30 Day Project – Nature Dwellers

The capstone! It is complete! To be honest, I’ll probably keep working at it after I graduate because a couple of my subjects dropped out last minute and I’d like to expand the project a bit more.

I chose to do a photo essay, which is new territory for me, but I think as a first attempt I’ve done alright. I was particularly worried about cohesiveness because being disjointed is usually what causes photo essays to fail. It’s hard when you have many subjects and many locations to get the images to blend together naturally but still be unique. It’s a balance I struggled with, but I tried to keep it simple using shapes and framing to keep the essay from derailing.

To really tell the story I decided to include extended captions. My essay was about people who still enjoy the outdoors, either in work situations or hobbies, even in the modern age when there are more and more gadgets to distract people from exploring nature. I interviewed each subject to get a sense of why they enjoyed the outdoors so much, how they came to understand this passion, and how it has changed their lives. A few of my subjects also commented on the changing global landscape and how they think less time spent outdoors will affect future generations.

Enjoy!

Susan Hazelwood has been birding since 1980. Susan explained the difference between bird watching and birding is that birders have more expertise on the birds whereas bird watchers just appreciate looks.  She wears the title Birder with the utmost respect. But birding wasn’t always a great interest of hers, “Birding was something my husband did. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away, so here I am!” Susan could only avoid it for so long; eventually the lure of travel and being outdoors convinced her to take it up as a hobby of her own. The farthest she’s traveled is Alaska, but she likes to go on many birding vacations with other birders around the United States. Her favorite bird is a Trogon, found in the southwest, which she proudly displays it on her license plate.

Susan Hazelwood has been birding since 1980. Susan explained the difference between bird watching and birding is that birders have more expertise on the birds whereas bird watchers just appreciate looks. She wears the title Birder with the utmost respect. But birding wasn’t always a great interest of hers, “Birding was something my husband did. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away, so here I am!” Susan could only avoid it for so long; eventually the lure of travel and being outdoors convinced her to take it up as a hobby of her own. The farthest she’s traveled is Alaska, but she likes to go on many birding vacations with other birders around the United States. Her favorite bird is a Trogon, found in the southwest, which she proudly displays it on her license plate.

Ducks fly after being startled at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area in McBaine, Mo. Eagle Bluffs is a destination for migaratory waterfowl birds, such as ducks and geese. There are many reasons why ducks and other birds form flocks. Being in a flock allows the birds extra protection, easier foraging, and better aerodynamic efficiency while they fly. Ducks also form family units and like staying together.

Ducks fly after being startled at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area in McBaine, Mo. Eagle Bluffs is a destination for
migaratory waterfowl birds, such as ducks and geese. There are many reasons why ducks and other birds form
flocks. Being in a flock allows the birds extra protection, easier foraging, and better aerodynamic efficiency while
they fly. Ducks also form family units and like staying together.

Susan Hazelwood with her trusty binoculars.

Susan Hazelwood with her trusty binoculars.

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Deb Schultehenrich is a quail, pheasant, and duck hunter. Always trailing behind her is her dog, Gus, a German Shorthair pointer. Her family passed the hunting enthusiasm on to her at a young age. “Hunting is something I have always done,” says Deb. But her passion for the outdoors goes beyond hunting birds. “I like the fact that every time you go outdoors you experience something different than the last time you were outdoors,” says Deb. “Maybe there’s a turkey gobbling, or the first Dutchman’s Breeches are blooming, or the prairies have turned bright gold, or the snow is piled high on the cedar trees, or maybe it’s just the smell of fresh hay being cut. It’s the place I am most comfortable.” Deb’s noticed a decrease in environmental enthusiasm in the community however. “I am concerned this lack of interest in participating in outdoor activities is having an affect on the public’s relationship with the environment,” says Deb. “This disconnect with the natural environment makes them less likely to advocate for environmental causes or public land acquisition and protection.” Deb attributes this decrease in interest with the changing global landscape. Fewer and fewer people are growing up on ranches or farms, and therefore have less association with the land than people have had in the past.

Deb Schultehenrich is a quail, pheasant, and duck hunter. Always trailing behind her is her dog, Gus, a German Shorthair pointer. Her family passed the hunting enthusiasm on to her at a young age. “Hunting is something I have always done,” says Deb. But her passion for the outdoors goes beyond hunting birds. “I like the fact that every time you go outdoors you experience something different than the last time you were outdoors,” says Deb. “Maybe there’s a turkey gobbling, or the first Dutchman’s Breeches are blooming, or the prairies have turned bright gold, or the snow is piled high on the cedar trees, or maybe it’s just the smell of fresh hay being cut. It’s the place I am most comfortable.” Deb’s noticed a decrease in environmental enthusiasm in the community however. “I am concerned this lack of interest in participating in outdoor activities is having an affect on the public’s relationship with the environment,” says Deb. “This disconnect with the natural environment makes them less likely to advocate for environmental causes or public land acquisition and protection.” Deb attributes this decrease in interest with the changing global landscape. Fewer and fewer people are growing up on ranches or farms, and therefore have less association with the land than people have had in the past.

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Bradford Farm is a part of MU Extension that conducts research in agricultural and wildlife studies. They also offer educational opportunities to the community about how to manage their crops and land, and how to be as sustainable as possible. Tim Reinbott is the superintendent of Bradford Farm, and wants to help educate the public as much as possible about incorporating wildlife into their agriculture.  Tim came from an outdoorsy family with a father who taught him to appreciate the outdoors for what it is: our livelihood as citizens of the planet. Reinbott says he’d like to encourage farmers and landowners to be more accepting of wildlife and plant more diversified crops and grasses so that they offer better protection for certain kinds of wildlife that aren’t damaging to their land. “Wildlife is much more than pests to farmers,” says Reinbott. He thinks the best way to share this with the community is to hold workshops at the farm, particularly with 4-H clubs and their families.

Bradford Farm is a part of MU Extension that conducts research in agricultural and wildlife studies. They also offer educational opportunities to the community about how to manage their crops and land, and how to be as sustainable as possible. Tim Reinbott is the superintendent of Bradford Farm, and wants to help educate the public as much as possible about incorporating wildlife into their agriculture. Tim came from an outdoorsy family with a father who taught him to appreciate the outdoors for what it is: our livelihood as citizens of the planet. Reinbott says he’d like to encourage farmers and landowners to be more accepting of wildlife and plant more diversified crops and grasses so that they offer better protection for certain kinds of wildlife that aren’t damaging to their land. “Wildlife is much more than pests to farmers,” says Reinbott. He thinks the best way to share this with the community is to hold workshops at the farm, particularly with 4-H clubs and their families.

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Virgil decided from a young age that being outside and fishing was what he wanted to do with his life. It was almost everyone’s way of life in his rural, farming community.  But with age came more complications and distractions. “I went through the stages of schooling, and kind of forgot what fishing was about. Then came an opportunity for me to go fishing with mentors along the way,” says Virgil. His father died when he was six, so he had to find other adult figures to take him fishing. As an adult, Virgil would take friends fishing, and one of them suggested making a business out of it.  Virgil then became a fishing guide and outfitter, traveling through Canada and Alaska with small groups. His business eventually led to him traveling abroad, which he thanks fishing for every time he goes.  But what really matters to Virgil is camaraderie. “The fellowship people have when they’re hunting and fishing has lent itself to be the best thing that has happened to me.” His favorite job is to take families on trips, which to him makes it a special outing.  Virgil says there’s more opportunities now to get families out and fishing together, but people are involved in many things in the modern age, so trying to find time is hard for younger generations to get out into nature and explore it. “A lot of people find other things to do with their time than fishing, which in my opinion is not good, because any outing you do with your family and friends is pretty hard to beat.”

Virgil decided from a young age that being outside and fishing was what he wanted to do with his life. It was almost everyone’s way of life in his rural, farming community. But with age came more complications and distractions. “I went through the stages of schooling, and kind of forgot what fishing was about. Then came an opportunity for me to go fishing with mentors
along the way,” says Virgil. His father died when he was six, so he had to find other adult figures to take him fishing. As an adult, Virgil would take friends fishing, and one of them suggested making a business out of it. Virgil then became a fishing guide and outfitter, traveling through Canada and Alaska with small groups. His business eventually led to him traveling abroad, which he thanks fishing for every time he goes. But what really matters to Virgil is camaraderie. “The fellowship people have when they’re hunting and fishing has lent itself to be the best thing that has happened to me.” His favorite job is to take families on trips, which to him makes it a special outing. Virgil says there’s more opportunities now to get families out and fishing together, but people are involved in many things in the modern age, so trying to find time is hard for younger generations to get out into nature and explore it. “A lot of people find other things to do with their time than fishing, which in my opinion is not good, because any outing you do with your family and friends is pretty hard to beat.”

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One walk over 35 years ago led to Mike Jenner’s passion for rock climbing. Mike was a student at Mizzou at the time, hiking around Capen Park when he saw a couple of guys rock climbing. Curious, he stepped over to them and asked them about it. They were generous enough to let him make his first climb that day. Now Mike travels all over North America for climbing. He thinks that Boone County is a great place to practice his hobby, but his all time favorite is in the Sierras in California. Mike spends many resources and tolerates the injuries from rock climbing because it’s a great mix of skills. “Rock climbing allows you to focus, to drive everything else out. It takes strength, but it’s also a mental sport,” Mike says. You may be strapped into a harness but there’s a lot of courage involved in rock climbing according to Mike. Unlike many other outdoor activities, Mike believes that rock climbing is on the rise. He attributes this to indoor climbing gyms, but he thinks it’s a lot harder of a transition from inside to the great outdoors than most people think. “It’s a good thing that people are climbing more, but I also hate to be climbing in a crowd,” says Mike. Even though Mike wants some quiet when climbing, he usually climbs with friends that he’s met around the country. It’s a good idea for safety reasons, but he also just enjoys the company.

One walk over 35 years ago led to Mike Jenner’s passion for rock climbing. Mike was a student at Mizzou at the time, hiking around Capen Park when he saw a couple of guys rock climbing. Curious, he stepped over to them and asked them about it. They were generous enough to let him make his first climb that day. Now Mike travels all over North America for climbing. He thinks that Boone County is a great place to practice his hobby, but his all time favorite is in the Sierras in California. Mike spends many resources and tolerates the injuries from rock climbing because it’s a great mix of skills. “Rock climbing allows you to focus, to drive everything else out. It takes strength, but it’s also a mental sport,” Mike says. You may be strapped into a harness but there’s a lot of courage involved in rock climbing according to Mike. Unlike many other outdoor activities, Mike believes that rock climbing is on the rise. He attributes this to indoor climbing gyms, but he thinks it’s a lot harder of a transition from inside to the great outdoors than most people think. “It’s a good thing that people are climbing more, but I also hate to be climbing in a crowd,” says Mike. Even though Mike wants some quiet when climbing, he usually climbs with friends that he’s met around the country. It’s a good idea for safety reasons, but he also just enjoys the company.

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Jim Karpowicz got his start in filming from his family. His dad and brother were both in the television business and Jim spent a lot of time learning the ropes and fumbling with cameras. “As a little kid I was always drawn to the creeks and the woods, and I realized as an adult I’d have to cobble together some sort of career that paid money that would have something to do with the outdoors.” He decided that with his basic knowledge of TV equipment he could start his own business as a nature videographer and filmmaker. “I was able to take the skills I learned at the TV station and concentrate on the outdoors,” says Jim. He continues with a laugh, “I guess it sort of worked, I was able to put a few kids through college, pay a mortgage.” He takes his job seriously though, spending a lot of time while out on the job thinking about frames and setting up equipment, but he says even in that process he has to look up at his surroundings sometimes and admire the career he’s built for himself. He’s been able to travel all over from Nevada to Nicaragua, and is amazed every time that he’s paid to do something he enjoys so much.

Jim Karpowicz got his start in filming from his family. His dad and brother were both in the television business and Jim spent a lot of time learning the ropes and fumbling with cameras. “As a little kid I was always drawn to the creeks and the woods, and I realized as an adult I’d have to cobble together some sort of career that paid money that would have something to do with the outdoors.” He decided that with his basic knowledge of TV equipment he could start his own business as a nature videographer and filmmaker. “I was able to take the skills I learned at the TV station and concentrate on the outdoors,” says Jim. He continues with a laugh, “I guess it sort of worked, I was able to put a few kids through college, pay a mortgage.” He takes his job seriously though, spending a lot of time while out on the job thinking about frames and setting up equipment, but he says even in that process he has to look up at his surroundings sometimes and admire the career he’s built for himself. He’s been able to travel all over from Nevada to Nicaragua, and is amazed every time that he’s paid to do something he enjoys so much.

69th CPOY Judging

The only judging I was able to view in person at all was the documentary category, which is a shame, but I was glad I got to see this one out of all of the others. It’s a category with an extremely wide variety of subjects, and the winners from this category produce some of the best photojournalism I’ve ever seen. Documentary photojournalism to me is basically the essence of what photojournalism was created to accomplish. It shows people from all around world, particularly now in our modern age of high speed information sharing, issues that they couldn’t really see on their own. I think this category requires the most bravery and persistence. Because of this I’m usually in awe by what I see more so than in any other judging session.

This year there were a number of great stories, stories I would be particularly happy with being able to pull off. It amazes me how fast the judges go through these stories, considering the number of entries and how good most of them are. The judges are of course, trained professionals that have discerning eyes but it is nonetheless impressive to me.

In the first round of serious discussion and narrowing down in this category (I think they made it down to around 10 images), one of the judges remarked how difficult it was to choose. But what I really noticed was that the judges were largely in agreement. They immediately picked out a couple that they knew would be at the top of the pack, and spent more time discussing the ones at the bottom, and why they were there. They were doing this partially for our benefit, but I think if they had been sitting alone in a room together they probably would have said all the same things.

In my time as a photo editor at the Missourian I’ve found it’s useful to talk out what my initial reaction is, and to get the opinion of fellow editors or photographers. It’s reassuring, and it really explains where I’m coming from, which is useful from an editorial standpoint because we’re trying to show the most truthful image possible. If I have a reaction to something for a personal reason, that doesn’t benefit, or actually harms the journalistic integrity of the newspaper, then my opinion is pretty much moot and the edit needs to be given to fresh, less biased eyes.

The main justifications for stories being moved to the bottom of the pack were that the story didn’t have enough focus, and it wasn’t in depth or personal enough. If the story was too unfocused a comment such as, “it tried to do too many things,” was usually said. I find it hard as a photographer sometimes to just pick one thing to go for, but it’s necessary for cohesion. With words you can spell it out clearly to readers, with images they have to tell the story without words at least initially. The images have to be clear, especially when working as a group. There is no room for confusion or you lose the viewer. And it’s especially important for the documentary category to have depth. These stories are meant to be long term, with lots of time and research spent. You can practically feel the weight of the stories if they’re done well. As a photographer I sit in awe at how many hours the photographer had to spend and how much they had to care to do so much work. If the photographer doesn’t care about their work it shows, and it tells the viewer that they shouldn’t really care either.

Audio Slideshow: Joy Amuedo, Local Artist

Joy Amuedo Character Profile from Katie Bell on Vimeo.

I struggle with audio a lot, so this project was definitely a challenge for me. I enjoyed spending time with Joy in her home, which is clearly more hers than her husband’s since there are tid bits of art projects in the works in practically every room. The audio was challenging though because Joy is an animal lover. She has three cats, two dogs and three birds. The dogs were barking outside so we let them in so they wouldn’t make noise, but as soon as they came in the birds started chirping. The birds could be heard clearly in every room in the house, even with the door closed and a blanket shoved in the crack between the door and the floor. I thought it could be good ambient sound, since she is constantly surrounded by her pets while she works and they are often making noises. Purring, barking, chirping, all are heard nearly around the clock at this house. But since I didn’t photograph the birds and it’s not central to the story, the chirping is more distracting than anything. Next time I’ll try and figure out what her house sounds like in advance so I can be more prepared.

False Starts

The Lamott chapter on false starts particularly spoke to me. I thought it was very true that people who are in a creative field, such as writing or photography, try and plan out everything in advance, and think they know exactly where their vision and story is going. It’s good to be prepared and do some brainstorming before they make the first stab at their project, but limiting themselves to their initial idea can blind them to other possibilities that can make the story more complex or finished. The coverage can turn into a falsity if the photographer tries to make a story something it’s not, just because it fits their framework. The photos in this type of situation usually end up looking forced and not genuine. Photojournalism is all about showing the truth, so this defeats the purpose. Opening your eyes up to every possibility can allow you to see some cool details you may have ignored before.

Another thing I really appreciated in this chapter was when she said it’s important to get to know your characters “beyond all the things they aren’t.” She said we basically have to plop down and spend time with our subjects, get to know them inside and out. Their quirks and beliefs, their habits, all of these things are a part of their humanity, and including them will only enhance the storytelling.

I really related to the chapter “How Do You Know When You’re Done?” Lamott very simply states, “You just do.” Creative people are often their hardest critics, and sometimes you’ll never be completely happy with how your story or essay turns out, but there comes a point when you just have to say there’s nothing more to do. I did my best with what was there. The mantra, “You just do”, also applies to when you know you need more. There’s just this itching feeling at the back of your brain saying, “but you need something else!” Follow that feeling until you know what it is you need. If it’s attainable, go for it! Or you’ll never forgive yourself.

Class Reading Reflection 10/13

In Hurn and Jay’s reading about photo essays, they said that most photographers work on projects, not making a single, fantastic image. And often “single images” are drawn from these projects that they have an integral part of. In my experience I’ve never gone out to make just one image. I’ve always thought there should be a story-making mentality, no matter how you think it will turn out.

They also said that how a project turns out depends greatly on what publication it’s supposed to be for. Magazines vs. newspapers, and if it was commissioned to tell a biased point of view, etc. Stories can be edited, and even manipulated, in many ways so that the feel of the entire piece can be altered significantly. It’s good for the photographer to whittle down these things and figure out why they’re doing a project so that they can shoot more in line with their intended outcome. They have to know what they’re trying to say, especially in essays, which are often about social issues and often take a more biased viewpoint than photo stories.

It’s especially important to lay out the ideas of the photo essay beforehand since they can be disjointed and confusing. It’s the photographer’s job to make sure that the story is as cohesive as possible, which is difficult when there are so many characters and settings in an essay. Doing “visual research”, as Hurn said, beforehand is very important to getting the story right.

I also found it really interesting when Hurn said that photographers often make the mistake of taking photos of the most visually interesting things, not necessarily what would represent the story or event the best. It seems counterintuitive to say that you shouldn’t only look for visually interesting things. As a photojournalist the first responsibility is to the reader, who needs to know the facts of the story. If the more true, informative images are less visually appealing, it’s the photographer’s job to make them as visually appealing as possible. The truth wins out in the end.

One-Day Photo Story

Volunteers prepare to take off from the Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

Volunteers prepare to take off from the Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

A father and his two children watch as others approach their boat at the Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

A father and his two children watch as others approach their boat at the Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

Bags of trash collected from the Missouri River sit on the bank at the Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

Bags of trash collected from the Missouri River sit on the bank at the Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

Two young volunteers wait for their boat at the Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

Two young volunteers wait for their boat at the Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

Joan Read examines an animal skeleton at the River Festival in Boonville, Mo. on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.  Volunteers could submit strange findings from the Missouri River River Relief Clean-Up for prizes.

Joan Read examines an animal skeleton at the River Festival in Boonville, Mo. on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Volunteers could submit strange findings from the Missouri River River Relief Clean-Up for prizes.

A boat operator gives his boat of volunteers directions for the River Clean-Up at Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on the Missouri River. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

A boat operator gives his boat of volunteers directions for the River Clean-Up at Franklin Island Conservation Area boat ramp on the Missouri River. Adults and children alike volunteered their time to clean up different areas of the Missouri River around Boonville, Mo.

Paul Davis picks up an old bottle found in the Missouri River by a volunteer at the Missouri River Relief Clean-Up Festival on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 in Boonville, Mo. Volunteers could submit strange trash they found in the river for prizes.

Paul Davis picks up an old bottle found in the Missouri River by a volunteer at the Missouri River Relief Clean-Up Festival on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 in Boonville, Mo. Volunteers could submit strange trash they found in the river for prizes.

Paul Davis demonstrates the use of a comb and full bottle of hairspray at the Missouri River Relief Clean-Up Festival in Boonville, Mo. on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.  The items were submitted in the "Most Fashionable" category of strange items found by volunteers while they were cleaning the Missouri River.

Paul Davis demonstrates the use of a comb and full bottle of hairspray at the Missouri River Relief Clean-Up Festival in Boonville, Mo. on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. The items were submitted in the “Most Fashionable” category of strange items found by volunteers while they were cleaning the Missouri River.

This is my final edit for the Missouri River Relief Clean-Up and Festival. I found it a bit more difficult to photograph than I had thought initially. It can be difficult to find focus at a festival. Since the group of volunteers was constantly changing as groups were getting in different boats it was difficult to get names or to get them to spell them to me. A couple people didn’t want their names or their children’s names to be published anywhere, but were okay with me taking photos as long as they weren’t identified.

As an art photographer that’s not really an issue, as long as you have their permission you don’t necessarily need their name. But if you’re working for a publication, names are pretty necessary to run an image of someone. There are only a few, very extreme exceptions that rarely happen. In the future I suppose if I’m shooting for a journalistic publication I’ll make sure I don’t use images without names, and try not to photograph people before getting their permission and proper spelling of their names.

Subject Matter

This week I especially related to the reading by Hurn and Jay. Selecting subject material shouldn’t be a process to pander to the masses, but if it’s for a publication then any photo project should appeal at least to some people.

They said that the better photo stories come from photographers who choose a subject that they’re deeply interested in. If a photographer pursues a subject they’re interested in, they’re more likely to be thorough in their research and understanding, and want to do justice by it. Good photos can be made without curiosity, but it makes the act of photographing much more enjoyable.

I also thought Anne Lamott’s chapter Polaroid was interesting. The idea of taking a stab at something, just because it interests you, isn’t necessarily a waste of time. It can develop into something different and substantial the more you explore it. Or it can open you up to all kinds of other possibilities. Like Hurn and Jay said, if it makes you curious, pursue it, care about it, and try your hardest to communicate your care for it to others.

Editing Assignment

T. J. and I agreed on pretty much all of the photos we chose. We decided we needed a portrait of the little girl, which is the cover. We needed a scene setter, which is the image at the pageant where they’re putting boots on her. Details are nice, such as them painting her nails before heading out, and all of her clothing and blankets on the ground in the pageant hall. We also thought it would be necessary to show an image of her on stage, to emphasize that it was a competition, as well as add an image of the judges looking incredibly serious about a toddler pageant. We also thought it would be nice to have a conclusion picture that wrapped up the story nicely. The image of the father and daughter resting at the end seemed like a good choice to show that they were tired and done for the day.

Rising Royalty

Shitty First Drafts and Perfectionism

After reading Anne Lamott, I found that her writing techniques and hard truths apply to my photographic woes and successes. Whenever I’m sent out to a scene, either for staff or because I’m meeting a subject for the first time, it takes me awhile to get into my groove, more time than I’d like to admit. I have to make the subject comfortable, first of all, if they know I’m there. And if it’s a spot news situation I have to take in everything and handle all of the fast-paced action going on around me. I try not to be overwhelmed, but usually I am at first. I’m still figuring out the scene. But I try to pop off some shots just so I know I have something if it’s spot news. And I try to make pictures with subjects right away so that they get used to the sound of a shutter clicking and me moving around and doing odd things. They start to get used to it and feel less awkward and just do their thing. And I comfort myself by saying no one will see these first, most likely terrible, images. Well Jackie does in staff, but she doesn’t judge too harshly since she’s also a photographer.

I also really related to Lamott’s chapter on perfectionism. I’m the child of two fairly hard working and successful people, so I thought I always had to do the best in order for them to approve of what I did with my time. It became second nature to me to constantly question myself as to if something I did was “perfect”. Nothing’s perfect. And the sooner photographers and other artists come to know that, the better their work will be. Lamott said that perfection is the roadblock to inventiveness. Creativity is everything in a creative field, obviously. You have to be willing to try new things, get your hands dirty so to speak, and maybe something unique and amazing will come out of it. You won’t know until you try.

This also relates to the Gross and Shapiro reading on changing things up. I find that my most creative photos are when I take a stance that I haven’t taken before or have rarely taken. I get up high, I go down low, or I change my lens to a macro, a fish eye, a long lens, and the entire thing changes for me, in a refreshing and exciting way. It’s also more fun to shoot that way. I get excited about the possibilities if I always strive to change things up. It’s good to have a set of cardinal rules to follow so that you know you can get a decent shot. It’s like they told us in staff photo, when you go on assignment take the expected, safe shots that cover your ass, but then get experimental and adventurous, basically have fun. That’s when you can happen upon magic shots.

Picture Story and Photographic Essay (First Post!)

This blog will serve as my class blog for my capstone, The Picture Story and Photographic Essay with Rita Reed at the Missouri School of Journalism. It’s been a long journey, college, but the end is in sight!

Our first assignment was to find a great picture story. So of course I went to The Lens Blog. Here is what I found:

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/photographing-both-sides-in-ukraine/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

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Yeah. That’s an eyeful. War photographers are a whole other breed to me, they have to be proactive, able to withstand all of the horror they witness, and wise enough to save their own hides if situations get nasty. But more than the sheer tenacity it takes to be a war photographer, Mauricio Lima’s photo story is great because it went beyond just visually disturbing and violent imagery.

Anyone can snap a shot of someone dead on the ground and it be considered newsworthy. His access to me is astounding. He was able to get close enough to both sides of the conflict to show them in down moments, not just action shots where he’s hardly noticed. The more emotional photos for me are the ones not in the middle of conflict. It’s those “down moments” that make the story for me because they show people’s true emotions as they react to their situations. They have had time to process what’s going on, and despite how bleak it is, they show resilience. It’s incredibly inspiring to me, and is more revealing about the conflict in the Ukraine and how it affects the people than the action shots do. That’s real digging, that’s real journalism.

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