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Category Archives: Learning

Now there’s one fewer reason to screw up a state abbreviation – the Associated Press Stylebook is now available as an iPhone app. (Which has the Apple fan in me thinking iPhones should be required of all our students … hmmm.)


The Investigative Reporters and Editors group has a neat workshop planned around the idea of looking at data about your college or university. It runs in early January in Arizona, and there are scholarships available. Worth looking into – you could find sources for great visuals there.

Find a comfy chair with a good WiFi signal and stock up on snacks–you’ve got about 90 minutes until the National Press Photographers Association’s Virtual Video Workshop starts up.

Lined up for the day:

  • 10:30 a.m., Darren Durlach, WBFF-TV in Baltimore, NPPA’s 2009 Ernie Crisp Television News Photographer of the Year, “Six Essential Skills To Maximize Your Storytelling Process”
  • 11:45 a.m., Boyd Huppert, KARE in Minneapolis, a three-time winner of the NPPA Special Award for Reporting, “Storytelling in The Moment”
  • 1 p.m., Greg T. Johnson, WFAA-TV in Dallas, NPPA’s 2009 Video Editor of the Year, “Seven Daily Habits of Highly Effective Editing”
  • 2:15 p.m., Pierre Kattar,, Emmy Award-winning video producer, “Let’s Dance–Finding The Right Voice and Approach For Your Stories”

If you REGISTER NOW, you get a great rate–$35 for student members, $45 for members, $55 for everyone else. AND–even if you can’t watch it live, you get access to the archived versions. If you register later, you can still see the archived sessions but it’ll cost you more.

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?

Okay, I admit I haven’t read this as a whole, but I read all of the pieces as Mindy McAdams, Flash Goddess, posted them over the last year or so. She’s now compiled a 42 page PDF of her advice on stepping up your online journalism game. Given the thoroughness and inventiveness of her past work, this is a Must Read.

And it’s FREE. Yes, all that knowledge, FOR FREE. Because she cares about journalism, that’s why.

Our good friends at Canon sent along a note about their Live Learning Workshops which will be in Atlanta on October 3 and 4 this year, dealing with sessions on HD Video Basics, EOS Speedlite Creativity, and Nature/Landscapes. They’ve offered a $40 discount to UGA students for this, so give it some thought. Several of the instructors are top-notch folks, well worth getting access to them if you can swing it.

Email me for the online discount code.

I try to keep this about photojournalism/visual journalism/multimedia journalism and, occasionally, a bit of humor. If you’ve sat in my classroom, though, you know I’m concerned about journalism in general and journalism education at a pretty high level. To say I’ve bruised my brain while beating my head against a brick wall from time to time would be an understatement – let’s be honest, at some level my brain has the consistency of a blackberry smoothie.

So I’m on another committee, talking about curriculum review. This one’s different, but the details don’t matter yet – they’ll matter if it works. And I came across this Poynter Institute post by Ernest Wilson, who’s the dean of the journalism school at USC – and it says almost everything I want to say. So you should go read it, then give me specifics. I know we have to change, but change what?

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?

A little video that tells us … well, a lot of what we already know. It does reinforce what we should be doing, though, which is handy.

I do wish it listed some ideas on things to try … it’s like you’re doctor telling you to exercise more. Um, okay … but where should I start?

A Case for Innovation from CoPress on Vimeo.