Friday, July 03, 2015

Want to be a better photographer? Take Multimedia & Marketing Workshop

James Dockery saw this little boy on the steps as we went to buy some water at this corner convenience store in Bucharest, Romania. After asking his mother if he could take a photo I captured him and the boy. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1600, ƒ/7.1, 1/100]
Take on more responsibility than just taking the photos for your projects and this will improve your photography skills.

Today you can take on more responsibility with a project whereas in the past that just wasn’t possible. You can easily be in control of the entire project start to finish today due to the access we now have.

James Dockery works as a lead video editor for ESPN and also operates his own business in Charlotte, NC where he is photographer/ videographer. Here he is teaching the class about sliders and how they work. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1000, ƒ/4.5, 1/100]
Due to computers becoming less intimidating and easier to use barriers are now removed. Before the Internet you had to use print media, radio or TV to reach your audience. Most all of these mediums required you to gain the trust of those gatekeepers to use your content. To get their trust took a lot of time and you not only had to have outstanding work but they had to like you.

In the past you shot your images and handed these to someone like an editor, designer or publisher who would then take it from that point to reach the audience. Today you can find your audience and reach them literally with just a few clicks.

Workshop participant Liz Ortiz conducts an interview in a small village. This was her first interview and was having to work with a translator as well. [Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/500]
By creating your own personal project you can control the entire process. Today learning how to do this for yourself will improve your skills on any of these parts like photography. I know from editing a project it is rare that I don't realize I could have used more b-roll. Had I not been responsible for the entire project I would not be the one yelling at myself to do a better job.

Nothing beats you holding yourself accountable.

Pictures alone do not tell a story. All these years as a photojournalist the only way my photos really communicated fully the story was when accompanied by text or audio. If you wrote your own story, shot the photos and laid them out in a newspaper it didn’t take long for you to see the holes you left while covering a story. This would help you the next time to have a better checklist to be sure your story was even better than your last one.

Our last night in Bucharest, Romania the workshop participants and our hosts got together for a premier of the projects shot that week. While they are not the primary audience, they live there and see this first hand, they are the ones that will use these stories to help tell their mission supporters back home what they are doing. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/25]

Biggest mistake made today–forgetting your audience is not there.

We too often spend all our time with a subject and think this is our story. We need to take responsibility for the story connecting with the audience.

Why should the audience care? If you really know your audience you will not only be able to answer that question but also know how to engage them by the way your cover the story. If the audience are kindergartners versus working professionals they will have different interests in the take on the story.

Here is my advice. Take on a personal project that an audience will be interested in or should be interested in and do the story from start to finish.

Maybe help a local nonprofit tell their story and help them raise funds. The key here is not to just tell the story, but be sure it is put on the web or in some printed piece and gets to the audience. Then you need to measure the success of your story. Did you help them raise more money than they did last year without your help?

Keziah Khoo, workshop participant from Singapore, listens to James Dockery giving some editing tips in Adobe Premier Pro to help polish up her project. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ16, 1/50]
In telling the story you need to do it all. I recommend using multimedia. This is where you can interview the subject and capture them telling their story. Use great b-roll to support their comments. Then put this on the web. Be sure you are promoting it as you are producing it.

When you take a photo of the subject the first day, write a small paragraph and put it on social media. Tell people to stay tuned to see the full story.

This is example of a still image that you would write a small paragraph about the lady and her community. Then you would say stay tuned and look for the story on your blog or YouTube feed for example. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 900, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
After you have taken on a project in this way you will start to see really how all the pieces fit together. You will understand how to ask better questions in the future as to help you do your role better when you are just part of the team and not doing it solo.

If you are used to just taking pictures on a story will your photography suffer by doing it all? YES! However, will the project have more impact? YES!

I just got back from Romania where the workshop participants that I helped teach with James Dockery and Jeff Raymond for the first time for most of them did the entire project from start to finish.

Take a look here at what Jon Franz did with his story. I know Jon's work is helping because I didn't just "LIKE" the package I am "SHARING" it.

ABWE Rom Felix Oana Tomas 720p final from Jon Franz on Vimeo.

Does all this sound too intimidating? I recommend taking a multimedia workshop like the one I led in Bucharest, Romania and last year in Lisbon, Portugal.

More than 80% to 90% of the time you are in the workshop you producing the package. 10% to 20% is formal class time. James Dockery and I have discovered that getting people doing it hands on works better than lecture. We then come alongside you and advise. We found that each workshop participant is different.

This approach lets the workshop participants draw upon our years of experience.

I am working on two workshops right now for next year. One will be in Roswell, Georgia and one more in foreign country. These will be 5 to 6 day workshops.

You will be matched with a local nonprofit to create a powerful photo story about their mission. We will have lectures, hands-on instruction as well as business skills workshops throughout the week. We end with a public slideshow.

You will work directly with nonprofit staff and clients with end project designed to be a call to action for the audience. You will have 1-on-1, personalized editing for each student happening every day. Our lectures will contain some of our work with storytelling, teaching storyline, how to interview subjects, getting that all important b-roll and how to put it all together using Adobe Premier Pro.

If you are interested be sure to contact me, so I can put your on the mailing list for more details. 

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