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Photo stories are easier to edit when they’re not yours.

10 years, 3 months ago grad school, photography, projects 0

day270 :: year three

Almost midnight, Monday.

This week’s (well, and last week’s too) project for Fundamentals was the classmate project. [cue scary music] We picked names out of a box for a round-robin style photo assignment, where I photographed someone, they photographed someone else, who was photographing someone else, and so on.

The goal?

Tell this person’s story. Whether it’s a literal ‘thing,’ like the significance of this one kid’s blue shoes, or a feeling, as with the adjusting period of some of our international students, we needed to convey the story in picures. It’s a lot harder than it seems.

My story was about Christie, a stretched-thin sophomore taking 19 credits and being active in a sorority and three other volunteer groups on campus. I wish I could have had another week to work on the project, but I lost that due to MPW. More situations in which to take photos may have brought a bit more variety to the images. But we learn from each assignment, and I hope to carry that across to the next big story project, our final.

Here’s my opening image.

day267 :: year three

Editing was tough. I knew I wanted certain photos, but filling in the holes was near impossible. I found myself attached to certain images, but tossing them aside for something that told the story clearer or was better technically. Eventually, I went back to the entire take and found some overlooked gems that ended up in the final edit.

But looking at my classmates’ projects, I could easily see what worked and what didn’t. I knew what I wanted to see to drive the story that the photographer didn’t necessarily have. This time, I was a bit more vocal in the critique, making sure to ask “what’s the story?” if it wasn’t inherently clear. Usually I’m on the quiet side, as our critiques are often much more lenient than I would be if left to my own devices. Today, I felt it appropriate to ask that simple question and make those critical observations. I hope my comments helped.

Maybe I am good at this editing thing. But only when the photos aren’t mine.

Too close. A little too close.

10 years, 4 months ago grad school, photography, projects 0

Grad school is slowly turning my brain into mush and re-organizing the compartments where the goo gets stored for easier access to the newly important information.

Or so it feels.

For my latest Fundamentals of Photojournalism project, I’ve been feeling a bit apprehensive about shooting. Not necessarily the act of taking photos, but in finding a good place to achieve the goal of the project.

See, I live near downtown, and everyone photographs downtown. I see these hippie-looking, homeless-looking denizens hanging around outside one of the coffee shops, and I think, “I really want to photograph them. I want to know why they are hanging around all the time. I want to know the toothless guy’s story. And the pregnant girl’s story. Why are they here.”

But, as shown in our first class critique, they get photographed and interviewed all the time. I don’t want to be typical. I don’t want to be where everyone else has been. (Even if their efforts have not produced the stories I want to hear.)

The rest of downtown has this same feel. There’s so many interesting spots and people, and I feel as though I’d be selling out if I completed an assignment there. But then again, if everyone has this feeling, then no stories will come from downtown. And that would be a shame.

So, today’s assignment took me all through downtown for a second time. I thought maybe if I took my bike down, I’d stumble across something interesting, maybe something no one else thought to cover before. Nope. Just apprehension about even walking into a situation to ask that tortuous question, “Can I take your picture?”

And then I remembered the animal rescue just a few blocks from my house.

Bingo! Something clicked as I walked up and I felt like myself again, able to put myself into the situation I needed for my project. The many volunteers were quite welcoming and let me hang around for about an hour or so. I got fantastic information, took a bunch of photos (some perfect for my project), and even heard some interesting ideas to possibly pursue for my final project.

Moments like these are rare. I need to remember that not every assignment will be easy to find, and not to give up until I get what I need. For every time I worry that maybe this project will fail, I need to get out and try again.

Because I can do this.

day242 :: year three