Thoughts on Reporting: Texas Floods 2016 Photojournalism

One of the most effective mediums in reporting is photography. Since the dawn of cameras, people want to visually see the news that they read about. Visuals can completely define a moment more than words can. For example, photos of firefighters on 9/11 or of John F. Kennedy’s son after the tragic death of his father have completely defined the emotions of an event taking place in time. Photojournalism has further extended the power of the pen. It has allowed a better understanding of the world because anybody can look at a picture to feel emotion.

In terms of this post, I’ve recently been taking a look at many different photos from the recent flooding down in Texas. Some of these photos have given me a complete understanding of feelings down there. The photojournalism work done by reporters have been great for this event and I’d like to discuss that. These photos are fantastic in terms of defining the situation.

Clicking on this link, you’ll see 17 photos from the Texas floods. You’ll see rescue teams, victims, destroyed roads, destroyed homes, animals, and lots of water. In the 17 photos, a lot of them are scene-setters to sort of display the magnitude of the floods. As I said, there are really some brilliant photographs here. The colors and lighting are all worked with effectively. To take effective daytime photos, the ISO on the camera was low and the aperture was high which creates a vibrant effect on nature. Nighttime photos are the opposite.

But if I wanted to get picky, which I’m about to do, I’d say that there is a lack of portrait photos. Now, there can be an explanation for why that is, so let’s explore that.

A reason why there isn’t a portrait photo here is due to the fact that the story tellers decided not to focus on one person. Some of the shots of families or of rescue workers could be considered portraits, but there are no tight-faced shots. This story by NBC News from the link I posted above seems to focus moreover upon the overarching deal rather than one person’s matters.

This is still an effective form of telling this story. I really can’t get over some of the details in these photos. My absolute favorite photo out of the 17 is definitely number 6. You see two men outlined by the back-lighting of a car’s headlights. They are standing in the rain and are looking at another car that was stranded out in the water. This photo is quite powerful and intriguing to look at. You understand the magnitude of the flood and can feel what these men are feeling. Really, the only thing we don’t know, is who they are.

I think this article could have been more effective maybe if it had some portrait photography. When we’re hammered with photos of the flood, it’d be nice to hear from a victim and see them personally. I’m not saying that the article needs to feature somebody, but in my opinion, it could use it.

When talking about photos from 9/11, we’ll see ash, rubble, firefighters, and the American flag. Which are great photos at the times of the attack and even now. But here we are nearly 15 years after the attacks and it’s like we want more from what already happened. This is where the portraits can become important. Somebody’s 9/11 story 15 years later is a very effective story now because you’re taking a memory and bringing it back to the mind. Her story becomes a bridge off of the photos from stories 15 years earlier.

So what I’m saying, once this story ages like a fine wine, the portrait photos will become a much more effective way of telling the stories of victims individually.

For now, I think this story is told effectively through scene-setters and detail shots. You’re putting focus on the overall emotions of people and the overall situation rather than individuals.

Again, photojournalism can display so much more than words can. We learned that portrait photos and scene-setters are almost necessary to tell a story about disaster. Story telling goes a long way and has many different branches. Photojournalism’s branch has grown thick with some incredible shots of our world. Pictures last forever and that’s an important aspect to take away from photojournalism.


Experiences In The Field

When it comes to going out in the field for journalism, things can very difficult involving your sources. People aren’t as eager to talk to you as you’d think they would be. In terms of my experience in the field, I’ve had some pretty interesting encounters. Looking back, there are a lot of learning experiences and things to take away headed into the future.

In terms of shooting, you always have to make sure you’re getting something interesting and relevant to the story. Following the rule of thirds is so important. Shooting a news story should be the same way one shoots a movie. Lighting, frame composition, character placement, and sounds all need to be taken into account when shooting for films as well as shooting for the news. It seems like like a lot to take into when sitting down for just a few minutes, but they’re important aspects of filming. If you don’t follow the basic rules of film, you can have a broken broadcast that will lose viewers. People will notice shaky cams and poor editing. The audience will notice all the bad lighting and all the bad character placement. As a film connoisseur, I study all when it comes to film. The knowledge I’ve gained in film classes and watching a lot of movies have extended my viewpoints on news and TV as well. As I said above, if all the elements are taken into account, you don’t have to worry about doing it right. The information you film becomes better when shot correctly.

My abilities in interviews don’t scare me. I’m very confident when it comes to reporting. I’m not scared when it comes to talking to strangers. But when it comes to strangers, they’re scared of talking to you. When you see a big fat confident guy walking towards you with a camera, notepad, and messenger bag, it can be a little intimidating. I get that. Long before I wanted to become a journalist, I was definitely scared about talking to random people. Hell, I was uneasy about speaking to my family members sometimes. But I turned a corner. Sociability is one of the best traits one can have. If you know how to work with all kinds of people, you can go places with reporting. I knew I wanted to be a reporter when I realized I could combine my writing with my emotions and my ability to connect with others.

In my “journeys” as a reporter, I’ve learned that you can’t always be the confident fat guy. Sometimes, you’ve got to be a timid fat guy. You almost have to make the subject become the interviewer in a way. Meanwhile, you’re in total control. They think they’re dominating the interview by just talking about what they want to talk about, but you’ve forced them to do so. You have to be able to tell how an interview is going to be before you get yourself into it. You have to get somebody to be emotional towards the subject of the interview. An emotion carries the importance of the a story.

That’s all I really have from experience. But, my experience may differ from others. It’s all a matter of comfort level. To be a reporter, you have to be comfortable with exiting your comfort zone. Also, to create a great visual story, you have to use all the right aspects of film. That’s all I’ve got this week.


What Multimedia Journalism Means to Me

Of course, our current world is dominated by the rise of technology. Within technology, there is social media and instant access to news that we’ve never had before. The rise of multimedia within journalism is something that is good, but also bad, but moreover, good.

Most people today cannot live without the constant checking of social media. There is even a new study that shows how people fear being away from their phones. Many believe that this is a bad thing, which it can be. Of course, some may say that people don’t know the meaning behind meeting face to face or going out to get what they need. But I say this: people need to seek information. Even though it may be the information about their cousin’s foot fungus on Facebook, it’s still a means of accessing information.

An art all about the people must adapt along with the people it works for. This is how news and journalism organizations are adapting. They are giving people the easiest access to news they’ve ever had. This way, the people are getting the news even with a cancelled subscription to the newspaper. Multimedia Journalism is quickly becoming the most important tool in the entire stratosphere that is journalism.

To me, as a current student of journalism, I think this is the most interesting area to study. When one studies multimedia journalism, they are tapping into the world that is around them right now and observing how it is operating. The internet and social media dominate peoples everyday lives; so how can we as journalists work with that? Well, the answer is simple, by giving the people exactly what they want. A great story, that has great visuals and great reason, can go mobile or viral and can be seen by more people than it would have in print.

I use social media and YouTube to my advantage when I want to relay a message as well. Currently on YouTube under the username davmac123456789, I post weekly Vlogs talking about “Nerd News”. This can be anything from video gaming, to movies, to comic books, etc. I certainly have an audience because I promote myself through Twitter and Facebook. I take responsibility for my work because it’s what I love to do. Journalists everywhere should feel the same way. Although times are adapting and the medium of journalism has changed, do what you love to do. If you’re doing what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.


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