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Category Archives: At Work

The U.S. military in Afghanistan has changed the rules which members of the media must follow when embedded with a unit. The key change is in section 14:

14. Media will not be allowed to photograph or record video of U.S. personnel killed in action.

Thoughts?

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I have been a Joe McNally fan for … well, as for as long as I’ve known who he was. Which is a long, long time. And it’s not just because our sheepskins are stamped with the same bit of Latin (“Suos Cultores Scientia Coronat” – look it up). So the question then is, why?

Well, he’s a heck of a shooter–Life, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated. He’s a generalist, a visionary. But, more importantly, he’s a problem solver–something every one of us should aspire to. He’s also a photo geek of the highest level–he can out watt second ratio anyone I know over the cheese dip.

But he never lets that stuff get in the way of the photo–it’s always about the photo, even as he’s stringing up 10 or 20 or 30 Speedlights. So this blog post really speaks to who he is, and I love this little vignette:

Met a pretty confident, aggressive guy recently, while shooting this Geographic job that is currently turning me into an angst ridden pretzel. He went the equipment route immediately. No wonder. He had lots of turbocharged stuff, like, I don’t know, the Canon 3D Mark4S with the Eddie Bauer camo coating and the fast glass with the low rider flame decals. I was, you know, respectful, saying intelligent, pithy things, like “Whoah.” And, “Cool.” Maybe the occasional, “Yeah!”

It was an extensive recitation, to be sure. He flat out said he really had the gear down, knew how to work all of that stuff and that he could be a photog. Lock solid. Done deal. Shoots lots of pictures.  Then, he got thoughtful and said, “My big problem is content.”

You know how you’re smiling at someone and there’s that moment where your face just kinda gets fixed and slightly immobile, cause it doesn’t know what to do next? You keep smiling, but it feels like somebody just slapped on a quick facial mask, one of those gooey, crusty, pomagranate, blue green algae seaweed paste numbers? A glazing, if you will.

What do you say? In my head I’m screaming, like, “That’s a pretty big problem, dude!” But I think I mumbled something about just hanging in and working it.

Been there many times over the years. How many parents came up to me on the sidelines of some high school game and said they could send the paper photos if I couldn’t be at the next game … or wanting to know what kind of film I was shooting, because they thought that was their problem … or how they could have spent $5,000 on that big lens but, really, this blue-light-special, off brand lens is just as sharp … or, my favorite, that it’s nice I’m trying to break into the business, but I should really buy cameras that aren’t all brassed out, they don’t look very professional.

One of the things I’m most proud of here at the University of Georgia is our ability to supply every one of our students with gear. All of the intro students are issued a Canon Digital Rebel and Tamron 28-75 mm f/2.8 lens that they use for the entire semester. The upper level students get a kit built around a Canon 30D and three lenses. We also have a pretty decent pool of specialty gear they can tap into. We do this through a lot of begging and support from Canon.

But we do it because it eliminates both an economic and psychological barrier to taking–and succeeding–in the class. Any student who is eligible to take the class has the same ability to succeed as every other student. Same instruction, same gear.

So what separated out the A students from the C students? Passion. Desire. Commitment. An understanding that photojournalism isn’t about photography, it’s about content.

And that, as McNally says, is a pretty big problem.

Okay, so Kevin Martin has beaten me to the punch – he’s created a blog on the National Press Photographers Association’s site for students, including a couple of posts asking about what makes a good intern.

So, UGA student chapter – how are you going to top that?

Every now and then, Mindy McAdams, Flash Goddess, writes something that makes me want to go enroll at the University of Florida so I can take her classes.

Of course, then I realize that my University of Georgia colleagues would execute me on Grady College’s front lawn and my alma mater, the really cool (okay, mostly frozen) Syracuse University wouldn’t look kindly on me changing my shade of orange …

Regardless, I’ve been thinking about online or digital portfolios the last few months, how to incorporate their construction into my classes. (And I’ve done it this semester with one class, though they haven’t realized it yet). But reading Mindy’s post about building a personal brand has me really rolling over those scattered ideas of the last few months, trying to link them into something useful. Something I can hand to my students, in some form, and help them make their digital mark on the world.

And it has me wondering what my digital portfolio looks like now, as I write in about eight different places, Twitter over here, photo blog over there … is it time for all of it to come under one roof? Do I blend the academic, automotive and visual sides of my life into one giant smoothie? Can I preach something I haven’t practiced?

Ahh, it must be a Monday, because someone is writing about the Death of Photojournalism. It seemed for a few years that this headline popped up in the trade and mass market magazines about every six months. Now, it’s about every seven days.

Is my beloved photojournalism in trouble? Yes. Is it dead? No. Dying? Maybe – but it is eminently salvageable.

How? Simple: MAKE PICTURES THAT MATTER.

Michael Jackson’s funeral doesn’t matter. Four hundred pictures from the crisis du jour in some obscure country don’t matter.

What’s happening in your community matters. Don’t deceive yourself into believing you need to fly off to Obscuristan to sate your visual desires or, worse, further your career. There are stories right where you live that are in need of being told. Right now.

Go tell them.

To go with the last post, here’s a nice Craigslist ad posted by a (probably fictional) photographer looking for some help.

It’s a tough market out there – everyone has a tight budget, but, really, if you do this one at a discount, next time we’ll get you the right price … oh, how many times has the working creative heard that?

Thanks to Jon-Michael Sullivan for passing this along. And, to those of you hiring photographers, think about how silly you now sound …

This is the start of a new blog life – the University of Georgia’s Photojournalism program is on the move. 

While I don’t have any regularly scheduled summer classes, I am teaching a Maymester course centered on video journalism for the web. The students have been in the field for the last few weeks shooting and are now in-house, storyboarding and starting the editing process. A few scenes from today’s class …

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