The world of still photography as we know it is growing and developing as technological innovations continues to take off. With more definitions than ever of what could be considered a camera and an image, our collective understanding of photography is limited only by our imagination.

Through New Media Photography, I have experimented with DSLRs, iPhones and Drones. I have created photos, videos and stories. I have edited those creations on software systems such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Premiere Pro. I have explored topics relating to virtual realty and mobile photography. I have tested a pilot program for The Weather Channel. I have grown more aware of opportunities to make my visual stories stronger.

As you look through my portfolio, you will find samples of my work I have completed during this class.

The first is a comprehensive look at ethics in virtual reality. As I began to explore virtual reality, I realized, as with an novel venture, there is a world of gray area. While some subjects must be considered through a certain level of trial and error, I thought it was important that the implications behind the technology be considered. In review of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics and through analysis of existing virtual reality films, I created a list of best practices to follow and understand when working with virtual reality.

You will also find a collection of tweets I combined into a Storify. These reference photography and photojournalism in different aspects and reveal my thoughts and opinions on certain matters.

Included after that is a video I found, shot, reported, edited and produced on remote location. I had the opportunity to attend a campaign rally for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Capturing the sounds and sights of the venue helped bring my story to life. The challenge was balancing the noise of the inside auditorium and dim lighting.

I am grateful for the experiences I took away from New Media Photography. Please feel free to peruse the rest of my work on this blog and my website.

New Media Photography: Fourth Reflection

The past few weeks in New Media Photography have been the most enjoyable and diverse yet and excite me for what is yet to come.

I took my first trip to The Weather Channel. I have driven past the building for years, but that was my first time stepping inside. I had not realized what a large media organization it is and how fortunate I am to have it in my own backyard. What was really impressive was the amount of time employees took to listen to students and work with us to make us ideal candidates for positions not only within the company but in media at large.

I particularly enjoyed the tour of the building, including the virtual space where filming is done. Seeing the three-dimensional virtual cones projected to appear like tornadoes made me think of other possibilities it could be used for. For example, Stephen shared how CNN used it during election results. I also liked the options for customization.

Finally, I enjoyed the job-related skills session and the one-on-one resume critique. The biggest lesson I took away was that I have the power to control anything I want. If I want to be a filmmaker, I can start entering amateur videos into film festivals and showcasing my productions in contests now. Not only do I not have to wait, but I shouldn’t wait. Employers are impressed by initiative. It inspired me to start writing more. Nothing is handed to you so you have to work to stand out. I also took to heart his comments about tailoring my resume. It should tell a story and he said mine was too all over the place.

In addition to The Weather Channel, I also enjoyed working on my New Media Study. I watched various virtual reality films to come up with a few best practices. Ethics are really important to me and I’m glad I was able to find the intersection of work.

New Media Photography: Third Reflection

As with any educational experience with skills-based lessons, the best measure and greatest revealer of what has been retained and what is still yet to learn come through doing. As I begin researching and synthesizing information for my new media study in virtual reality, I also realize that New Media Photography gives me a foundation for which to explore. By exposing me to a few tools and techniques I can build upon, the class trains me to think large.

All this is to say, I have not come by my new media project easily. Certain, obvious challenges present themselves when working in such a novel and newly ventured space. Many of the articles I am reading are speculative. Since virtual reality has not been widely adopted or commonly used by newsrooms, practical understanding and application are difficult to come by. Moreover, beta testing in a research lab does not necessarily easily translate to practice by working journalists nor to a quality experience by a user, reader, viewer or news consumer. This additionally means that certain rules, procedures and ethics have to be self-imposed and formulated based on previous similar technology if not simply intuition.

I look forward to our upcoming trip to The Weather Channel. If any platform, if any newsroom, if any subject matter lends itself strongest to virtual, augmented or mixed reality, it’s The Weather Channel. Who has not secretly wished to experience the feeling of being inside a tornado or at the eye of a hurricane without knowing that it almost certainly guarantees the end of his or her existence? But furthermore, dramatic weather events can displace families and individuals temporarily and sometimes permanently. A virtual reality experience can help increase the greater understanding of the severity of severe weather events. The Weather Channel, I'm sure, would be a great research outlet for this subject. 

New Media Photography: Second Reflection

These past few weeks have allowed me to explore new media photography through — excuse the pun — lenses.

One of the larger subjects of photography is weather, whether its chasing storms, capturing snow fall or shooting the night sky. While I was not able to attend the original visit to The Weather Channel, whenever Stephen comes to our class to speak, I am eager to learn about their plans. What more, I’m excited that they are including us, our thoughts, our ideas and our insight into their plans. I like that they are so open to criticism and critique.

I’m also extremely excited to begin working on my new media study. Virtual reality is an area of which I have researched but have little practical experience working in, and I am looking forward to delving deeper into how it can combine to work with photography, mobile devices and journalism. What I like about this project is that as news organizations nationally are beginning to work in the virtual reality space, I can watch and learn from what they’re doing to decipher what could be done best going forward. I hope to produce a project by the end that encapsulates all components and gives insight into a sliver of the capabilities of virtual reality.

Finally, I’m excited to begin working with video. While I have experience working with broadcast form video, there are many video components I haven’t worked with simply because they are not in the traditional format of what is presented on television. I’m hoping New Media Photography will allow me to explore how video can work in other formats.

Overall, the photography lessons were extremely eye opening. I did not realize how little I knew when it came to operating a camera, but I’m excited with what I now know.

New Media Photography: Project Proposal

For my New Media Photography study, I would like to investigate and explore the production of photography on mobile devices, including cell phones and tablets. In particular, I would like to interact and engage with mobile applications that allow for manipulation of capturing, such as Manual, photo editing tools, such as Afterlight and VSCO, and photo sharing and streaming tools, such as Periscope.

I am interested in this topic because while I wouldn’t necessarily venture to say mobile photography would ever replace traditional photography, I would say it’s increasingly becoming a larger portion of the industry. My personal photography experience has largely been limited to mobile photography as I have not because to afford or finance a high-end camera. While I recognize that my limited tools cannot make me a professional, I can still take quality photos for use.

With this in mind, I would also like to discuss how an amateur could become a better photographer using cell phone cameras and mobile apps. Another topic I would like to explore is how important it is to discuss ethics when it comes to new media photography. In particular, with easy and instant photo sharing capabilities, what journalistic ethics must be considered before posting? Is a screenshot considered photography? If a photo is widely available, is credit necessary, who receives it and how is it given? Is a mobile user considered a photographer or photojournalist?

I hope to answer these questions through my research. In particular, I hope to find out the best new media tools to take quality photos on mobile devices.

I’ll get started by researching technology and photography blogs. I have a few mobile photography apps on my phone that I haven’t ever played around with.

By the end of my project, I will produce a post that incorporates my trials and errors through screenshots of my photography using the particular apps.

New Media Photography: First Reflection

As technology begins to develop, so does photography. From expensive photo-capturing devices that used to take two minutes to complete to relatively cheap cameras that now fit in our pockets, the ability of anyone to grab a photo now comes down to how fast he or she can whip out a camera. Does that mean the desire for professional photographers and photojournalists suddenly diminishes? I don't think so.

The tool with which one uses to take photos and the knowledge brought to the art influences the definition of a professional. Most cameras have an automatic function, meaning settings are determined by the camera based on the surrounding external exposure. On high-end cameras in optimal conditions, the automatic function may produce a perfectly acceptable photo. But few are fortunate enough to constantly receive such conditions, especially those who specialize in weather photography. In those cases, knowing to what settings to adjust ISO and aperture can separate an amateur and a professional.

All of the previous comments are not to say that amateur photographers cannot be valuable. News organizations have limited resources in both the number of professional photographers they can afford to finance on budget and the speed with which they can send those on staff to cover stories. This is where citizen journalists, specifically citizen photographers, can play a critical role. The Weather Channel has pioneered a program to collect photos and videos from weather enthusiasts around the country to capture as many stories as possible. The benefits of this program are twofold: it provides a solution to the previously mentioned challenges for news organizations, but it also engages more audiences, making them more loyal to a specific news product.

It is essential though for these programs to provide participants with a strong user experience. Websites — or mobile applications — that are difficult to navigate, misleading or challenging to understand can immediately drive away a user. Beta testing can help identify those rusty links in the chain before mass unveiling to produce a strong, tested product.

I look forward to more opportunities to learn about the workings of a camera, the editing process and development of the weather-based photography program.