Saturday, November 28, 2015

On shooting sports: Covering action, reaction, coaches and fans

ACTION: Western Michigan's Darius Phillips breaks up a pass to Toledo's Cody Thompson at the University of Toledo's Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio on Friday. (Blade photos by Lori King)

REACTION: Alonzo Russell cries as he's ejected for targeting.
There is a saying in the photojournalism field that if you can shoot sports, you can shoot anything.
   This can be true for several reasons:
    • Action shots require precise timing and an innate understanding of fast shutter speeds.
    • Reaction shots can be just as important as action shots, so you need a keen awareness of what's happening before and after key plays. This includes capturing the antics of coaches on the sidelines.
    • Fans like to see themselves, too, so searching for strong fan shots is essential for making a slideshow interesting and compelling.
    • Critical thinking is definitely employed here by figuring out issues like where to shoot from and how to get the best angles; how to best ID the players and coaches; and how to deal with other factors, like weather, substandard camera equipment and limited access.
    The current assignment for the Wayne State photojournalism class is shooting a sports event. As part of that assignment, they are required to post their strongest action, coach and fan photos. They'll also edit their best dozen or so for a slideshow, produced in Adobe Premiere CC.
REACTION: Asantay Brown is taken off the field with an injury.
    A sports slideshow is a mini-portfolio for the vision and technical control of the shooters, so I encouraged the students to 'circle the wagon' to capture the flavor of the event.
   To demonstrate the assignment requirement, I posted these photos I took last night at the University of Toledo vs. Western Michigan football game.
    A big lesson I want to discuss here is that journalists are not cheerleaders for the team we cover, nor are we prevented from shooting moments that are hard to witness. Case in point - when Toledo's Alonzo Russell cried as he was ejected from the game for targeting WMU's Asantay Brown. Or when Brown was taken off the field on a stretcher.
    After the game, as we photogs worked up our images in the press box, another photographer asked me if a close-up shot of Brown's face on the stretcher was appropriate to send to his client. Both myself and the USA Today photographer told him to definitely send it, and let the editors decide whether to run it or not. I also shot that photo and sent it, and it ran in the newspaper today.
    So, here are samples of what I'm looking for when the students post their best three photos to their blogs.     
   Of course, I'm very aware they probably don't have the access or the long lenses that I have. But they need to do what it takes with what they have to get the job done, as do every college photographer assigned to cover their teams.
Link to Photo Gallery
Link to Toledo Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg's column, "We're not here to cheer for your team." 
FANS: Young Toledo fans don't get their wish after the Rockets lost their last home game to WMU.
COACH: Toledo's Corey Jones walks hand-in-hand with head coach Matt Campbell after their loss to WMU. It is these kind of captured moments that add emotion and mood to the game.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Q&A 7: Free Press photojournalist Eric Seals turns to video for storytelling

Automobile junk yard. (Photos by Eric Seals)
Eric Seals
Sometimes there comes a point in our lives when we feel it’s time to give back.
   For photojournalists, that means mentoring our youth, or going into classrooms to share what we’ve honed throughout our careers.
   Sharing with others is something that Detroit Free Press photo and video journalist Eric Seals has been doing for the past 15 years.
   He wrote on his website that he believes in the ‘reach one, teach one’ philosophy. He does that through doing job shadowing, mentoring others, and teaching at workshops and seminars around the country to those interested in this “amazing profession.”
   Hired by the Free Press in 1999, the Southfield, Michigan native has spent most of his career at the Motor City, home of rapper Eminem, Chrysler and Lake Erie. It is also a city recovering from bankruptcy, and suffering from high crime and neighborhood blight. But the good and bad of the city gives Seals plenty of stories to cover.
   Seals earned a degree in journalism in 1993 from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He is a two-time MPPA Multimedia Photographer of the Year winner, a national Webby Award recipient, and has earned several POYi wins, NPPA-BOP awards and 10 Michigan Emmys.
   As part of his teaching philosophy, Seals has been busy both shooting and mentoring. He recently returned from teaching at the University of Maryland School of Journalism. He also showed his Great Lakes shipwreck documentary that was selected for viewing at the Utopia Film Festival in Washington D.C.
   Over the past several months he has been busy teaching about video storytelling at the NPPA Multimedia Immersion workshop at Syracuse University, and at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Florida.
   I am proud to welcome Eric into my Wayne State University Digital Photojournalism classroom on Oct. 29. And then on Nov. 19 he will use Periscope to give a virtual tour of the Detroit Free Press, bringing his beloved newspaper to us, in our classroom.
   To celebrate this wonderful collaboration between WSU and the Free Press, Seals has been chosen as my seventh Q & A subject for this blog.

Q: When did you first become interested in visual storytelling?
A: I became interested in visual storytelling I guess when I was a kid who grew up reading the Detroit Free Press and looking at the pictures in the newspaper. After a while, I got to the point where instead of looking at the pictures I wanted to see the moments with my own eyes. I wanted to witness it for myself. Photojournalism was the only way to do that, and be creative while being that witness. I took a photography class in high school, which started me on my fun, challenging and amazing journey into the world of visual storytelling.
Q: You began shooting video in 2008, at the beginning of the ‘video explosion’ in photojournalism. What inspired you to jump on the video bandwagon?
A: I don’t know if there was anything that inspired me to get into video storytelling. It was more like the Free Press gave me a traditional video camera in 2008 and said, “We want you to start doing video for” I just took to it, and spent lots of time doing self-teaching from watching lots documentaries and learning on YouTube and Google.
   I loved going to movies as a kid, and still do now. Perhaps I see what I do as an extension of “making movies,” but I do it with a journalism twist; telling truth with a camera unlike movie directors who do take after take.
 We have several talented photojournalists on staff who shoot video stories, so it’s nice to be able see their work and bounce ideas off each other.
Q: What’s your opinion on shooting stills and video at the same time? How do you determine which one works best for the situation?
A: It depends on the assignment or story to be honest. Sometimes doing both just needs to be done. I recently had an assignment at the Detroit Zoo, where I had to shoot thousands of crickets that are fed to the various animals. I knew a short video clip of the crickets was needed, especially with that cricket chirping sound, along with a short interview with the cricket caretaker. I also knew I needed stills for the paper and the web. It’s all about prioritizing what’s needed when, and for how long, in terms of shooting stills and video.
   Other times, especially when I’m working on long form video storytelling, the video takes priority over stills, and when needed I can always pull frame grabs off the video, seeing how the quality of video is so much better these days. And sometimes I’ll have one camera with one lens to shoot stills instead of switching back and forth on the same camera.
   Another good think to do in long form storytelling is allow yourself an hour or two off and on to just focus on stills and not video. This works well when you’ve got good command of the story, it’s structure and a good body of work in terms of b-roll, etc.
Giving back to students. (Twitter screen grab)
Q: There are numerous storytelling tools available to us today. What tools do you use to tell your stories? Can they actually get in the way of storytelling?
A: I use a variety of tools from Canon HDSLR’s to Canon C100’s, GoPro’s and sliders for video storytelling.
   I’m a big camera gear geek, and yes, various tools can get in the way of storytelling if you let it. What needs to be done is keep your eyes focused on the main thing - the story, the story, the story! Besides the story you also need good characters, good audio and a really good edit to keep viewers hooked into what you are trying to tell them.
   You can have the best gear known to mankind but if your story isn’t good, doesn’t make sense or have a good focus then viewers won’t stick with it and move onto something else.
Q: What advice can you give aspiring photojournalists today?
A: I’d say find and study other photojournalists whose work makes you think and feel something, work that has moments and emotion to it. It’s that kind of work that viewers want to see or watch.
   Go get a coffee, head to a library or a bookstore, find the photography section and plant yourself. Pour through the books, study how composition, graphics, light, layering is used by some of the amazing talent out there. Even right here in Detroit at the Free Press we have talented photojournalists who are very nice, willing to share what they’ve learned.
   Show and share you work with others who are better than you, those that set the bar high for you to reach. Ask for a critique of your work. Keep an open mind about what they say. Take their constructive criticism well; learn and improve yourself based on what they say, then go out there and put it into practice.
   Fail and fail again, and learn from it - that’s how you get better.
  Embrace video. It’s so important if you want a job at newspapers these days. Watch lots of documentaries; find video journalists working at newspapers whose work you also like and watch their work; and reach out to them for help and advice. You have to be really proactive if you truly love what you do and want to get better at this amazing profession.
   I’m constantly sharing my video stories to those out there who set the bar high for me. I get torn down when they look at my videos, but with those little pieces I learn, grow and can put those pieces back together.
   I often say, “Don’t tell me my strengths, show me my weaknesses.” THAT is how you get better!
   Follow Eric on Twitter and Instagram:  @ericseals
Waiting for marshmallows.
Proven innocent.

Eric's visit to the Wayne State digital photojournalism class Oct. 29.
Links to a few of Eric's video stories:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On journalists taking their own photos: It is now a matter of when ... not if

Tweet of f/stop chart written on a whiteboard by a student learning depth of field.
Screen grab from blog of student Jun Kim.
We are nearly half way through the fall 2015 semester, so it's time for a quick update on how the Wayne State University digital photojournalism course is going.
   The first half of the semester was spent setting up their social media accounts (blogging, Twitter and Instagram), and learning their law, ethics and First Amendment rights as photojournalists. They are also in the middle of learning how to use their DSLR cameras . . . on manual mode, of course. This includes going over camera controls and composition - basic photography training with a 'keep it real' philosophy.
   Next up are lessons on caption writing, the AP Stylebook and cell phone photography.
   They learn all of the above before they even shoot their first assignment, which will be feature hunting.
    There are 17 students in the course, and all but one (economics) are in the journalism program. I told them on the first day of class that if they stay in journalism, it won't be a matter of IF they shoot their own photos, but WHEN.
   Journalism has changed over the past few years. There are far less photojournalists now because of layoffs, streamlining, job cuts, and print newspaper closures and online editions. Remember the cuts at Chicago Sun Times, the Times-Picayune and CNN, just to name a few? Remember what happened with the Ann Arbor News and the Rocky Mountain News? Their demise left many great photojournalists unemployed, including Pulitzer Prize winner Preston Gannaway.
    The demise of hundreds of these staff photojournalism jobs is what drives me to prepare these young journalists for the future. I tell them to take the course seriously; to use their cameras regularly; to shoot their own photo stories now, so they can show their future employer that they can multitask.
   The second half of the course is going to be challenging, to say the least. They will work with the WSU South End student newspaper and WDET to produce real work, not just homework. Assignments include shooting feature, portrait and sports assignments. The final project will be a photo story, which will include natural sound, and produced using Adobe Premiere Pro CS6.
   The power of social media will allow these students to share what they learn and do. To follow their progress, click on the Wayne State Student Blog list at the top of this blog and follow any or all of the 17 students who will one day be out there in the real world with pens, notebook and cameras in hand.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Don't make excuses: Embrace photo stories if you want a job

Aaron Mora, 7, son of the Johnston's Fruit Farm owners, inspects his bees. This was taken on the second shoot. These three photos are a sampling of the photo story I am doing on the farm, which ran in October in the Toledo Blade magazine page.

Johnston's Fruit Farm customers pick their own blueberries. Taken on my third shoot.
   Shoot ‘em and leave ‘em. Don't make this your shooting style.
   Students no longer have the option of strictly shooting single assignments. You should be shooting a photo story at any given time.
   There is nothing wrong with being a daily shooter. However, shooting photos stories is important to be competitive among your peers and competitors. These are a few of the excuses that can prevent photographers from doing photo stories:
·      Don’t have enough spare time to dedicate to the project
·      Can’t find a story to like enough
·      The subjects don’t call back
·      Fearful of becoming a pest
·      Getting bored easily
·      It's been done already
   Don't let these excuses hold you back.
   A photo story is the use of multiple images shot over an extended period of time to tell a complete story. It can be as simple as a photo essay of a county fair, or as complex as a multimedia documentary on spousal abuse that includes the use of video and audio.
   These are two reasons I have been dedicating more time to shooting photo stories:
Johnston's Fruit Farm workers in the strawberry field. Taken on first shoot.
1.     I have never entered the Ohio News Photographer (ONPA) Photographer of the Year (POY) competition because one of the requirements is to include at least one photo story.
   Here are the contest rules regarding the George Smallsreed Jr. POY entry:
“Portfolios must contain a news picture, a sports picture, a picture story and pictures from at least two other categories of the entrants choosing.” 
   It’s the lack of a picture story that prevents me from having a chance to win. A friend of mine always tells me that to win you have to enter, and she’s right. So I can only blame myself for sitting back on the sidelines and watching my terrific Toledo Blade colleagues (Katie Rausch, Jeremy Wadsworth and Andy Morrison) win POY contests.
   Contests aren’t everything, and they don't always define your overall skills, but they certainly help get better jobs, better assignments and increased self esteem.
    2. This second reason is actually the driving force to me upping my game. It’s for the students!
   How can I teach students long-form visual storytelling when I hardly did it myself?     
   It is crucial for me to push students to do photo stories. Dig a little deeper into the story. Go back again and again. Develop a relationship with the subjects. Build trust.  
   Shooting photo stories will get them jobs. There is no doubt in my military mind that the photojournalism jobs and assignments will always go to those who do not have commitment issues.  Photo stories, Photo stories, Photo stories. 
   Photographers who can write stories, shoot stills and shoot/produce a video will be much more employable. Actually, if you don't do all of those things you might be unemployable in today's multimedia-cultured world.
    So, now I must make the time to find stories I care about so I don’t get bored and thus will pick up the phone to call the sources so that I can tell their stories. 
   Storytelling is good.
   Here is a story on Mich Fest I did this year. It's a week-long music festival for only women. It was a story I had to tell because it was the last festival, ending after 40 years. 
The video:
The written story:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why an old dog can teach young smartphone pups new tricks of the camera

   On cellphone photography.
   Once again I ponder this question while updating the syllabus: Should I teach cellphone photography to students when it’s already so much a part of their lives?
   Considering my tech addicted teen daughters are still teaching me about my own iPhone6, does it make sense to add a cellphone lesson to a syllabus for college journalism students?
   I don’t doubt that most of my Wayne State photojournalism students are also tech addicted, so what could I possible teach them that they don’t know already?
   Quite a bit, actually. In fact, social media is such an essential part of journalism these days that many universities are now offering entire courses dedicated to mobile reportage.
   Here are a few lessons that I think might benefit students:
Lesson One: Selfies
   This is the age of the selfies. Yes, our youth has mastered taking photos of themselves. I certainly don’t have to teach them that! In fact, this selfie lesson is about what NOT to do. Stop taking selfies!
   Yep, I advise to stop doing it, especially while students are job searching. Potential employers expect a high level of maturity. It is no secret that companies do background checks on social media accounts. Would you hire someone who excessively documents her own exploits?  This is a red flag.
   But, if they must do it, then I advise them to create two accounts: one personal and one professional, making the professional easier to find.
Lesson Two: Law and Ethics
   Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Students need to know what’s right and wrong when publishing and sharing cellphone photos.
   The first lesson I teach them in class is about the NPPA Code of Ethics. This code should be adhered to, whether the photos are shot with a cellphone or DSLR camera.
   Consider No. 5: ‘While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.’ To me, that means no filters. Keep the image real.
   Also think about the ease of being sneaky with a cellphone, meaning that if a DSLR camera is not allowed (private funeral of slain victim, for example), then neither is a cellphone camera. It is not right, in most cases, to slyly record or photograph a subject when they are not aware.
   And lastly, you have the right to photograph police or authority figures in a public place with your cell. If they take away your device despite you following all of the rules (staying behind the police tape), they you probably have a case for a law suit.
Lesson Three: Available tools
   A smartphone camera has lots of options. So, let’s go over a few:
·      Get to know your shooting and editing tools, like flash, color correction, cropping and toning. But that's as far as it should go. No fancy stuff. Again, keep it real.
- Sometimes it’s not enough to simply point and shoot, especially if you’re publishing straight to a blog or social media site. Set your parameters first (color temperature, for example) to make your post-production work easier.
·      Download still and video editing apps, like Snapseed and Videolicious. Editing and producing your still photos and videos will make you more valuable (and hirable) in the field. Learn to use these apps, and then add this skill to your resume!
       ·      Taking a photo is part one, and writing the caption is part two. Captions are the journalism in photojournalism. So, figure out how to quickly write or transfer an AP style caption for every photo you post on Instagram, Twitter, blog, email to editor, etc. Also include your byline!
     ·      And don’t forget about #hashtags when posting to Instagram or Twitter. These can help your photos, or hurt them. Hashtags need to be smart and concise. They shouldn’t be overdone, like the Jimmy Fallon comedy skit #funny #thatisnothowyoudoit #photojournalism #cellphonelessons #oncellphones
   There are probably many more lessons and tips to share, and I'm sure I've left other important stuff out, but these are good starting points.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Summer: Time to reflect, rebuild and replenish the journalism toolbox

Screen grab of a social media tool search.
   For many college students on break, summer is all about relaxing, partying, traveling or working for tuition money.
   Unless they are attending summer school, there is no homework to ruin much-needed downtime for the brain.
   But for university instructors (and I probably speak for many), much of our summer is spent doing homework.
   I use summer to catch up on what’s new in the journalism industry, and to update lesson plans that reflect modern trends of storytelling.
   Thinking back, it seemed that being a journalism student was less tasking in the good ole days. Now I’m simplifying here, but we students primarily learned the traditional skills of interviewing, writing and editing. The basic tools included a typewriter, paper and pens for reporters; and a film camera and wet darkroom for photojournalists.
   And back then only editors had the capacity to design and disseminate news on a printed page. Oh, how I remember those design tools fondly: Xacto knives, pica poles and whiz wheels… oh my.
   I will never forget the beloved Xacto knife, which nearly cut off a couple of my fingers while finishing a page design for The Huachuca Scout military newspaper in Arizona. Not a fond memory.
   But journalism tools now a days? OH… MY… GOD!
   There are so many (countless, really) that I fear it’s impossible to teach students everything they need to know to succeed in the 21st Century. How can we possibly keep up with the industry standards when there are so, so many tools?
   Social media tools are supposed to make our lives easier, right? There is no doubt they are a necessity. So, I’m thinking the best plan is to keep it simple.
   I recently read somewhere that journalists shouldn’t maintain more than three social media tools at a time. If I go by that advise, then I need to determine the most important social media tools that I think students should know. Are they Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? Snap Chat is wanting in on the game now, and You Tube is no slouch.  
   And how we need to contain them? Consider Rebel Mouse and TweetDeck.
  Need to congregate a bunch of similar topics together, or looking for similar topics to add to your story? Try Storify or Storyful.
  How about live storytelling? Download Evrybit or Periscope on your smart phones.
  Do you get my point?
   I decided to write this blog post because I was searching for new tools to teach my photojournalism students next semester, and I wanted to share that I’ve found more than I bargained for.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Journalism schools must provide photojournalism courses to students

Breaking news story and photo by Toledo Blade political reporter Tom Troy.
Feature story and photo by Toledo Blade reporter Matt Thompson.
   Journalism students beware: Expect to take your own photos someday.
   Military journalists do. Many small-town journalists do, too. And now, so do Toledo Blade reporters.
   Traditionally, reporters at larger newspapers have been shielded from the backpack journalist concept. When reporters move up to bigger papers, they aren’t expected, nor sometimes permitted by union rules, to also provide visual storytelling.
   But, alas, the times they are changing, as exhibited by these two  screen grabs from the Toledo Blade website. Sure, these photos were taken with their cell phones, but I suppose that still counts.
   As newspapers and magazines, like the Chicago Sun-Times and Sports Illustrated, as well as corporations like Gannett, axe their photojournalists, who, then, is providing the still and video images? The reporters, of course.
   Take the Fremont News-Messenger, for example. This small-town, Northwest Ohio newspaper, owned by Gannett, just eliminated everyone’s job. Current employees are being forced to reapply for new positions, with new titles and new responsibilities, according to a source at the paper who decided not to renew his position.
   This is being done to transform into “a newsroom of the future.” This transformation is putting the photographer out of a job, and replacing him with two reporter/photographer positions.
    Now, let me finally get to the point of this blog post. I don’t have an issue with reporters who take photos, and photojournalists who write. After all, I am a retired military journalist who was trained to do both because we were expected to do both. Key word here is trained. 
    Journalism schools of the 21st Century must address this issue of additional training, and do it now. In this day and age of budget cutting and worker attrition, every basic journalism student should be taught the skills of backpack journalism.
   In my humble opinion, this is absolutely the best way to ensure that the quality, integrity and credibility of print and visual storytelling aren't eroded as modern-day journalists are expected to do more than their basic job descriptions (and for less pay).
   This is what I told my Wayne State University Digital Photojournalism students during class on Friday.
   The students, mostly print journalism and broadcasting majors, recently shot their first assignment on feature photography. They came to class flustered and confused, realizing that photojournalism is much harder than it looks on the published page.
   I reassured them that what they are feeling is completely normal because photojournalism is complex. Not only do they have to gather the facts for their stories, they also have to worry about the following elements:
·      Photo captions
·      Law, ethical and etiquette considerations
·      Camera controls (ISO, shutter speed, apertures)
·      Composition
·      Capturing the key moments
·      Transmittal issues
   Journalism students should learn these key skills before their first job, which is why I firmly believe journalism schools always have been, and always will be, necessary.
   We have to prepare students for everything. Walking into a city council meeting or a court proceeding with a pen and paper is one thing. But adding a loud clicking camera, and the necessary element of movement to get the best angle… well, that’s a whole other level of news-gathering.
Another link to a story on this issue:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Perspective and patience pays off with a front page Toledo Blade photo

Placement of this photo is front page,  top of the fold of the Toledo Blade.  Hydrant 3. (Photos by Lori King/© Toledo Blade)
Taken holding the camera over my head. Hydrant 2.
   Perspective. It is a compositional tool both my Owens Digital Pho 1 and Wayne State Digital Photojournalism classes are currently learning about.
   Perspective is one of many tools in a photographer's compositional toolbox, and I pulled it out for the above photo of a Toledo city worker digging out fire hydrants. Perspective is allowing the viewer to see a scene in a different way; from up high, down low, etc.
Taken from normal perspective. Hydrant 1.
   There's a lot going on in the published photo, so I'm going to break it down.
   This series was shot on a frigid, clear day in a neighborhood east of Broadway Ave. I was instructed to find a "rover," which is our slang for roving around town in hopes of finding a decent feature photo that would fill an empty space in the newspaper.
   I like to troll through the neighborhoods that are on the outskirts of downtown Toledo because people are more out and about, compared to suburbs. So I turned off Broadway and eventually found Ron kneeling by a fire hydrant. I got out of my car and asked if he would mind if I took a few photos of him doing his job. He was a little hesitant, as many people are when a Blade photographer approaches them, but with a little sweet talking he agreed.
   He told me was clearing snow away from 20 hydrants, so I decided I would follow him to his next hydrant because I wanted the shoveling shot.
   Patience is another tool in the toolbox that is often overlooked, and it paid off here.  I had decent shots on the first two hydrants (seen above), but I envisioned him knee-deep in snow so I followed him to three hydrants. On the third one I had a plenty of blue sky in the background, so I set a narrow aperture on a wide lens, put the camera to the ground, waited for him to shovel near the hydrant, and shot blindly away.
   It's a little crooked because I couldn't see through the viewfinder. I initially straightened the horizons in Photoshop, but my boss Dave Zapotosky suggested I leave a little room around the photo. This made sense because when the layout people crop the photo, we didn't want them to crop the top of his head or any of the snow at the top or right side.
   There is also nothing I could do about the wire going through his back. It's an accepted fact that in photojournalism there are imperfections. We are bound by the NPPA code of ethics to not manipulate our photos in any way, so the line and the street lamp remained.
   I was rewarded for getting out of my warm car and spending time with my subject with a front page rover photo today!
Screen grab of the series of photos from a low perspective.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Owens Digital Video class learns to shoot video with new Canon Rebels

     The Owens digital video class has been learning Final Cut Pro for a month now, and are finally ready to hone their skills with their own video.
     Because of a $9,000 grant for the course, the students will all be issued (through checkout when needed) their own camera kits,  which include a Canon Rebel, Sennheiser hotshot mic, tripod and LED lights.
     The course also has its own YouTube Channel. Their first assignment, an animation project, is uploaded on the channel now. 
      This is a Storify lesson I curated for them to help them understand how to use a DSLR for shooting video.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Wayne State University student PJ blogs are now up and running

   I'm happy to announce that the photojournalism blogs are now up and running for the Wayne State Digital Photojournalism students. You can also find their Twitter and Instagram usernames on their blogs, as well.
   Click on a name and add to their page views!
Alexander Franzen
Lauren Seago
Melanie Entrekin
Halie Keith
Angelique Harrison
Hope Crenshaw
Michael Ference
Emily Ridener
Allen Jackson
Kyra Johnson
Kaitlin Fazio
Wayne Bussey
Janelle Payne
Ameera Salim Al Souli
Ashourina Slewo
Cierra Anthony

Monday, January 19, 2015

Recapping the first week at Owens CC and Wayne State University

   One week down.  And what a great week it was!
   The first week is always my favorite because I meet new students, and it sets the tone for the rest of the semester.
   Here’s a quick recap:
·      The Digital Photography at Owens has 12 students, and they are already learning the nuts and bolts of their digital cameras. But they won’t get into the specifics of shutter speeds and apertures for another few weeks. But they will be learning how to meter this week.
·      The Owens CRT Digital Video class has 10 students. I’m co-teaching it with a young, bright and recent film graduate from the University of Toledo, Andrew Jex. He brings fresh shooting ideas into the course, which we are designing a bit.
-  They learned the basics of the Final Cut Pro X interface, and went through the first two chapters of the textbook.
-  Throughout the course they will be shooting assignments that include animation and classic storytelling. They will also be shooting an assignment or two for the Owens Outlook student newspaper.  It’s exciting to add video to the online student newspaper. The photo editor, commercial photography major Sean Ferry, will determine what videos will actually make the online newspaper. 
 - The course was also rewarded a $9,000 grant for equipment. We spent that pretty fast. Within a month we should be getting new DSLR camera kits with video capability, Sennheiser mics, tripods and a portable light source.
·      My largest class to teach ever is the Digital Photojournalism course at Wayne State University in Detroit. Nineteen students, mostly journalism majors, showed up Friday morning, eager to use their cameras as another storytelling tool.
Screen grab of Sandra Svoboda's profile on the WDET website.
-       We also had a guest speaker attend the class. WDET radio reporter Sandra Svoboda has given us an offer we can’t refuse. The students will be ‘unofficial’ photographers for the radio station’s website.
-    They will also be doing assignments for the South End student newspaper. Practical experience is the best way to learn, and there is no better way to give them real-world experience.
    Let Week Two begin.

WDET reporter Sandra Svoboda explains shooting opportunities for the digital photography students. (Cell photo by Lori King)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

On being busy, surviving the busyness, and enjoying it as you go

   The calm before the storm. That's how this week feels as I gear up for the start of this semester.
   This will be my weekly teaching schedule for the next four months:
  • Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 - 11:15 a.m. = Digital Photojournalism (Owens)
  • Mondays from 11:30 - 1 p.m. - Owens Outlook student media weekly meeting
  • Thursdays from 5:30 - 7:45 p.m. = Digital Video (Owens)
  • Fridays from 9:35 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. = Digital Photo (Wayne State)
   And this is will be my Blade schedule:
  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:30 - 10:30 p.m.
  • Saturday from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
   Between classes and work I will prepare lesson plans, grade assignments, and spend a limited amount of free time with my family.
   They say that it's not work if you love what you do. I can attest to that.
   But I'm not alone. When I taught the Teaching Multimedia class last semester, most of the students, who are high school teachers earning their master's degree in Journalism Education, had other jobs: coaching sports and debate teams; teaching college classes; advising student media; raising kids.
   It's absolutely crazy how much we tend to pack into our days. Why, oh why, do I do this to myself?
   That's easy to answer - because I love teaching what I do for a living!
   It's certainly not for the money. Both the journalism field and the college environment are financially suffering. Both are cutting back on personnel and supplies. But both are so utterly and vitally important for our free society.
   Journalism, or the act of disseminating valuable (and sometimes not so valuable) information to our communities, is a civic duty that dates back to the beginning of the human race: think cavemen drawing pictures on cave walls.
  I'm often asked why and how I do it.
  Why? Because teaching feeds my soul. I no longer feel like I need to be the one who produces the work. My whole goal in my seasoned life is to teach others to do it. I am basically teaching the next generation to replace me. I'm proud to be able to contribute to the future of photojournalism.
  And how?  First and foremost, it's because I want to do it. To be able to handle everything, I have to be very organized and I don't procrastinate.
  I always get a kick out of those students who tell me they are too busy to complete assignments on time because they're too busy. Seven times out of 10 they don't even have full-time jobs or kids. That proves to me that success or failure isn't measured on how busy we are, but how we handle the busyness.
  Got that students? Let me summarize:
  •   Love what you do
  •   Be organized when you do it
  •   Don't procrastinate with what you must do
  These three ingredients to success will help you ride out the semester with little or no damage to your GPA or mental stability.
   Now, before the storm rolls in and drowns me in busyness, please excuse me while I catch up on episodes of American Horror Story: Freak Show.