Friday, December 14, 2012

From one photojournalist student to another

Challenging would be how I described my introduction to photojournalism class. During the semester, I was pushed to view the world differently from my side of the lens. I was no longer looking to create beautiful images; I was there to capture the truth. In many cases, such as our report on arson, the truth can be ugly. Throughout the course I was asked to cover events such as the basketball game that required me to change my shooting style.  To properly cover the event I had to use higher ISO and wider apertures than I was accustom to in my previous work. However, the knowledge acquired from these challenges has made me a stronger photographer.
The photojournalism class at Owens moves at a fast pace. My advice to future students; plan your time wisely. It’s easy to fall behind and hard to catch up. 

Owens' Health Technology holds their yearly open house

The new fitness equipment at the remodeled Alumni Hall, Toledo campus

Julie Bellestri second year student scans first year student Whitney Hurtzfeld

    For my final project I created a sound slide presentation covering Owens’ Health Technologies department’s open house. As I shot I was able to listen to both students already enrolled in the programs and instructors as they talked to incoming student and those still considering their options. 

A massage table in the Massage Therapy program clinic
    The challenge to this assignment for me was selecting a person to interview for the video. There were so many programs I did not want anyone to feel left out. I at last settled on Dr. Mead, who is the dean over the Health Technology department. 

    For my first attempt I was happy with my outcome. I look forward to posting other sound slides in the future.

Photojournalism and cell phone photography go hand in hand

New artwork on display in the courtyard of the Performing Arts building
on the Toledo campus of Owens Community College.

As students, one thing that our instructors as well as the professional photographers we have met have tried to teach us: “the best camera to use is the one you have on you”. There are many times when I do not have my DSLR camera with me. I do however have my cell phone, with its built in camera with me at all always.
          As a photojournalist this mobility is useful when there is a need to capture an image right here and now. Some of the examples I have seen used were of fires and car accidents.
Two views of the flowers along the Old West End at daybreak.
          Professional photographer Scott Hall expressed; often he prefers to use his cell phone camera because it allows him to blend in. “People don’t pay attention to me when I use my phone. I’m just another guy taking a cell phone picture. The minute I pull out my camera people start to take notice.”

The Christmas tree in the Winter Garden inside the downtown library  Toledo, Ohio
 Cell phone cameras have increased the ability of photojournalist such as myself, to capture key moments and share them with the public. 

Burning in the Glass City

The burnt remains of an arson fire on South Ave in Toledo
          The fact is Toledo Has a growing problem with arson crimes. As a class we decided that this was a topic we wanted to explore. In doing research for our class project, we discovered that according to the numbers collected by the FBI, Toledo is ranked fourth in the nation for arson. After talking with the Toledo Fire Department and explaining our project we were given a list of address of arson sites.
          As we canvased the neighborhoods we found some of the homes were completely destroyed, whereas others were still standing. There was one thing each of these sites had in common. At every location that we visited, the arson fire caused damage to a neighboring home.
          Arson not only affects the owner of the property, it is a crime that affects the whole neighborhood.

Another site of arson on Kenilworth street in central Toledo. 

*the sound slide portion of our project can be viewed on Rust Wire
     Burned: the rust belt on fire
A photo story by the intro to photojournalism class at Owens CC

Arson is the leading cause of fires in the United States, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.  Of these fires, 30 percent are in structures, including homes. Fire officials estimate that 50 percent of all fires may be intentionally set, yet it is difficult to determine the actual number of arson fires because a good number of them go unreported.
            The FBI estimates that four out of the top 10 cities in the United States for arson crimes reported are in Ohio. The fourth spot on the list is right here in Toledo.  The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal reported that the six common motives for arson are:
Another view of the distruction left behind at the site of the arson fire
on South ave. Toledo, Ohio
  • ·         Excitement
  • ·         Vandalism
  • ·         Crime Concealment
  • ·         Revenge
  • ·         Extremist/Terrorist
  • ·         Profit

The Introduction to Photojournalism class at Owens Community College visited some of the sites of arson fires in the Central Toledo area.
Why should we care about arson and its impact on the rust belt? Arson is a felony crime. It is a crime against people and every year firefighters are killed in responding to open-air fires. Then there is the cost of the fires. Firefighters must be paid, the cost of supplies to fight the fires, the value of the property destroyed and the loss of tax revenue are all things to be considered.
In spite of the numbers and the fact that arson is a crime, the real reason we should care about the growing problem of arson in the rust belt is the fact that while firefighters are away battling a needless fire, they can not be there should a real emergency arise. The cost of arson is more than money it is putting lives at risk.

Learning the history of photojournalism

                In my study of the history of photojournalism I discovered that in the 1870's photographs were not being used in a print form in newspapers. What were being used were drawings inspired by photographs. A photographer would take a photo, develop it and hand it over to an artist. The artist would then sketch what he saw in the photograph, taking away items or adding to the picture as he saw fit. It was not until 1891 that photo started to appear using a machine called the halftone press. Still many publications were slow to incorporate photos. Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, is said to have commented that any wide spread use of pictures would lower the papers dignity (according to our textbook Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach, sixth edition).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Coming to an end: A semester in review

A horse drawn carriage strolls through downtown Cincinnati, OH.
The red carpet tent at Epic Rocks.
A portion of a water fountain at Fountain Square in Ciincinnati.
 I have been lucky and honored to have taken part in numerous photography related events this semester. Events that have not just inspired and helped me grow as a photographer and a person, but have strengthened bonds with fellow students and instructors, as well as created new friendships.
  •  The Epic Fashion Show: an event to raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. As well as a chance to celebrate local survivors of the disease.
  • Owens’ Halloween Alternative: Owens giving the public a safe environment to celebrate Halloween. Being one of the student photographers from Owens’ Photo Club at the event I was able to see the smiles on the faces of the children and parents as we presented them with a photo to remember that night.
  •  SPE conference in Cincinnati, OH: It was moving and inspirational to hear of experiences and view work from other photographers there that are so passionate about their craft. SPE also offered an opportunity to watch vendors showcase the latest tools, equipment and technology on the market.
  •  PPNO Saturday workshop: “three different approaches to getting the right lighting” and “creating quick and easy webpages using Wordpress”
  • A day of shooting with Scott Hall: 11 photographers, on a Sunday in mid-October, both students and professionals (members of PPNO), exploring the back roads and into Temperance, MI. As we discovered locations Scott Hall found interesting we pulled over to the side of the road, pulled out our cameras and captured the moment.
  •  Owens’ Raising Awareness Club’s annual Father/Daughter dance. This was the first year the Photo Club provided a photo booth and captured candid moments of the two night event for those in attendance. 
  • Help Portrait Toledo: This is the fourth year Help Portrait Toledo has brought together local photographers and volunteers, to give something back to the community.   
     Not only have these events strengthened my skills as a photographer but they have also shown me the importance of giving back to the community and re-affirm the belief that photography has the strength and ability to change a persons life. 
Vanessa Farris holds her daughter Journie as they make their way through the lines at the Halloween Alternative. 
Families make their way from station to station at the Owens Halloween event.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Owens men snap, crackle and pop Kellogg Community College

Kellogg forward Darius Holman passes the ball down the court as he is guarded by Owens Justin Edmonds(left) and Tony Boykins.
Fans relax in the stands during a time out.
   Owens forward James Kelly quickly broke away from the pack and charged down the court to score the first basket of the night just seconds after the tipoff.
       Owens men, directed by Coach Clarke, took lead early on and at halftime Owens dominated over Kellogg with a 20 point lead. By the time the dust settled Owens had handed Kellogg a loss. The final score Owens 88, Kellogg 69.
        As fans of basketball know, it is an extremely fast-paced game. Looking back, I wonder if I was too overconfident. When given the instructions for shooting sports, it seemed like an easy task. However, as the night progressed I was reminded that nothing in photojournalism is as easy as it first seems.
       Some difficulties I encountered that night were:
  •  keeping track of which player had control of the ball;
  • knowing when to take my focus off the court to capture the reactions of the coach or the fans;
  • and choosing which moments to capture and which to let go.
       I also look forward to strengthening the skill of panning, as well as capturing that defining moment.  
       At the end of the game I noticed one of visiting players lost in thought, in almost disbelief at the final score. I took the photo but I felt as if I was invading a personal moment which was not for the world to see.
       While this is my first adventure in the world of sports photography, it has sparked a new interest and challenge for me.
Owens' Markese Allen and Kellogg's Nathan Taylor scramble to gain control of a wild ball.

Head Coach Dave Clarke reminds the team to stay focused