On Tuesday, our Digital Storytelling class received a visit from Adam Glanzman, a staff photographer at Northeastern and an accomplished photojournalist. He discussed photo editing tips as well as some of his own work, including a recent feature for the New York Times that started out as a class assignment – a reminder on the importance of pitching.
Glanzman is a photographer in every sense of the word. He literally gets paid to take photos of the goings-on at the university, and has also developed some of his own stories simply by traveling the world and photographing interesting things. I enjoy taking photos, but I don’t consider myself a photographer. However, I feel strongly that a multimedia skill set will be needed to survive in the changing journalistic landscape.
My experience is limited but varied: I take landscape photos every time I visit the beach (simply because I can’t resist), I (very occasionally) force my boyfriend to take selfies with me, and I took on a few assignments for my last internship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) that involved carrying a very big camera. Most notably, that included a week-long trip with one of my colleagues aboard the institution’s newest research vessel, the navy-owned, WHOI-operated Neil Armstrong.
While on the Armstrong, I took near-continuous photo and video of giant oceanographic instrumentation (think 10,000-pound buoys) being hauled in and out of open water. It was exciting to watch, and I learned a lot about shooting both photo and video [side note: while aboard, I wrote a blog post for the ship’s blog that better explains the aims of the cruise]. I also learned something important about myself: I don’t really like carrying around a big camera. I felt incredibly conspicuous, occasionally ridiculous, and often like I was in the way of everyone around me. It was also unwieldy: within the first hour of leaving on the cruise, I lost the wind screen on my camera’s microphone and so couldn’t record any audio.
On the flip side, using the camera was also a lot of fun. If you’re going to be a member of the press, it’s fun to have a prop – though I usually prefer a notebook, my camera in this case captured so much more color and excitement.
For the photo and video assignments for this class, I’m most likely going to be shooting solely on my iPhone. That will be a different experience with its own pros and cons. Though I feel less self-conscious with a small phone in my hand than with a large video camera, I also feel less like a “real” journalist/photographer and more like a student trying to navigate a class assignment. I think my main challenge will be to establish legitimacy as an iPhone photographer – not just for the people I’m photographing, but for myself. Regardless of whether more iPhone shots are where photography is headed – Glanzman doesn’t think so, but photojournalist Ben Lowy certainly does – it’s an important skill for me to add to my repertoire as I move forward with my journalism education.