Reshoot - Elements of PJ

As part of our elements of photojournalism course, we were given the opportunity to reshoot one of our assignments. I chose to redo my ‘dig’ assignment. For this assignment, we picked a topic out of hat. We had to research that topic, find a subject, and turn in four images, with one that told their story really well. My topic was military families. The things that interested me immediately were resources for families, female veterans, and families with multigenerational military connections. One of the first places I reached out to was the Veteran’s Outreach Center in Rochester. They have housing programs for both male and female veterans. I was specifically interested in Priscilla’s House, which offers housing for women veterans and their children. This process started right before I went to Kentucky for the Mountain Workshops so I knew the timing might be difficult. 

While I was working to get access with Priscilla’s house, I also contacted the EquiCenter, which offers therapeutic equestrian programs for veterans and their families in addition to other populations. While photographing a lesson at the EquiCenter, I met Colleen. She was very open to me photographing her and was involved with the EquiCenter and many other resources for veterans. Although I photographed Colleen three times, I had trouble finding ways to tell her story visually. A lot of the major factors had happened in the past. I photographed her lesson at the EquiCenter, as well as her volunteer shift where she helps with lessons for kids, and went to her house to see what her time is like with family. I made some images that I was happy with, but did not feel like I told her story to the fullest and did not make a clear connection to the theme of military families. 

Earlier in the process, I had met with the Female and Family Outreach Program Manager at the VOC. Marianne is the person in charge of Priscilla’s House and had been open to me working with the women living there. Although we could not make it work in the time of the original Dig assignment, Marianne was able to connect me with Denise, one of the women living at Priscilla’s House. Denise’s story is very complex and I am still working on deciding how to share it. I felt that I had to include her voice in the project, so I ended up doing an audio interview with her. I’m hoping to share a more complete version of this project over break. This reshoot assignment showed me the importance of maintaining the connections you make, even if they don’t work out initially. Because I kept in touch with Marianne, I was able to work on this project an almost two months later. 

Portrait Assignment - Elements of PJ

One of my weakest assignments in elements of PJ was our portrait assignment, six degrees of separation. Our job was to find a subject, make an interesting, well-lit, well-composed portrait, and then use that person to find our next subject. For me, finding subjects was fun. I originally had the idea of trying to go in order of age, from youngest to oldest and trying to get a large range of ages. I had trouble getting my first subject to connect me with anyone so I moved on to my back up plan. I photographed Aurora, who I met while photographing for New Student Orientation.  Aurora started the hooperellas, a hoop performance group. I asked her to connect with people that interested her which worked pretty well. 

The larger challenge for me in this assignment was making portraits I was proud of. I am not super comfortable directing people on how to pose, and it is weird for me to try and think of concepts for environmental portraits. This was also one of my first experiences using flash, which was a challenge in itself. By the end of the assignment, I felt more confident in my ability to use flash, and I have continued to practice this skill. I was not surprised to learn that I made better portraits when I was more comfortable with my subject and they were comfortable with me. The people I took more time to get to know and more time to photograph were able to work with me better. This was really important for me to notice, as I took more time with subjects as I realized this. Over break, I am going to practice making better environmental portraits and using flash with better control. 

Editing + Design – Mountain Reflections

The editing workshop at The Mountain Workshops was incredibly educational. As editors, we were assigned to one of the photojournalism workshop teams, each with six photographers. Throughout the week, I edited for all six of my photographers. I worked on their stories and also worked to find features for the book. Working with the photogs and our wonderful photo coach, Jessica Phelps, I worked to create an edit for each story that would work well for the book. In addition to the usual questions in editing, I also had to consider how the images would read on a page and in black and white. 

The example shown here is a story shot by Lydia Schweickart, a student at WKU. Lydia’s story evolved from a story about a man who works for the fish and wildlife service into a story about family and caring for the environment. Because Lydia was able to keep shooting the story throughout the week, we continually made changes. I would make an edit, start my page design, meet with Lydia about her plans, go through her next take, and then replace an image or two in the edit. This process continued through the last day of the workshop. With Lydia’s story, I knew I didn’t have to worry about not having enough images, so I was able to really focus on finding the best way to present the story in the book.

Overall, this experience gave me so many opportunities to talk about images and storytelling. I discovered that I really love helping others other think through problems and come up with ideas for their work. I got excited about watching their ideas come to life in the same way I get excited when an editor gives me a really cool suggestion. Building professional relationships throughout the week was a great experience as I was able to adjust to each photographer’s style and needs in order to have productive conversations. Each photographer had their own struggles and successes, and each responded differently to my style of editing. By the end of the week, I felt confident in my ability to have discussions with my photographers and I felt that we had built trust and understanding into our workflow.

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