Monday, December 12, 2011

Capstone Project Work Report

I'm really proud of this project.  I definitely spent more time with this subject than I ever have before and I felt like I owned my project which is something I have never really felt before.  I got an early start, for which I'm thankful, and that allowed me to get a lot of great advice and opinions from others.

 The only thing that really aggravated me was the poor light in the kitchen and house shots that made my pictures  more noisy than I wanted them to be.  You can't really tell especially when you aren't holding them up to your face but it was something that really made editing tough.

If I could give advice to anyone else looking for a subject for a project, I would have to say it is to put yourself out there because you never know what could fall right into your lap.  If I wouldn't have approached this woman who knows what I would have ended up with for a project. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30-Day Work in Progress

I have been lucky enough to spend three days with my subject.  The first day was just talking and the second and third days were following her through her day.  She's very bored and lonely throughout the day and I think you can see that in some of the shots. I am hoping that break will allow me to be with her at different times of the day to see more of what her day is really like.

Amanda spends a lot of time looking for jobs on the computer and submitting applications and resumes online.  She is also an avid couponer and plans every trip to the store down to the penny.  I have some shots of her preparing her list, sorting coupons and sorting her "free shelves."

Amanda also goes to the food pantry once a month for all food and once a week for bread and bakery products.  I went with her on her monthly trip and I ended up getting too many shots I liked, as you can see by the numerous pantry shots in my selects.

At the beginning of the story I really thought I wanted to do a multimedia piece.  Now that I've spend some time with her and have talked to her extensively about her situation, I really feel like I could write some amazing captions for these pictures.  I thought hearing her voice was what the story needed, but I have so many great quotes and tidbits from her life I really think I can explain it better with stills and extensive captions.

Monday, November 14, 2011

CPOY Reaction

Domestic Picture Story-

I saw the first portion of this judging but had to listen to the podcast later to finish listening to the judging.  I'm always interested to hear how the judges explain what they are looking for.  When I hear them talk about no weak images or no images that aren't interesting it makes me think about some images I've previously added that I didn't think were the most compelling but I feel like they needed to be included.  I think that's a really tough situation.
Something that was really interesting was the discussion they had about spot news and how it's more difficult for the photographer to show their personality and who they really are when you are so crunched for time and capturing the moment.  I remember when I used a spot news photo essay for my original blog post and everyone commented how it was a good group of photos but hard to pin point the focus all at the same time.  It's an interesting thought how similar and different spot news and other stories with a longer timeline can actually be.
   Of the finalists I was really attracted to the California beach pictures because even though it wasn't focused on one person, it made me feel like I could understand what was going on there and how life is growing up in a place that seems to most as such paradise but so familiar for the subjects in the photos.  I was also attracted to the diving story because the light and the angles used were so appealing to my eye and I really felt like it told a good story.  I was also impressed by the photograph where he's standing alone on the high dive, not because it was particularly stunning, but because of the caption and direct quote from him about even though being the best is great it can also be lonely.  It shows a lot about him and gives a lot of insight what it's like to be training as an onlympic athlete.

The Sunday large group multimedia was a much smaller group but they talked about each story extensively.  What I heard from the judges was the most important thing to them was a site that was easily navigable while also providing an abundance of news and information in a timely and concise manner.  They were all a fan of the coal piece because they liked the way it looked, it offered many different things including a coal calculator for each reader to calculate how much coal they use individually each year. The story incorporated above average to great professional level work in all aspects from still photographs, to videos, to reporting, and web design.

One of the biggest pet peeves of the judges was time lapse used in a few of the finalist work.  They said they believe it is used too often because of the ability of everyone to do it now.  So note to self, lay off the time lapse for a few years.

The strongest pieces in this were heavily based on  high level of reporting that had been edited down to the bare nuts and bolts of what was trying to be said while also not giving up any of the character in the story.  That struck me as the most important thing I would take away from that part of the competition because I have a tendency not to want to cut things down because I don't feel like it will have the same effect if cut out parts of it.  In reality being able to cut and piece stories back together in a smaller and easier to handle package is the best way to really tell the story.  I really feel like I'm getting better with that and I'm definitely glad I saw this portion of the competition because if nothing else it was a great reminder of what others look for in a good story.

Reading Response from 10/5


   Reading Lamott never ceases to amaze me.  Looking Around and The Moral Point of View chapters, even though they are specifically about writing, are also so tied to visual story telling it's incredible.  Reading Looking Around made me want to go outside and take everything in.  To let go of judgements and actually appreciate things for what they are.
   When I read the part about reading the signs it took me back a few years.  One of my friends had just passed away in a car accident and they sent me and the family into this big room that I could only refer to as the "death room" because I assumed that's where they took everyone who was hysterical after losing a loved one.  The doctors came in and told us what went wrong and that eventually led to organ donation discussion and on and on.  Everything seemed like a daze until I looked up and saw a small sign hanging alone on the wall.  It said "Come and humble yourself by the mighty hand of God." All of a sudden it was like my brain soaked up every part of that room.  It was an invitation to look around and try to understand the moment even though it was something I didn't, and never will be able to, understand.
    It's amazing how much paying attention to the little pieces of life can affect it so much.   That's the same for photographs.  The smallest details or moments can mean the most to a story and it's so important to get in the mindset to try to accept everything at more than face value.

Moral Point of View is interesting because it's as if she's saying if you don't have anything to add to the conversation, don't bother.  Even if you have a good message, sometimes you can't do any more than one sentence with it.  When I read this I thought about our story proposals and how some stories that sound like they will be great are really hard to tell visually in an interesting way.  Some written stories would be better told with pictures but sometimes you have to accept, even if it's something amazing as "My religion is kindness" there is nothing more to say and move on to something that you can build on instead of falling backwards.

The Great Photographic Essays

   This piece is incredible because it provides so much information about the history and makings of photo stories in such a small space.It's a compilation of all the facts and people and history we have been learning throughout our photojournalism courses but each described in such a personalized way.
   It's absolutely incredible that some of these stories were created during a time photo equipment was so bulky and obvious but these photographer were still able to get into the action and capture honest emotion even though it feels like they would have been a large part of the scene.  It really makes me think about how much easier it should be for me to get up close and in the nooks and crannies of each story because I have the materials to make it easier to do so.
   Aside from the determination and creativity of Gene Smith that we saw in the movie, I was most impressed by Donna Ferrato in this piece because there were direct quotes from her about how she did care about the people she was photographing and that's why she only photographed them and never stepped in. She used her photography as a weapon to show others what kinds of abuse are happening in houses all over the country.  I worry about being put in a spot where I feel compelled to step in.  I think if that time ever comes I will know deep down inside what to do but reading Ferrato's segment in this piece made me think about things a little differently.  Maybe sometimes the picture will really be more important to stop what is happening than actually physically stopping the action.

The Picture Essay

I really liked this reading because of the format.  Even if some of the questions are ones I never thought of asking I think the answers make more sense when they follow real questions.  The most thought provoking tidbit for me was when he mentions experiencing the situation or place you are going to shoot in and then making the list of the most important characteristics or feelings of the place.  It makes so much sense to map out what the feelings and emotions are and then trying to capture them instead of crossing your fingers and hoping you can create emotions by whatever pictures you happen to get out of the shoot.
   It never ceases to amaze me even though photography is all about what you do with the camera its also so much about everything else in the world.

Make-Up Response from 9/2

Gross and Shapiro 72-80

   This reading was very interesting because it invites the reader to experiment with photography.  When we are learning how to take pictures and what we think is important, sometimes that can consume us and our creativity and sometimes that can lead to some not so exciting images.
   The authors mention using things like changing angles, lenses and framing to make the images more interesting.  I can honestly say, even though it doesn't always show, these are things I look for in every shot.  How can I make this picture more visually interesting but at the same time keep a focus on the subject or event?  I feel like if you can answer that and just be willing to try new things, even if it doesn't work out or you don't get the shot you want it's still a step in the right direction.
   I think the most important section of the piece is the list of rules and then the list of how to break them.  We all hear about shooting at high noon and how it's awful or rule of thirds is important, but it's nice to read something that allows experimentation and almost defiance because with freedom comes more room for creativity and creativity equals fresh ideas and hopefully really interesting and thought provoking images.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Job Profile Self Critique

   I had a lot of fun shooting this project, but I really wish I could have had more variety in my shots.  I wanted to go shopping or be there for her at-home preparation but she didn't do either of those during the week and a half I was with her.  Also I have a couple of audio bloops because I used Final Cut Pro X for the first time and had a really hard time figuring out how to do everything including fade in and fade outs.
   Aside from the audio and what I feel was a lack of variety from the images, I really did like the selects I ended up with and I really like the project.  I think if I was with her longer I would have a really solid story.