Shooting and posting your slideshow

You have several days, including the weekend, to do this because I want you to have a chance to find a story that engages you. Your assignment is to find a story to cover. It could be a concert, a sporting event, a street fair — whatever.  What I am pushing you to do is to produce a piece of visual storytelling. If you put together a slideshow comprising random pictures, you haven’t done any storytelling, even if you diligently write titles and captions for each one.

You can find listings of plenty of things going on in the Boston Phoenix, at Boston.com and a whole host of other places. An event at Northeastern is fine. Or you could simply interview a series of people about a topic you’re interested in.

I suggested covering an event, but you don’t have to. I’m simply looking for a great story idea. Don’t get hung up on the word “event.” For instance, if you want to cover a sporting event, you would, quite frankly, be far better off photographing a pick-up basketball game at the Marino Center than doing something big-time. You’ll get good access, good pictures and you can interview and take pictures of a few of the players.

I don’t want anyone getting into trouble for talking in the library, but what sorts of students are in the library at midnight on a Saturday? Or do a story on, say, a local eatery. The Espresso Royale Caffè is a pretty colorful place. You could interview a barista and a few of the customers.

Think about variety. For instance, let’s say I decided to visit Espresso Royale. I might shoot an environmental portrait of a barista (in front of an espresso machine, perhaps), or maybe waiting on someone. I’d want a customer sitting, working on his laptop. Maybe a couple more talking with each other. A few wide shots. Maybe an outdoor shot? A barista smoking outside, perhaps.

You will take a series of photos for your story. I’ll be looking for you to pick the best ones, but don’t be shy about taking a lot of pictures. Electrons are cheap. Aim for variety: distance shots, close-up shots and the like. I want to see brief interviews with at least three people. For instance, if you go to a hockey game, you should take pictures and get quotes from three fans, or two fans and a hot-dog vendor — something like that. Your goal is to produce a piece of visual storytelling, so try to have an idea of what you hope your slideshow will look like as you’re shooting.

Your next step will be to edit your photos with whatever editing program you like, such as PixlriPhotoPicasa — or Photoshop if you have access to it and know how to use it. You will be producing a slideshow with at least six but no more than 10 pictures, so choose your best. Carefully crop each photo, and use your editing tools to improve lighting and contrast and to remove red-eye. This is journalism, so the idea is to strive for accuracy. Please don’t play around with unnatural colors or special effects.

Once you have finished choosing and editing your photos, upload them to your Flickr photostream and create a set. Write a title and a caption for each picture. Write a headline and a description for the set. Choose the picture you think best illustrates the set and make it your opening image. Add tags. Adjust permissions if you would like.

Finally, embed your lead image in your blog. Write a short story to go with the photo (it can be less than a typical 300- to 350-word blog post), and link your photo to your Flickr set. I want your slideshow to tell the story. Make it clear to your readers how they can access your set. A caption that says “For more photos, click on image” is sufficient.

Your deadline will be Tuesday, Feb. 14, before class. We’ll look at some of them in class that day. Please note that this gives you an extra day compared to what I originally posted on the syllabus.

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About Dan Kennedy

I am an associate professor of journalism at Northeastern University, and I'm using WordPress.com for my blog, Media Nation, as well as class websites.
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