I grew up mostly on country music. Growing up was Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Brooks and Dunn. George Jones was one of the greats of country music. An article by Brian Mansfield for USA Today says “Hank Williams may have set country music’s mythology and Johnny Cash its attitude, but Jones gave the genre its ultimate voice.” I can’t help but appreciate what he gave to my favorite genre of music. I recently shot George Jones on his farewell tour. He played at Ball State on March 16 and I was quick to volunteer to shoot the show.
Since I started working at the Ball State Daily News, I really haven’t been shooting anything outside of my assignments. I know the importance of working on personal projects but it can be very difficult sometimes. Over my spring break it was nice to shoot for my own enjoyment.
On the last day of break, my parents and I decided to go see Oz The Great and Powerful. When we got home we saw a rainbow in front of my house and I rushed inside to grab my camera. We could see where it touched ground on both ends, and it was a double rainbow for a bit. I knew I wouldn’t be able to shoot it end to end because of the lens I was using, but I decided to go out and take some photos anyway. It was nice to be able to shoot without deadlines or the stress of gathering caption information.
As I was searching for a unique element for the photo, I noticed two doves sitting in a tree. I was able to position the rainbow behind one of them for the shot at the top of this post. They didn’t seem to be startled by me at all and I’m really glad they didn’t fly away.
When I chose a major in journalism, I knew that working in news wasn’t always going to be heartwarming. It can get pretty ugly and I think that’s been reaffirmed for me lately. Saturday night, I was getting ready to go out for the night when I found out about a fire in East Chicago that was beginning to damage a small recycling center. By the time I got there, the building was engulfed in flames. I know that three buildings were badly damaged, but I haven’t been able to shoot the extent of the damage.
When I shot another fire in Whiting in January, it was a little easier to shoot because the police lines were clearly marked, so I knew where I could shoot from. I also felt confident that the fire was contained, and it wasn’t as stressful as the East Chicago fire for me. This time, crowds of people were being pushed back by police officers every few minutes, I was being told to leave occasionally, and the owners of the damaged buildings were around. The black smoke could be seen from miles away and the fire seemed to be growing every moment. A few loud explosions sent fireballs high up into the air.
I saw people crying, talking about the buildings, and begging police officers to let them get things out of their cars that were very close to the fire. It’s not easy to watch and be around such events. Regardless, it’s my job to tell the story and that’s what I try to do.
I have a deep appreciation for theatre. I enjoy shooting the shows at Ball State and it’s truly been in adventure. I got to experience The Water Station directed by Drew Vidal at Ball State in Strother Theatre. The show was based on sixteen travelers who discover the water station and how they interact with it and with each other.
It was the first time I had ever seen a show without dialogue, and the first time I had ever watched a show with a slow tempo. The show was performed in slow motion. I think it is safe to say that the first characters entrance took about five minutes just to get to center stage in a black box theatre in the round.
I am not normally a patient person. Regardless, I was fascinated by the concept. I became hyper aware of the way I live my life in such a hurry. Everything around me is always moving so quickly. I also became very aware of the talent it takes for an actor to have the patience for a show like this. I’m really proud of the entire cast. I know that my struggles as an actor certainly include physicality; I can’t stand the thought of having no dialogue to lean on.
When I walked in, I was very surprised to see a mound of junk against the entire back wall of the theatre. The haze was very thick even before the rehearsal started. I got a sort of post-apocalyptic vibe from the set. Opposite the mound o
f junk, a broken water spout dripped at the same speed throughout the show. The monotony was only broken when the characters interacted with the water, giving the audience a break from the sound.
The fun thing about shooting this particular show is that I used a 50 mm lens that I don’t use very often. It’s not a lens that I’m comfortable using when the actors are up onstage, but it was fantastic to use when the actors were no more than ten feet from me at any given time. The lens doesn’t zoom so I had to rely on moving around and paying attention to get decent shots. I feel like I accomplished this without distracting the actors or upsetting the stage manager. Happy stage managers are always a plus.
The photos came out really well and I’ve decided to share then with you! It’s really fun to experiment with my different lenses and use them in situations I wouldn’t think to normally. I’m learning and improving everyday and it’s an amazing journey.
I spent the weekend at the Indiana News Photographers Association annual contest. At the contest, talented photographers are invited to judge entries in multiple photo categories. The INPA event takes place over two days near the beginning of each year. On Friday this year, the judges assigned winners in the college categories and gave presentations of their own work. Each presentation was inspiring and made me realize that there are many ways one can make a living in photography. You have to choose what you’re passionate about and find a way to make it work for you. On Saturday, they judged the regular entries. There were more than 2,000 images entered and it makes for a long but interesting day.
The judging itself is valuable to watch. You get to see what three established photographers consider good work and what they don’t. Some photos are thrown out immediately, while others are discussed and scrutinized in order to pick a winner for each category. It’s really wonderful to see what the judges are discussing, and to gain an understanding for what makes the photo good or bad. I learned a lot about the way I should edit my own images and I’ve gained a better understanding for what makes a solid photo.
I was really nervous about entering photos. Presenting your work to someone for the sole purpose of judging it is terrifying. I’m really happy that I did though. I learned so much while I was there. I’m going to push myself to enter more contests, while continuing to improve my work every day.
I’m happy to announce that the image at the top of this post took second place in the features category of the college contest. I’m really happy with the photo, and I’m glad to know that others believe it is good as well. I’m really excited for next years INPA contest!
I think one of my favorite things about being a photographer is being a fly on the wall in people’s lives or at certain events. My only problem is feeling like the biggest, loudest, most intrusive fly to ever exist. I understand that someone with a camera often makes people uneasy, especially in more tragic situations, and that knowledge tends to bother me while I’m shooting. There’s a balance between being a photojournalist and telling the story and understanding that you’re not what a person wants to see as they’re being loaded into an ambulance or watching their home burn to the ground.
A few weeks ago on a very cold night in Whiting, Indiana, I found myself standing at the police line of a building that had been in flames a few hours before. By the time I arrived, three fire trucks from the Hammond force, the Whiting force and the East Chicago force were all there taking care of the hot spots that were still popping up. Everything was covered in ice from the hoses. The street was dangerous and slick, the cars that sat at the side of the building were nearly encased, and the side of the building had become a shiny sheet of ice. I’d never shot anything like that before.
All of my work for the Ball State Daily News is of people, safe events, and sports. I don’t usually work in breaking news like accidents and fires. So, that night was full of mixed emotions. I was filled with adrenaline and excited to try my hand at photographing something a bit more difficult. I was extremely sad for the multiple families that lived in the complex. I was also ashamed for being there at all, feeling as though I was not welcome by anyone working to control the flames. I suppose I wasn’t. Feeling uncomfortable about making other people uncomfortable is something I’m battling as a photographer.
I also felt attachment to the building. I had seen it many times before. It was an old building and I found it beautiful. It had a dress shop downstairs that always had beautiful gowns on display that I would admire. It’s apart of my landscape back home and it will be missed.
My favorite photo from the night, featured at the top of this post, was a fleeting moment. I was actually shooting the firefighter only hoping for something that included the back of his helmet with the street sign and building in the background. I’m not entirely sure what made him turn around. Maybe it was me clicking away. Maybe he was surveying the crowd gathered around me. I guess I’ll never know. What I do know is that we were separated by a police line and as he walked away, I realized that I didn’t have his name. I’m going to consider it the top frustrating moment of 2013. I have plans to try and acquire his name, though. I’m going to go to the nearest fire station when I get home and ask if they can identify the firefighter in the photograph. I sincerely hope that they can.
Confession time. I accidently left my entire camera bag in the back of a stranger’s car during an all day shoot. I needed to shoot in two different locations, so I grabbed a ride with a volunteer who’d be going between them. The bag included all of my lenses, my wallet containing about $60 dollars cash, my debit card, and my license, and all of my other gear including an external flash and my extra battery. Ouch. Lesson learned. I can say that I will never do it again. Things I will also never do again include having two dead batteries, leaving for a shoot without a memory card, forgetting to clear a card before my next shoot, and taking a dead laptop out of my room to edit. You have to make mistakes to learn your lessons and I’m quite good at mistakes. I’m glad for these experiences because I’m much better at remembering to charge batteries, clear cards, charge my laptop and always grabbing my bag when exiting strangers cars.
In the last year, I’ve improved rather quickly and easily. I’ve learned more efficient ways to handle photos when I’m done shooting, how to shoot lightning and fireworks and to approach a variety of situations. I’ve developed an eye for light and I’ve gotten much better at quickly adjusting my camera for whatever I’m looking at.
I’ve discovered how important it is to be proficient in different aspects of journalism. I’ve learned how to capture quality audio, how to edit it, and how to add it to an effective slideshow. I’ve created audio stories that included an introduction, interviews and a wrap up of the story. I will begin a video class next semester in which I will learn how to shoot quality video and how to edit it. I’ve gotten experience in writing for the Daily News, and I hope to continue practicing journalistic writing.
I began volunteering as a photographer for the Daily News at the beginning of my first semester of college, and I will be hired on for the next half of the school year. I’m very excited to begin working at Ball State’s Newspaper. Everyone who works there has been incredibly supportive and it’s a fantastic place to practice my crafts and make mistakes.
I’ve developed a passion for creating really great captions. I like gathering the information and learning about people and events in the process. It’s fun to talk to people and understand them in the context of what I’m shooting. I’m glad that I enjoy something that is essential to my photos destined for the newspaper.
I’m very excited for 2013 and I’m very hopeful about the doors it will open for me. Everything seems to be going very well for me at this point and I have every reason to be very optimistic about the future! Here are my favorite photos from 2012, and I hope to have many more at the end of 2013!