blogging)
  • Using your camera to tell a story
   Ever semester I add something new to improve the course and keep up with technology. You will be the first PHO245 class to use your cell phone cameras as another way to tell visual stories. 
   You will be the first class to be on a beat system. This means you are responsible for covering a school (culinary, transportation, etc.) at Owens throughout the semester.
A sample of photos from Rust Wire's Flickr Group
   I'm also happy to announce that for your final individual project, this class is collaborating with Rust Wire is recruiting photographers in our area take part in a photo project attempting to capture the "unique essence of individual Rust Belt cities."
   We are privileged to have Kate Giammarise, one of the founders, guest speak with you Sept. 24 about the Big Urban Photography Project.
   Needless to say, this is a fast-paced course because there is so much to learn. Every week you will learn something new, and Dave Cantor and I are confident you'll benefit from nearly every assignment, no matter what photography career you choose.
   Again, welcome and have fun!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

   This blog is temporarily inactive due to another blog I maintain for myself.
   I will resume posting to this blog in the Fall.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The end is here but changes will never end

   The semester is over, the grades are posted and I am already looking forward to next semester.
   I'm contemplating a few changes:
  • Swap Soundslides with iMovie so they can learn a new storytelling tool. A prerequisite for this class is Digital 1, where most students are already introduced to Soundslides. Soundslides is fading away, so I now prefer Final Cut Pro/Express, but our classroom MAC computers aren't equipped with this video editing software, yet.
  • Add an assignment on cell phone photography, which is becoming more popular and viable in the digital age. Knowing how to use your cell phone for a spot news photo is becoming a must.
  • Look into teaching a block of instruction on Pinterest and other popular ways of sharing photos.
  • Change from Blogger to Wordpress, which is more standard in the journalism world.
    Looks like I have some research and assignment development to do!
    I also will be working hard this summer on completing my master's project so I can finally graduate with an MA in journalism education from Kent State University in December. My project consists of designing a photography class geared for area high school journalism/yearbook/photography teachers who were thrown into teaching those subjects because they teach English or like photography.
    Forcing English teachers to teach journalism due to budget cuts is a pathetic national trend that hurts the future of the profession. The CEU (continuing education unit) course I am proposing, which I hope will be available next summer at Owens Community College, will help better educate journalism/yearbook/photojournalism teachers/advisers on the basics of photography and photojournalism. This project is in its infancy stage, so I don't have much information to share at this point. 
    Okay then. This is my final blog post for the Spring 2012 class. See you in August!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

You have the tools, so get out there and tell photo stories!

      Dear PHO245 students:
      The end is here.
      You've spent 4 months learning the basics of a photojournalism career. I'm confident you will walk out of the classroom tomorrow thinking photojournalism is harder than you first imagined. There is more to photojournalism than just capturing a moment.
      I threw a lot of stuff at you in 16 weeks. You learned about the definition of news, law and ethics, caption writing, social media and editing audio. And, of course, you took pictures. You learned how to shoot feature, portrait, sports and photo stories. We also looked at the work of a lot of NPPA and ONPA award-winning photojournalists online.
     In a nutshell, you learned that photojournalism is about capturing a moment and sharing it with the community. It takes being aware of the environment you're in. It takes being able to deal with all kinds of people. It takes being patient and knowing when to push the shutter button. It takes getting over your panic attacks. It takes understanding that photojournalists have a First Amendment right to be most places because you have an obligation to document life around you.
     I hope some of the training in this class will help you in whatever career you pursue. You might not end up being a photojournalist, but you will always be an educated citizen communicator - with a camera.
     Don't underestimate the power of the citizen journalist.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

PJ student turns a portrait assignment into real news value

This photo might not be a Pulitzer Prize winner, but it earned Shalisha Russell the Student of the Week title!
The following is a portion of a blog post essay written by Intro to PJ student Shalisha Russell:
"Toledoan Bonnie Burnside purchased a vehicle at Toledo Auto Finance. After having the vehicle for only five days, the transmission went out. She claims the dealership is being uncooperative and refuses to fix the vehicle. The only offer the dealership made to Burnside was finding a transmission and a mechanic.
She is protesting the auto dealer’s actions by showing up every day with her signs to inform the public about her bad deal, and to show the dealership she’s serious. Burnside says she'll be out there 'come rain, sleet or snow.' 
Burnside made this assignment easier to complete because she was so open to being photographed. I am grateful that I saw her. I couldn’t have chosen a better subject to be a part of my assignment."
 Russell wrote that essay and took the above photo for her portrait homework assignment last month. 
I can't tell you how excited I was to see a commercial art photography major in an introductory photojournalism class actually cover a real news story. In the two years I've taught this class, this is one of the first times an assignment had real news value. Sure, my students shoot real sports and features, but this story had an element of controversy that could make even a senior PJ major think twice about getting involved. 
This is what Russell tweeted verbatim the day she discovered her lemon story:
 "just saw the perfect subject for portrait excited. lori would've been a proud pj instructor for the way I hopped out of the car & interviewed a lady at a car lot who bought a lemon." 
Darn right I'm a proud PJ instructor! I'm also happy to announce she was recently hired as a part-time reporter/photographer at the Toledo Journal. For these reasons, I've chosen Russell as my Student of the Week.
To read the rest of Russell's blog, and those of the other PJ students, click on the student blog roll in the menu bar above.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Assertiveness is just one of many attributes of a photojournalist

PHO245 student Paul Murray works the room in the Sunshine Home. (Photos by Lori King)
Be assertive, yet respectful.
   While watching the students work during their team community project at Sunshine Home this week, I was struck by a single observation: BE ASSERTIVE PEOPLE!
   Being timid is a natural instinct in the beginning for most scholastic photojournalists. It seemed the students felt uncomfortable disrupting the working environment of the nurses and therapists working with the residents of the Sunshine Home, which serves people with developmental disabilities. There were several times I had to push and prod them to see and capture what was happening right in front of them, like when a resident was wheeling a laundry cart down the hall piled with folded clothes. Or when a therapist was holding hands with an energetic and social bed-ridden man in his 70s.
   “Shoot a close-up of their hands! Get in there!” I energetically instructed.
    There is no doubt photojournalists sometimes walk a fine line between shooting the need to know (news) and sensationalism (paparazzi). That’s a big reason why  photographer's rights, the First Amendment and the definition of news are covered during the first month, before they shoot a single photo.
   If you are there to tell a story, then you need to tell that story in the most truthful and thorough way. Sometimes that means getting close to your subjects. And sometimes that means being noticed.
    Learning to see everything around you and only shooting what is relevant is a learned skill that takes training (school) and experience (on-the-job). This team project satisfied both of those requirements.
   I’ve come up with a list of attributes I think the average photojournalist should possess:
  • Be assertive, yet respectful
  • Be curious
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Be ethical to a fault
  • Be cautious of being manipulated
  • Don’t be shy, yet don’t be disruptive, either
  • Develop a keen sense of news and what makes a good photo
  • Be well aware that there is always room to learn and grow
  • Have an attribute you think I’ve left out? Please comment!
   Obviously, I can’t follow around students during most of their assignments, though sometimes I wish I could. Heck, even I, an experienced photojournalist, would benefit from following around another experienced photojournalist because there is always room to learn and grow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

PhotoJ students get out of the classroom to document real life

Christian climbs a fence for that perfect shot of a horse grazing at the Sunshine Home barn! (Photos by Jolee Hatfield-King)

Aaron and Shalisha coordinate caption information before the shoot.

   I'm happy to report that this morning my students have successfully accomplished the 3rd annual Intro to PJ community service team project.  
   The team project gives the students a real-life shooting experience, and I am there to help them with things, like capturing live audio for a one-on-one interview, how to handle difficult light, and how to SEE photo ops all around them.
   Each semester I pick a different organization that fits these requirements:
  •  It needs to be big enough for all students to shoot without duplicating photos.
  • The workers and those they serve need to be welcoming to our cameras.
  • The organization could use our photos. We reciprocate by handing over our best work, as long as the photos are credited to the students.
    This semester I chose the Sunshine Home in Maumee. For 61 years the Sunshine Home has been
"creating community among people with developmental disabilities in northwest Ohio." 
   We first met for breakfast at Georgette's Grounds & Gifts coffee shop in the heart of Maumee. Georgette's is a fair trade cafe and gift shop owned and operated by Sunshine Inc. of Northwest Ohio, so it was a logical choice to converge and discuss our game plan. Carolyn Miller, Sunshine's enthusiastic communications coordinator, was kind enough to join us there. Then we headed over to Sunshine and spent two hours documenting life there.
   The first two team projects were at Bittersweet Farms and Cherry St. Mission. Carolyn has already put bids on the class coming out next Fall. As long as the welcome mat is spread out before us, that is certainly an option!
The team from left: Carolyn Miller (Sunshine Home), Sydney, Aaron, Mariah, Lori (me), Christian, Shalisha and Paul.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Twitter allows me to escape from my isolated hometown bubble

Twitter comments by PHO245 student Aaron Gonya.
   The other day I was surfacing Twitter and discovered a new blog about journalism ethics called Ethics Matters (thanks for the link, Dave Cantor). I also learned that the investigation of a recent Maumee, Ohio fatal apartment fire continues, and looked at Wall Street Journal photos of the day.
   Sounds like a lot, but it's only a tiny fraction of links to national and local stories, websites and photos that are available at any given time on Twitter.
   When I tell students they will tweet as part of their course work, their reactions are all the same: they don't like it. Why? Because they don't understand it. The most common complaint is they don't want to hear what people had for breakfast, or any other insignificant banter. But that's not what Twitter is about. It's more for professionals, and that is what separates it from Facebook.
    Like it or not, tweeting is a part of journalism that's here to stay, at least for now. It's a quick and easy way to
  •  stay in touch with your community, including classmates, educators, colleagues, photographers, news sources, etc.
    •  receive and disseminate news tips, stories, photos, etc.
      •  learn about journalism-related information, like tools of trade, websites, training, etc.
        •  advertise your own or someone else's stories and photos that run in newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, etc.
          •  keep connected to whatever field you're interested in.
            A few of the journalism profs and orgs I follow.
               Those are just a few reasons why I like Twitter as a collaborative way to stay connected to people, organizations and news outlets.
                Twitter, launched in 2006, is an online social networking service that limits you to 140 characters. So there's yet another benefit: it forces you to be concise, which, as you know, is a key ingredient of journalism. 
               I wrote this post about Twitter because I am amazed at how much information is available at my fingertips. 
               I think of it this way: I am only one person, so it would be unfair to my students if I only offered them what I know about the business. Twitter allows me to expand their knowledge beyond the classroom.
                I no longer feel I am confined inside this tiny Toledo bubble. As a PJ instructor, I must ensure that my students don't live in their own tiny bubbles, either.

            Sunday, March 25, 2012

            End of semester means community project is near

            Photo by PHO245 student Mariah Teet
            Photo by PHO245 student Shalisha Russell.
               Wow. That's all I can say when viewing the sports photos taken by the students. They would look fantastic in any newspaper. Nice job!
               Tomorrow they will be working on their portrait assignment, which is the final regular assignment before we dig into the photo stories.
               Speaking of photo stories, I'm happy to announce that the class is doing their group community service photo story at Sunshine Home, a special place that services people with disabilities.
               Carolyn Miller, the Sunshine Home's communications coordinator, is coming into the classroom on Wednesday to talk about the shooting opportunities the students will have. The community service project is one of my favorite assignments because everyone involved benefits: the organizations we cover get fresh photos, and the students get to shoot a real-world photo story as a team. It's a win-win situation.
               The students will be divided into teams: sound, writing and editing, but they all shoot. It's a total collaborative effort. The end result is a Soundslides project that the organization can put on their website, if they so choose.
              In the meantime, view their great feature and sports photos by clicking on the student blog roll above.
               (UPDATE: The class will be going to the Sunshine Home April 9)

            Monday, March 19, 2012

            Learning to capture motion and moments through sports

            Intro to PJ student Paul Murray, front, shoots his first basketball game...EVER! He shot the Lady Rockets as they blasted Cincinnati to advance to the 3rd round of the WNIT. (Photos by Lori King)
            Aaron was excited to use his new camera on motor drive, though he admits he has to get used to shooting JPGs. 
                 I'm looking forward to reading what Paul has to say about covering his very first basketball game tonight. He's not a fan of sports, so I wonder if the few thousand screaming fans at the University of Toledo Lady Rocket's game influenced his lack of love for sports. Guess we'll find out when he posts his sports assignment on his blog. He's a writer, so he'll probably enjoy expressing his view on the matter than actually shooting the game, and I hope he's candid and honest.
               Aaron, on the other hand, was totally in his element when he shot a basketball game and a hockey game last week. He had the right equipment and the right attitude. Though he won't have as much fun editing his thousand (not exaggerating) or so photos down to the three required photos for his blog. Despite the work that still is to come (editing and caption writing), I could tell he was having a great time and would love to do it as a living.
               PHO245 students don't shoot sports for the sake of shooting sports. The assignment actually is a good exercise in capturing motion and moments. You know the saying: if you can shoot sports, you can shoot anything.
               Sure, it helps to have decent equipment, particularly a fast 2.8 long lens. But ultimately, sports shooters should have a basic understanding of the sport so they can anticipate the moments. But is that always absolutely necessary? Not too many of the students are sports fans, so that theory will be tested this week.
               Shooting sports is also a good lesson in storytelling. There's more to a sporting event than just a bunch of players in action. There are the fans, coaches and reactions.
               In the end, it's a LOT of work to cover sports. I hope the students had fun, too.

            Monday, March 12, 2012

            Intro to PJ student conquers his fear of feature photography

            Mages gather for Friday Night Magic. This is a strong overall shot of the gaming scene. (PHO 245 photos by Paul Murray)
            Nice detail shot to compliment the feature story.
                PHO 245 student Paul Murray is the shy type who admits he doesn't really like people. That's a pretty bold confession considering his major is journalism.
               "I was never very thrilled about photos that involve people," he wrote in his most recent blog post.
               "I think the world is a beautiful place, but I tend to dislike most people in general. The thought of approaching a random stranger with a camera is probably one of my biggest fears."
              For Paul, taking this Intro to Photojournalism course took a lot of guts. Most of my Intro to PJ students come out of Black and White 1 and Digital PHO 1, where they hone their camera control skills on inanimate objects. I can't tell you how many railroad and tree photos I've graded over the years. Taking photos of complete strangers opens up a whole new world to them. Some will love it and some will hate it, but all photoj students have to at least experience it.
               I have no grand illusions that PHO245 students take the course because they want to become photojournalists. Most of them have hopes of becoming commercial photographers, though, which means dealing with people. So this course is probably the first one that forces them to meet strangers and visually document their stories.
               It's easy to sip cappuccino at a coffee shop and criticize the photos in the local paper, but until you walk in our shoes, well, let's just say it's harder than it looks. And that's why I've chosen Paul as my  blogger of the week.  This week he posted his essay about feature photography, and I have to say his feature photos were good. He tried hard not to let his fear of photographing strangers inhibit his creative side.
               Visit his blog to see his other photos, and read about how he stepped out of his comfort zone. I also encourage you to read the blogs of the other PJ students. Their blog links are in the Student Blog roll above.