My Last Class Post

Today is my last blog post of Journalism 537. I hope to continue updating my blog as m photography professes, but at least for a little while this is the last post. I wanted to finish by giving an overview of what I’ve learned so far in this class. This class has honestly taught me so much about photography, I couldn’t possibly fit it all in one blog post, but for now I’ll just go over some of the main points.

1. What aperture and shutter speed are and how they relate. I know this sounds extremely basic, but since I never used a DSLR camera in my intro class, the idea of aperture and equivalent exposures was just an idea, that honestly didn’t make much sense in my mind. Now, aperture and shutter speed are second nature to me. I know what shutter speeds and apertures create equivalent exposures and I know in what situations to use a large and small aperture. Since these ideas are the basics of photography, you can never get more advanced in your work if you don’t understand this.

2. Being assertive. When on location I learned that in order to get your shot you need to be assertive. This was applicable during sports photography, event photography, and any kind of photojournalism. As a new photographer I have just as much of a right to be somewhere as any other photographer. I’m not a very naturally assertive person, but being forced into a situation where I had to be places I’ve never been and talk to people I don’t know taught me to be more personable and assertive.

3. Lenses. If you had asked me what the difference between a telephoto and wide angle lens were before I took this class, I would have had no idea. The numbers 25mm and 400mm had no difference to me. Now, I know how each lens affects the composition of the photo and which lenses are appropriate for each situation. I used to just take the standard lenses that came with the camera, but now I know that isn’t always the best option.

4. Flash. I used to think that flash and strobes were only used for shooting at night, but now I know that lighting can have profound affects on all photos.

I’ve learned so much in this class and I have learned more in this class than most of the other classes I have taken in my collegiate class so far.

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Garnet and Black Spring Game

These are some photos I took of Brock and Clayton at the Garnet and Black Spring Game this past Sunday. Along with these photographs, I got a lot of great ambient noises of the crowd cheering, whistles blowing, the band playing, etc. The great thing about photographing the boys during the game is that their positions are right next to each other on the field, which made it easier to get actions shots of them together! Brock is number 65 and Clayton is number 54 if you are looking for them in the photographs.

 

Photographing football was much harder than I expected though. I brought the 300 mm lens, which was the perfect lens length in this case. The 200 mm lens would have been too far away to see any people and the 400 mm lens would have been too close to catch any action. Football is difficult though because there are so many players on the field at one time, if you are focusing on photographing a specific player they are often blocked by other players. Clay and Brock, for example, play in the middle of the field, which means there are always other players to their right and left. No matter where I moved on the sidelines, I felt like I couldn’t get a good shot of just them. Another difficulty was how quickly everything moved. The center, Clayton in this case, would snap the ball and less than 10 seconds later the play would be over and you already missed the shot. You have to be aware of what’s happening at all time and have a basic grasp of how the game works or else you will not get the action shots you want.

Overall I had a great experience photographing the football game. I think some of the other photographers may have been confused when I would stay back to photograph Brock and Clayton rather than following the quarterback with the ball. What do you all think of the photographs? I would love to get any feedback you have! All of these photos are unedited; I wanted to wait until I knew exactly which photos I liked to tone them in Photoshop.

A Learning Experience

As you may know, I am currently in the process of doing a multimedia assignment for my final photography project. I am doing the assignment on Brock and Clayton Stadnik, twin brothers on the University of South Carolina football team. I have hit more than a few bumps in the road with the assignment due to NCAA regulations and the Athletic Department’s (over) protection of their athletes. I finally received permission to photograph the Stadnik brothers, with a few restrictions from the Athletic Department and Coach Spurrier. After doing my first shoot with the brothers, I think the assignment is going to turn out really well, but if you had asked me about it a week ago my answer would not have been the same (let’s just say I was freaking out a little, or a lot). This has honestly been a really great learning experience for me so far, and the next time I need to do an assignment like this I won’t make the same mistakes again. Here’s what I’ve learned about photographing high-profile people (so far):

1. Get permission in advance. I’m not talking a week in advance. I’m talking a month in advance. It took me 2 weeks and multiple phone calls and emails to get permission from the athletic department. Those are 2 weeks of my time that I could have spent on the project that instead I was sitting around waiting. In that time, I was able to find a new subject and schedule and initial meeting. I am happy that I will be able to photograph my original story idea, I just wish I had started earlier so that I wouldn’t be behind the rest of my classmates. 

2. Don’t wait around; be proactive. If you have a really really great story in mind that you are just dying to do, don’t sit around and wait for permission. Call, email, or go to the office of whoever you are wanting permission from and make sure they know who you are, what you want to do, and why you want to do it. It’s especially helpful if you can talk face-to-face with the person, it’s hard to say no to someone’s face than it is over email.

3. Don’t expect your subjects to know what to do. Just because you are photographing “high profile” subjects doesn’t mean they are going to automatically be comfortable in front of the camera. Brock and Clayton were painfully awkward when I was photographing them and had a tendency to pose or look at the camera. You are going to have to photograph your subject multiple times before they start to feel comfortable, no matter how well known they are or how much “modeling” experience they have.

I’m sure I’ll learn more as the assignment continues and add to the list so that hopefully you all won’t make the same mistakes as me either!

A Lesson in Lenses

Today I came across a really interesting blog post on Camille Styles about lenses! One thing I’ve really been trying to experiment with is different kinds of lenses. For the sports photography assignment I used a 300 mm lens (THAT was an experience, let me tell you) which was perfect for shooting the equestrian team. For the very first product assignment though, I made the mistake of checking out 24 mm and 50 mm lenses (wide angle lenses) which were not ideal for photographing a product for an editorial spread. If I had known then what I know now about how different lenses affect the look and feel of a photo, I could have been better prepared. A telephoto lens would have been better suited for photographing a product. Anything above an 85 mm lens would be considered telephoto, but for the situation I was in photographing the gold clubs I think I would have needed at least a 100 mm. When I was doing the shoot I was so focused on getting as close to the golf clubs as possible and was getting frustrated when I wasn’t capturing all the details I wanted, but what I didn’t know is I was getting frustrated because I was using the wrong lenses! The next time I am going out for shoot and am unsure of what lenses to bring, I will definitely reference this article!

Here’s a cool graphic from the article that I thought really showcased how different lenses affect the photo:

photographySchool_Lenses1

Planning for Creativity

Recently on Pinterest I came across the following image.

Image

 

At first glance, I thought it was an interesting graphic showing how art directors take a concept from a sketch to a scouting photo to the final shoot. Then I started to think about my recent photography projects and the planning that went into them. So far in this class we have focused on most candid-type pictures (sports assignment, event assignment, final multimedia assignment). Our portrait and product illustration were the only two assignments where we as the photographer controlled everything about the photo; wardrobe, lighting, location, etc. While I definitely did some pre-planning for both of these assignments, the idea of doing a scouting photo to test location and lighting never even occurred to me. Usually when I’m beginning a project I will go to the location I want to shoot at, take a few test shots of the subject, and continue from there. For the portrait assignment especially, scouting a location and doing a test-shoot before the actual photo shoot would have been highly beneficial for me as a photographer. Since I was photographing in a bar, the lighting was very tricky and I wasted a lot of not only my time but my model’s time by trying to figure out what settings would produce the best photos in that lighting. If I had gone to the bar and taken a few photographs the day before, I would have already known exactly what settings the camera needed to be on for each unique lighting situation. I could have also taken test shots to see how different wardrobe choices impacted the photo. I had my model wear a blue/green shirt, but would the photographs had looked better if he were wearing purple, red, yellow, or black? These are the kinds of decisions the director of photography needs to make in order to obtain the best photos.

Even for shooting candid photos, going out and scouting the location can only help the photographer. When doing my sports assignment, for example, if I had been able to go out to the course before the event I could have figured out where the best place to stand was, what angles worked best in the arena, and which lenses to bring on the day of the real shoot. Since I don’t yet have approval from the Athletic Department to shoot my final multimedia assignment, I can utilize this time to go out and take scouting photos of the locations I hope to photograph. This way, (hopefully) when I get permission I will already know exactly what my concept is and what settings (ISO, exposure compensation, flash compensation, aperture, etc.) will produce the best quality photos.

As Benjamin Franklin once said,  “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

2014 Craftsmen’s Classic™ Arts Craft Festival- Columbia, SC

The Craftsmen’s Classic™ Arts Craft Festival was founded 39 years ago by Clyde Gilmore, a jewelry maker out of Greensboro, North Carolina who wanted to create a “family” of craftsmen from all over the nation who could come together and showcase their work. Today there are 10 Craftsmen’s Classics held annually throughout the year. The Craftsmen’s Classic has been consistently voted as on the top 100 shows in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine, a “Top 5” in South Carolina, and a 2014 Southeastern Tourism Society’s “Top 20 Event”. From March 7-9, 2014 the Craftsmen’s Classic was held at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia, SC. The festival included blown glass, clothing, fine art, jewelry, specialty food, musical instruments, and more!

 

Multimedia Ideas

Today, I was researching ideas for our final multimedia projects. I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of someone I know who would be an interesting subject or make an interesting story. I decided to get some inspiration from the professionals and began looking at photo galleries online. I soon realized that none of my original ideas were anywhere remotely close to being as interesting and emotional as what these professionals get to experience through their work.

There was one gallery that was especially intriguing to me. Inside Pelican Bay State Prison by Jeremiah Bogert is a photo gallery from the LA Times that gives viewers an inside look into the Secure Housing Unit  at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California. I think prisons, jails, criminals, and court cases always make such interesting stories because they are people and places the average person will never experience in their lifetime. These stories of murders, mobsters, and rapists are so publicized and sensationalized in today’s society that everyone wants to get a part in the action. Most people will never get the chance to walk down the halls of a high-security prison and talk with the inmates, but as a photographer Jeremiah Bogert did. 

While browsing through the gallery, I imagined what the photographs would look like as a multimedia project. I imagined the photos being displayed as interviews with inmates played in the background. The images themselves are very moving, and the fact that all the images are in black and white really intensifies the emotions and seriousness of the prison. As the images flipped from photos of gang tattoos to jail weapons to the dingy cells, prisoners could give their testimonials in the background: how they ended up in prison, what the conditions in prison are like, how long they will be there, etc. Hearing first hand from the inmates themselves is much more powerful than reading a transcribed copy of the interview.

As a photographer, you are given the opportunity to travel to amazing places, meet the most interesting people, and share their stories with others. Photography connects people: it connected a girl from Charlottesville, Va with an inmate in Crescent City, Ca. I got to see their story and witness their struggle. When we share these stories, we being to see these inmates as real people, rather than just criminals. It’s the same when we see images of civilians being affected by our wars overseas or the children who are starving to death every day in Africa. When we see them and hear their story, they are no longer a faceless, anonymous person but a real human being.

Of course as a student, I would not be given the opportunity to photograph a prison and interview the inmates. I could, however, do a project about homelessness in Columbia; visit homeless shelters, find out where they stay, and learn their stories. Homelessness is something that everyone in Columbia can relate too, because we witness it in some way almost every day. I’m not sure if that’s exactly the idea I want to go with, but it’s an idea!