the [__________] adventures of erin*carly


9 years, 5 months ago blogging, grad school, travels 3

day336 :: year four

It’s amazing how fast time flies by, even as the days feel like they’ll never end.

A year and a half ago, I packed up my life (and Scott’s, too) and moved to Columbia, Missouri to embark on a brilliant adventure called grad school. Little did I know how attached I had grown to our comfy apartment and to spending hours on end in the photo lab (and Missourian, for that matter).

Perhaps it wasn’t the structures that felt like home, but the people contained within.

We’ve arrived in Arlington, and I’m quickly realizing how disconnected I feel right now from that camaraderie I was enjoying just weeks earlier. My brain is still in grad school mode, caring more about journalism, photo nerdery and finishing my degree than what most of the people I see around me are caring about. I almost feel like I’m not quite ready for the real world, not quite done incubating.

Good thing my internship at NPR starts on the 10th of January, and the Washington program shortly thereafter. It’s time to learn to fly on my own!

day338 :: year four
Welcome home.

Picture Story: Of House and Home

9 years, 5 months ago classwork, grad school, multimedia, projects 1

This is the audio and picture version of my final project story titled:
Of House and Home: Sheila Durnil’s journey through heartache and hope.

Please pardon the toning on the images at the moment – Final Cut Express decided to ignore the hours of toning I spent earlier to make the photos look perfect. I’ll be revising this file once I figure out how to correct the color.

Picture Story: High School Heeler, revised.

9 years, 6 months ago classwork, grad school, photography, projects 0

You’re not seeing double. I’m reposting this with a slight re-edit of the images for class. I haven’t looked at this story in a while, and I do think that this edit is a bit stronger. (And who can resist a neon-yellow horse cake? Really!)


Sophomore Tanner Brundage looks for his mother’s car on Sept. 16, 2010 outside of Jefferson City High School in Jefferson City, Mo. This was the last time his mother needed to pick him up at the end of the day, as today was his 16th birthday. Immediately after school, he took and passed his driver’s test.


While typical high school boys are involved with the traditional team sports offered by their school, such as football or baseball, Tanner competes in team roping for Missouri High School Rodeo and cowboy mounted shooting with Show Me Mounted Shooters. He began riding horses almost four years ago, and discovered roping after some of his riding friends started lessons with Mark Jobe, a roping instructor in Jefferson City. Many of the teens who compete in Missouri High School Rodeo grew up in rodeo families, but Tanner’s family has only recently been involved. “We’re kinda the rarity,” his mother Kim said. “We’re not the only ones, but most have been doing this forever.”


After spending the afternoon competing about six inches of mud, Tanner takes a hose to clean off the tack on his 12-year old horse, Cochise. His friend and neighbor Macy Randolph, 13, patiently waits for her turn, as her earlier attempts to gain control of the hose led to Tanner dousing her with water. While high school rodeo is not an organized team sport, many of the teens in the Jefferson City area practice together.


Gary Kueffer, right, holds tight onto the rope around the calf’s horns while Tanner attempts to catch its heels during an open team roping session at a small family rodeo on Saturday, Sept. 11 outside of Vienna, Mo. The open event allows combined teams of varying ages, letting teenagers compete with the more seasoned adults. Tanner prefers to compete as a heeler, which he says is the more challenging position in roping. He said that according to Mark Jobe, Tanner’s instructor, “You need to be a better roper for the heels, and a better horseman for the head.”


In honor of Tanner’s 16th birthday, his mother Kim ordered a cake made out of cupcakes to bring to roping practice on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010. “It’s supposed to be his horse,” she said about the conspicuously bright depiction of Cochise.

Picture Story: Kelly Schultz, revised.

9 years, 6 months ago classwork, grad school, multimedia, projects 0

Heeding comments in class and from my instructor, Rita Reed, I’ve re-edited my profile on Kelly Schultz, previously a candidate for the 21st District of the Missouri House of Representatives. I say previously since the project was photographed before the election. Sadly, she didn’t win.

In any case, here’s the revised version, which I am much happier to share on my blog.

Picture Story: Did these photographers expect to become ‘prominent?’

9 years, 6 months ago blogging, classwork, grad school, writing 0

A PSA for all my photojournalism friends writing theses this coming semester:

Please do not turn your thesis into a book unless it’s got unicorns and rainbows in it.

While I appreciate the hard work in researching and writing a thesis, academic writing does not make for a riveting read. Loup Langton, if you’re out there, many apologies. The work is thorough and excellent, but it’s really hard for me to write a blog post reaction to a very extensive academic chapter on the history of photojournalism. I feel like these reactions are to be something that maybe clicks in our heads that make us realize “oh! so that’s why I feel this way when XX happens” or “glad I’m not the only one who does XX.” With this chapter, I felt like I was being inundated with the entire history of photojournalism in just 30 pages.

There were some key points I flagged, including the importance of technology that pops up in almost every age of photojournalism. Boiling the history into one congruent chapter made the discussion of technology appear as a thread to tie all of the different events and changes together. From wet plates to flash bulbs to color film and eventually digital, technology was either the result or the cause for some major changes in the history of photojournalism.

I also took note of the addition of women and minorities into the field, which in comparison to most other changes, only happened very recently. I thank my predecessors for paving the way for kids like me to get into this industry and stand toe to toe with male tradition. Even today, I’ll find myself covering a sporting event and find that I’m the only woman photojournalist on the field or court. (In full disclosure, I named the new laptop I bought for graduate school ‘Margaret’ in honor of Margaret Bourke-White.)

Speaking of Ms. Margaret, I learned something I did not know when reading Chapnick’s chapter on the photographic essay. I knew she was considered the first woman photojournalist, but I did not know that it is believed she published the first true photographic essay. Granted, the photos are not what Chapnick considers documentary by modern definitions, but still, it seems as though the intent was there.

I thought this chapter was going to be very much like Langton’s, recounting historical photographers whom have been studied to extreme lengths, but the last page or so held a nice surprise. While not exclusive or exhaustive, I really appreciate the list of attributes for a successful photographic essay or story. Not every story needs to have every one of these, but to see the basic tenets of storytelling in one place is nice. I may write this list out more simply and put it on my wall.

Chapnick ended with a statement that I think has a strange choice in words.

“The serious photojournalist cannot afford to ignore this photojournalistic format if he or she aspires to prominence through publication in either magazines or newspapers of the world or, in that most perfect vehicle for individual statements on larger issues, photographically oriented books.” (p. 38)

Yes, on one hand. But not all of us want to be ‘prominent.’ If my name doesn’t end up in a history chapter written by people like Langton or Chapnick, that’s fine by me. I just want to share and record life, with the hope that my photographs help others in ways otherwise unreachable.

Picture Story: Some of my likes.

9 years, 6 months ago classwork, grad school, photography, projects 0

Some of these may make it into the final story. Some may not. But I like them for what they are.





Picture Story: Introduction

9 years, 6 months ago classwork, photography, projects 0

day303 :: year four

Meet Sheila. She and I will be spending a lot of time together over the next few weeks as we get acquainted and I work on telling her story. It’s got all sorts of twists and turns, as every day she’s on the brink of losing her home. It’s a challenge, but I think a very worthy one. And she’s super nice, which always makes working on a project a pleasure.

I really look forward to exploring her world.

day304 :: year four

Backlog: A howlin’ good time

9 years, 6 months ago mi amigos, photography 0

day287 :: year four

We went to a Halloween party on the Saturday night before the holiday dressed as cowboys. Rebecca Wolfson (yes, that’s her real last name) took her costume to the next level, with a little help from a professional body painter.

The transformation was incredible.

Picture Story: Reflections from a dark room

9 years, 6 months ago blogging, grad school, photography 0
[picture coming soon]

I spent much of the last week hiding in the back of a dark room watching pictures go by and listening to someone announce “Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. In. Out. Out. Out.”

Yes, it was the best week in photojournalism at the University of Missouri – CPOY judging week.

We saw thousands of images in singles, stories, portfolios and multimedia presentations get voted out of the running to be considered the best of the best, with only about 1% of entries making it through to the second round of judging. A handful made it to the finals, winning awards of excellence and the coveted gold, silver, and bronze awards.

For Picture Story class, I made sure to sit in on the picture story category and an entire day of multimedia sessions. Each has to deal with the issue of storytelling in an effective manner, either through single images or a multimedia presentation. The two categories, while quite different in presentation and final product, have very similar requirements for what constitutes a winning project.

First, they both need to have a solid story. Moving, compelling, heartbreaking, joyful, and intimate were just a few of the words used to describe the stories which ultimately won in each catetgory. A project could have beautiful images, but if there is no story to support the photographs, the judges voted it out. I saw many stories in the first round that I would have voted in just on looks, but the judges saw past that and knew the story may not live up to the visual skill.

Alternatively, even when the imagery was not quite as technically adept as the other entries, a story went on to the next round if it moved the judges. I saw this in the final Multimedia category, in which there were three very polished video-based projects from the News21 program and one individual story “The Great Wide Open” about an adopted boy and his unique family situation. The adoption story was pointed out numerous times by the judges that it did not stand up to the same polished look as the other three stories, yet it won a bronze award because of the intimacy and unique storyline presented.

The judging of the categories was quite harsh, with the panel voting many entries out within only a few images, never quite reaching the end of the photographer’s edit. In picture story, I didn’t mind it so much. It was quite obvious whether or not a story was strong because we could see all the images presented as thumbnails together. Although we didn’t get the captions for all the stories, we could see if the visual story was strong.

However, in the multimedia judging, all I wanted was to see the second round selects in their entirety before voted into an awards round. The judges only watched maybe 30 seconds of the project until they got to the final rounds. While I agree that we should not have to watch the entire project due to time constraints, I think that there were a handful of projects that were voted out just because the intro was more than five seconds. One of the projects I really wanted to see in its entirety was “Growing up Girl”, which was voted into the first round of selects, but cut before the awards of excellence round. Although I agree that the beginning was a bit cheesy or TV-esque, I really wanted to see how the photographer took their winning photo story and turned it into a multimedia piece. There was so much that I thought could be expressed with audio and video and we didn’t get to see it because the judges were so caught up with the introduction.

What does this mean for the next generation of picture stories and multimedia pieces? I’m not sure. Every year is so different, yet so similar. It’s hard to know if your work will rise above the rest, because you can’t know what the rest will look like. I think that the most rewarding part of this competition is watching the work go by and listening to the judges make their remarks about the winning (and non-winning) work.

And hopefully, I’ll be able to use this new perspective in my work for the coming year. All I want is one ‘in.’ They’re worth more than gold.

Backlog: Homecoming

9 years, 7 months ago photography, politics 0


Best part of the Homecoming parade – Robin Carnahan almost taking me and my camera out while I was trying to take some fun photos of her marching and interacting with the crowd. Well, actually, I believe she ran the entire route. This is the result.

“Oh, hi!”