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Monthly Archives: May 2007

Over on, there’s a handy – and simple – quasi-checklist of things to think about when heading towards the self-employed realm. It’s not an end-all, be-all kind of list, but it’ll get you started.


Flash Goddess (her preferred term, I believe) Mindy McAdams has been pondering how to teach visual literacy at the University of Florida. Those of us teaching in a word-heavy journalism program wrestle with this a lot – how do you break 14 years worth of training that says “we communicate with words” when, in fact, we communicate in lots of different ways? (She follows this up with a visual literacy in multimedia post, too.)

Go read the entries, and I’ll post the comment I made below …

I was talking with a friend about an internship opening at a paper he’d just left. (It was a good leave – he liked the paper but it was time for him to move on.)

He had become the lead multimedia guy mostly because his boss would give him a project and tell him to “figure it out.”

In my short time in academia, one of the things I keep running into is a fear of failure. Students do not want to experiment, to try something, because they believe the consequences of getting it wrong are absolute when, in fact, the consequences of not experimenting are absolute failure.

When it comes to “skills” classes (as opposed to .. well … I don’t know what), we need to find ways of encouraging students to play, to experiment. To make themselves uncomfortable and ensure there’s no punishment for trying something new.

Students won’t sketch because they’re taught form an early age that there is only one right answer to every question. We need to teach them to Fail Faster, then let it go and move on. has a nice audio slideshow on Michael Collier, an ariel landscape photographer.
The story that aired on Morning Edition has slightly different audio – including the reporter, Howard Berkes, talking about his air sickness patch. Both are worth a few minutes of your time.

You’ll notice the template has changed … while the black backgrounds made photos look good (generally), white-on-black gets hard to read after a while. Hopefully this’ll be a little easier on the eyes.

Of course, I suspect many of you aren’t actually here reading this as you’re using an RSS reader of some sort … right?

Also note over there in the right column a “twit this” button – if you’re on, you can now tell everyone exactly when – and what – you’re reading. (Hint: if you click it from the main page, it sends people to the main page. If you click on an entries headline first, then on the “twit this” button, you can show them exactly what you’re reading.)

There are time I miss shooting more than I can tell you, and it’s usually not the big stuff that I miss. Yeah, the championship games and neat places we get to go to are all cool, but it’s the simple stuff I miss.

Sadly, I never worked for a newspaper that had a real studio. Which is okay, because I probably didn’t really get my studio chops in order until I went back to grad school. But over on Strobist, there’s an entry on shooting snack foods and … well … it looks like it was fun.

Ever wondered how the New York Times does a fashion shoot? Check out this three minute video …

If you’ve sat through one of my classes, you know how paranoid I am. I show up early, I stay late, I have backup gear and escape plans. Need to transmit? I find two or three ways of doing that.

I’m like that.

On top of that, I never delete files. Not at home and, absolutely, never in the field. (Have I told you about the Marine sargent I once had as a student? The day after lecturing the class to never delete an image in the camera, he called me to ask … how to recover an image he deleted in the camera. So I made this gunnery sargent tell the class what he’d done.)

Anyway, this is a long way of getting to this blog entry about not deleting images by Chase Jarvis (which I found off of John Harrington’s blog). I hadn’t heard the Avedon story, but I like it.

Across the transom this morning came this …

I am a graduate student at UGA, and have an impending wedding on July 29th. Due to the budgetary constraints I face, I am unable to hire a professional photographer for the wedding. I talked to a few of my friends who went through Grady for their undergrad and they suggested that I contact you to see if you know of any students who would be willing to take pictures for us. We’re not able to offer a huge amount of money, but could spare around $200, plus plenty of food at the reception. If you know of any students who would be interested, please let them know about this offer. I can be reached at this email, or by phone.

Thank you, and I apologize if this email has proven to be an
inconvenience to you.

So I sat and let my blood pressure come back down to a less-than-apoplectic level and sent the following reply:

Most of my students are off on internships and jobs at this point so I don’t believe I’ll be able to help you out.

As an aside, I recommend you think very carefully about your budget – the photographs are the only things from your wedding that will exist beyond the end of the day. I am approached on a routine basis by people who are looking to spend whatever they can “spare” – and they are always disappointed in the end result. Anyone that you could hire for that price is, in all likeliness, not going to produce anything of value.

A “good” – not great, good – wedding photographer is going to need approximately $10,000 worth of equipment. If hired by couples at $200 a wedding, she’s looking at doing a years worth of weddings just to pay off the equipment (assuming she can book a wedding every Saturday).

Your email hasn’t be an inconvenience, but I hope you will re-evaluate your budget. A “good” wedding photographer will run you around $1500-2000 here in Athens, I suspect, for a basic package – a package you’ll have for the rest of your life.

Snotty, aren’t I?

But the point is this – your flowers will wilt, your food will be consumed. No one will remember the wise words of your pastor. The tux will be returned, the dress packed away.

And, for $200, you’ll have an out of focus, poorly lit, uncontrolled photo to hang in your hallway.

Where you’ll have to stare at it, every day, for the rest of your (married) life.

Think long term.

Though, in the age of Divorce Wizards, maybe you should spend more on your limo rental.

This got plugged on MacBreak Weekly (a great podcast looking at Mac issues) and it looks like it could be handy – Schoolhouse is a free (Mac-only) software program that will help you keep all your assignments lined up. You can keep all your notes together (including rich text format stuff), PDFs, other files, due dates and grades.

Looks pretty slick. Staying organized is one of the hardest things to do – this could help. I’m not sure how it can be used from the teaching side, but I’m going to start playing with it.

(Those coming into JOUR3710 pay attention here – your first few assignments will be on pictorials and all of this applies.)

Over at The Digital Photography School, there’s a great post talking about landscape photography. Not journalism, but some of the tips apply to seeing something we can all work on.

(Thanks to Brother Brian for the link.)