Notes from the VisCom Classroom: The Documentary Attraction

For their midterm project, I asked my students in Advanced Photovisual Communications at the University of South Carolina to write about a photography exhibition currently at the Columbia Museum of Art. This exhibition, called “Seeing Ourselves: Masterpieces of American Photography,” contains 155 photographs from the George Eastman House Collection. The exhibition has five sections: “American Masterpieces,” “American Faces,” “America at War,” “America The Beautiful,” and “American Families.” Bringing this exhibition to Columbia, South Carolina, was a real coup for the art museum — this is world-class photography, in original prints rarely seen outside major metropolitan areas.

Photojournalism Is a Life of Research Papers

My favorite thing to do when I was in school was the field trip. I remember going to the fire station when I was in kindergarten and getting to sit on the firetruck and see the firemen go down the sliding pole.

Photojournalism on the Rise as an Art Form

Jodi Mailander Farrell of McClatchy Newspapers penned an interesting piece last month highlighting art galleries in New York that are showing off photojournalism. Farrell adds that sales of photojournalism are also on the rise, in part because the images are less expensive than other art forms:

Reboot Your Heart for Great Pictures

Here’s something that can benefit any photographer — professional or amateur.

That’s because it’s something that can happen to any photographer — professional or amateur.

You enjoy taking photos. You take good photos, even excellent ones that buyers are prepared to pay a lot of money for. But after a while, you find that you’re shooting the same kind of images in a similar style over and over again.

Solving the Mystery of the Headless Photograph

My wife Dorie was standing in line at a local drugstore and overheard a customer complain about his photos. He asked, “Why is their head chopped?” The clerk told him that the photo technician was off, but could help him tomorrow.

Are You Marketing Clones?

Is your scenic portfolio filled with sunsets, covered bridges, waterfalls, and hot air balloons? It may be no surprise to you that competing photographers have taken many of the same images. If a photo buyer broadcasts a call for a picture of a hot air balloon, he can expect to be bombarded; that’s why, when looking for a generic scenic, he has learned to go to a stock agency for those standard shots. In the industry, such images are called “clones.”

Don’t Be Satisfied with Just Showing Up

Many in today’s iGeneration have had a childhood of T-ball, soccer, and dance classes where if they just participated, they were given a trophy. I assume most people know there is more to life than showing up on time — but you’d be surprised how often meeting minimum standards will put you way ahead of the competition.

Can You Blink Your Way to Better Photography?

Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink starts by describing the story of a statue that one group of experts believed to be fake, but that another group, supported by scientific evidence, believed to be genuine. The first group, though relying on nothing more than instinct — what Gladwell calls “thin-slicing” — turned out to be right.

Five Tips for Getting the Best from a Model

The relationship between a photographer and a model can have its challenges — particularly when one or both are early in their careers. New models, for example, generally must work in front of the camera for a while before they become aware of their body, hands, lighting and facial expressions.

10 of the World’s Photography Firsts

What is the world’s first and oldest photograph? How about the first color photograph or the first photograph from space? Let’s take a look at these and more, in our first edition of “Photography Firsts.”

NCTJ Tackles Issue of Video Training for Photographers

The U.K.’s National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), which provides educational courses and materials to more than 40 of that nation’s journalism schools, is currently revising its photography programs to incorporate video and other skill sets.

Anatomy of a Sports Photography Assignment

Last month, I covered Boston College’s victory over Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Here are a few of my photos from the game, along with some thoughts on my approach to shooting the assignment.

First, when covering a football game, I like to stand behind the end zone so the team I’m focusing on is facing me. That way, I am already where they are trying to go.

As Newspapers Transition to Video, Will Quality Still Count?

[This is Part 2 of Blake's report; read Part 1 here.]

As photojournalists move to dovetail their traditional skill set with video applications, will quality suffer? This is the fundamental question tugging at photojournalists in newsrooms across the country.

Marketing Photography Like iPhones

Steve Chazin, a former Apple marketing executive, has put together an e-book containing five of what he calls the company’s marketing secrets. Actually, they’re more like five strategies that he’s seen Apple use and which he believes other businesses could benefit from using, too.

A Few Minutes with Photo Editors Scot Jahn and Michele Hadlow

Black Star Rising recently had the opportunity to ask two top photo editors — Scot Jahn, director of photography for U.S. News & World Report; and Michele Hadlow, photo director for Forbes Magazine — about some of the qualities they look for in photojournalism and freelance photographers. Here are some of their thoughts.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Remember When Photography Was Something Brand New?

When I asked my beginning photography students at the University of South Carolina to write a brief statement to go along with their self-portraits, I never imagined they would tap into many of the same currents that have been rippling through the photographic universe since the time of Daguerre and Fox Talbot. I was so excited to read their responses that I asked them for permission to reprint some quotations in this posting. Here, then, are some of the things my students in J337, Photovisual Communications, have to say about the joys and uses of photography.

Having Trouble Getting Getty Images to Sell Your Pics? Try the Scoopt Backdoor

If you’ve always wanted to have your photos marketed by Getty Images but haven’t been able to break in yet, here’s a great way to start: Submit your images to the citizen journalism site Scoopt.

In a recent interview with Black Star Rising, Hugh Pinney, Getty’s managing editor for news in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, acknowledged that “shrewd” freelance photographers have figured out that — in the wake of Getty’s acquisition of Scoopt earlier this year — Scoopt has provided an effective shortcut to Getty’s editorial site.

Who Calls the Shots on Your Shoots?

Photographers have less creative freedom today than they once did. In the days of what I call “unrehearsed photography,” photo editors respected the talent of shooters to produce quality images for their publications. No demanding art directors or so-called creative consultants looked over photographers’ shoulders to guide their inspiration.

10 Tips for Shooting Stock Photos That Make Art Directors Happy

Like most art directors, I have a love-hate relationship with stock photography. I love it when I find what I need; I hate it when I don’t.

The stigma of using stock is pretty much a thing of the past, and maybe you’ve decided shooting for any number of stock houses is something you’re going to try. Allow me to offer a few suggestions on what creatives look for when we head to Photodisc.com. Now, none of these are absolutes — rules set in stone being the last thing a creative wants — but having a general idea of the types of things we look for may help your work sell better.

In Mad Dash to Video, Newspapers Often Leave Training Behind

In recent weeks, Black Star Rising has interviewed photojournalists, editors, teachers and students on the subject of video — specifically, the steps newspapers and their photographers are taking to transition to a future in which video will play an increasing role. This is the first of two reports on what we’ve learned.

Learning to Say No

One of the first skills a photographer learns is how to focus a lens on a chosen subject. We look around our environment and see that there are endless things to photograph — but we know that to make a successful photograph, we have to choose a subject and focus on it, eliminating the unnecessary from the frame.

Scoopt Founder: “I Wouldn’t Like to Be a Local Newspaper Photographer Right Now”

More than two years after its founding, citizen journalism startup Scoopt hasn’t done much to disrupt the work lives of professional photographers — sales of its photos have been modest, and its much-hyped cameraphone images still represent only five percent of Scoopt’s inventory.

Getty Images and Jupitermedia Get Goosed by Lawsuit

Farmer Andrew Marsinko and his goose posed for a photograph to promote the State Fair of Virginia back in 1996. The photographer subsequently licensed the image to Jupitermedia, which licensed it to Getty Images, and in 2006 it wound up on a gag greeting card that Marsinko found offensive. The card’s joke:

Andreas Feininger’s Stockholm

The early work of photographer Andreas Feininger, who joined Black Star after fleeing Sweden during World War II, will be showcased in an exhibit that begins Saturday, Sept. 15, and runs through Nov. 7 at New York’s Scandinavia House. The exhibit features 51 of Feininger’s images of Stockholm, a city described in this way by the photographer:

To Break the Rules, You Must First Know the Rules

Finding Forrester is one of my favorite films. In the movie, William Forrester, played by Sean Connery, is a reclusive Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who never gave the world a second novel. Forrester befriends a 16-year-old inner-city basketball player named Jamal. Jamal, an aspiring writer, visits Forrester’s apartment to seek the author’s wisdom. In one scene, Forrester and Jamal have a lively discussion about rules of writing, such as “You shouldn’t start a sentence with ‘and’.” They talk about how breaking the rules can create a wonderful impact. If overdone, however, it also can have a devastating impact.