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!