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.
I can remember so much from these trips because I could see what I was learning about. Sometimes I even got to sample things — like a hot dog in a meat-packing plant.
As a photographer/photojournalist, I get up each day and go on a new field trip. Each time I learn something new. The excitement I feel while on these adventures is what I hope to capture with the camera. I need to take the readers of publications to places they may never go in their lifetimes, but can experience through photographs to expand their world.
As a photographer you must tune in with your ears and eyes. You must try to understand as much as you can and then capture those things which help not just document what you saw, but grab the excitement you felt when learning about the place.
Assignments also can be a little overwhelming — like trying to write a term paper the day before it is due. In these cases, it helps to have some knowledge of the subject before you arrive. If you have done research in advance, you will be able to use the experience as icing on the cake and not the cake itself.
Doing research before every assignment is not always possible, and this is why it helps to find your niche or expertise. Formal education in a subject can be one of the ways to become an expert.
I studied social work to understand people better. I later did my master’s in communication at a seminary, which helped me in working with people of faith. Another subject I have devoted a lot of time to is sports and, specifically, basketball. I enjoy playing basketball, and this gives me insights into the game that as a spectator alone I would probably not appreciate as much.
In school, we all did research papers. For me, learning to do papers on my hobbies or interests was what made it enjoyable — and also made for a better paper.
This is true for photographers, too. After you have mastered a subject, transfer your skills to a new topic and in time you will have diversified your clientele and turned your passion into a career.
[tags]Stanley Leary, photojournalism[/tags]