Thursday, May 31, 2007

So You Want to be a Freelancer

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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Visual Literacy

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.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


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.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Light(ing) Snacks

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.

Friday, May 25, 2007

NYT Fashion Shoot

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

Don't Delete - So Says Avedon. Sort Of.

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.

Oh, the Email I Get

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.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Schoolhouse - Homework Managing Software

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.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

11 Tips for Landscape Photography

(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.)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Job Opp is looking for an interactive designer and a developer.

For those living in a cave, Brian Storm is one of THOSE REALLY BIG PEOPLE in the industry. His company has produced some of the most amazing pieces over the last few years, and he speaks at conferences seemingly constantly. MediaStorm packages are not about technology, they're about great storytelling.

If I knew how to do any of the things they wanted ...

ACK - The Duck's Gone Video!

Aaron Johnson (no relation) has created a video to go with his What the Duck comic. The man is, in a word, brilliant.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Useful Web Sites for Journalists**

Former student Chuck Thomson sent this along - a web page with links to all kinds of sources of online information. Everything from government records to vehicle identification number records, all linked from one handy place. Bookmark the page, it'll be useful at some point.

** And this post marks the 100th entry since the UGA Photojournalism Blog started in early March. In case you were keeping track ...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

NPPA Region 6 Regional Director's Tour

Bob Carey, the new R6 Regional Director for the National Press Photographers Association, will be in Atlanta on Monday, May 14 for a chat session. He's touring the region to see what members want and/or need out of the NPPA.

Monday, May 14 1-4 pm
Professional Photo Resources
667 11th St, NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
in the rental studio

Monday, May 7, 2007

Annie Leibovitz at Atlanta's High Museum

The High Museum in Atlanta has a special event for the opening of Annie Leibovitz's new show, "Celebrating a Photographer's Life," this Friday, May 11. Tickets are only $250 ...

Or maybe you just want to go see the 175 photos that are on exhibit from May 12 through September 9. I know I do.

Another. Altered. Photo.

Sean Elliot, NPPA Secretary, chief photographer and all-around good guy, pointed this out to me today - the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun "accidentally" moved an altered image to the Associated Press last week.

The unaltered image ran in the paper on Saturday. According to Executive Editor Jim Gouvellis, the photographer noticed the altered image had been sent while she was making a reprint for a customer. To quote the NPPA story:

Gouvellis said the cleaned-up file that was made for the resale print was never intended to go to AP or anywhere else, that it was to be used only for a customer who was purchasing a print.


Here comes the rant ...

If we're going to do journalism and say the photo is accurate, then it needs to stay accurate in ALL of its forms. Doctoring images for reprints is not right. The same ethical standards we apply to the printed images needs to be applied to the web and everywhere else.

Mr. Elliot asked in his email to me if we need to ban the clone tool altogether. And while it has moments of usefulness - such as cleaning up dust spots - maybe it's time editors start lobbying Adobe for a "journalism safe" version of Photoshop since we can't seem to police ourselves.

To give credit where credit is due, it was the photographer, Sarah Coward, who notified her editors and the AP.

But, again - why was anyone altering a NEWS PHOTO? All the public will remember from this instance was someone at the Charlotte Sun digitally altered an image. The fact that it never made it into print is irrelevant, the paper - and our industry - is tainted by this event, further eroding our credibility.

UPDATE: Thanks to commentor Christian for pointing out I had the wrong state above. Now fixed. - and Working for Free, a new blog for "freelancers of all varieties - designers, writers, programmers, illustrators, photographers ...", has opened shop and has a great post on when it's okay to work for free.

Maybe "Spiderman 3" Can Save the Freelance World

John Harrington has been serving the industry well the last few years with constant talks at conferences about the business of photography. Now, he takes on movie reviews will a similar bent - his review of the new Spiderman film might help editors and, more appropriately, publishers understand why work-for-hire and lowest cost isn't the way to go.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Apple Insomnia Photofest

So far, I've heard from one student who entered the Apple Insomnia Photo Festival competition - so, go vote for Danielle Hutlas' image.

(And if there are more of you, let me know and I'll plug your work, too.)

Is Complicit in Lying to its Readers?

This just, well, stunned me.

On the front page of this morning is a story about the tornadoes that tore through Kansas last night. And quoted, on the front page and in the third graf of the story, is an "Allan Detrich." Is this the disgraced former Toledo Blade photographer? The one who lied to his editors, his blog readers and to hundreds of thousands of newspaper readers? THAT Detrich said he was leaving journalism to pursue a new opportunity chasing storms.

CNN's reporters couldn't be that far out of the loop, could they?

Friday, May 4, 2007

Start Small, but Start Now

Mindy McAdams, the Goddess of Online Journalism (she probably won't like that ...), has a post up today about a graduating student who came seeking advice. Her problem: she wants to be an independent video journalist but has no web skills. Mindy recommends building a simple blog and getting content up on it, not worrying about a fancy web site.

The idea is to get to work on content and to not waste time on learning new skills. She wants to be a video journalist, so she needs to do that. Students everywhere should take that advice - the only way to get better at what you're doing is to do more of it. Start small, but start now.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Geek Alert - Lego Cameras

Lindy Dugger found a web site that explains how to build a medium format camera out of Legos. Or how to build a 35 mm camera, again out of Legos, if you want a more, er, compact camera ...

Where can I find black legos?

Flickr Photo Sales

Photo District News has a short piece on the rise of Flickr as a stock photography site. Though the terms of service prohibit using Flick to market products, lots of folks are getting found and, the smart ones, are making some money.

Portrait Tricks

So, People magazine has a cover story on the most beautiful people (erp), now photographed without make-up or retouching (eck). (Okay, I have NO idea why I'm writing about this, but breakfast is gurgling a bit, so you know.)

And I really COULDN'T CARE LESS. But PopPhoto has posted a short piece on how to photograph people and make them look good with no "tricks." Well, almost none ... seems to me a soft focus filter is a trick.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

No Photojournalism Here, But It's Pretty Cool

Monkeehub presents the Torchlight Gallery. It's a weird interface ... but, man, is it cool ...

"Get busy living, or get busy dying"

The quote is from "The Shawshank Redemption," and it shows up in a post by Orlando Sentinel journalist Matt Waite where he talks about training for the new world.

(This post sourced from Mindy McAdams, where else?)

Lighting 102 - An Online Lighting Workshop

David over at Strobist has announced their second online lighting workshop, which will start June 4. Partnering the blog and Flickr groups, you'll be able to follow along and work on your lighting techniques, post them to Flickr and see how other people handle the assignments.

Not familiar with Strobist? Go poke around - their moto is "Less Gear. More Brain. Better Light."

100 Good Things

Chip Litherland, from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, has put together a list of the 100 things that are completely right with photojournalism jobs.