photojournalism

PODCAST EPISODE #52: Oliver Janney, senior field production supervisor, CNN

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The morning after he sat down for this podcast, Oliver Janney hopped on a plane from Washington, DC to Norman, Oklahoma.

Why?

He could not pass up the chance to be a part of the faculty at the famed NPPA News Video Workshop.

Janney has a pretty busy day job; he is the senior field production supervisor at the DC bureau for CNN. He monitors dozens of photojournalists who fly all over the world to cover the biggest stories.

But he also used to be one of those photojournalists in the field, and before he reached the national heights of CNN, he got a kick-start by attending the workshop in Norman.

Janney is my guest on Episode #52 of the Telling The Story podcast.

“That one week truly changed the trajectory of my career,” Janney told me. “I thought I knew what I was doing before that, and I came out of that week questioning everything, excited, and just fired up.”

I met Janney two weeks ago when we both spoke at a different NPPA workshop: the Northern Short Course in Fairfax, Va. I truly enjoyed hearing his perspective as a photojournalist who has experienced both local and national newsrooms. I wanted to bring his insights to the recorded audience of this podcast, and Janney happily obliged.

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PODCAST EPISODE #37: Jed Gamber, WBFF-TV & Catherine Steward, WTVF-TV

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Awards season is underway in local TV news.

Over the next few months, some of the most prestigious associations in journalism will present lists of winners and honor some of the best reporters and photojournalists in the field.

Photojournalists Jed Gamber and Catherine Steward are off to a great start.

This past week, Gamber and Steward each received one of the highest honors in the craft: being named NPPA Regional Photographer of the Year. Gamber captured the crown for the East region for his work at WBFF-TV in Baltimore, while Steward topped the Central region after a stellar year with WTVF-TV in Nashville. The award they won prizes consistency and versatility and honors an entire year’s worth of powerful storytelling.

Watch their work, and you will quickly see why: these two photojournalists care about awards far less than they care about their audience.

Gamber and Steward are my guests of this episode of the Telling the Story podcast.

They discuss questions of technique, teamwork, and communication, but they speak with such obvious and heartfelt passion. They so clearly believe in the power of storytelling to reach an audience, and they bring that purpose into their work. Any storyteller can learn from what these two have to say.

They are also among the star-studded line-up of speakers at this year’s NPPA Southeast Storytelling Workshop, being held June 10th and 11th in Atlanta. I am organizing and co-hosting the conference with photojournalist (and one-time podcast guest) John Kirtley of WLOS-TV in Asheville. We welcome anyone looking to improve as a storyteller and receive inspiration from some of the best in the country — including the two guests on this episode.

Click here to learn more and register for the conference, Feel free to e-mail me with questions at the address below. In the meantime, enjoy the discussion of craft with two extremely talented — and newly honored — TV news photojournalists.

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PODCAST EPISODE #15: Michael Driver, Photographer, KUSA-TV

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Young photojournalists — heck, all photojournalists — need to listen to this podcast.

Last week, after winning my own award as NPPA Solo Video Journalist of the Year, I decided I wanted to interview another of the association’s big award winners for 2013.

I found a photojournalist whose work I have admired and referenced before in the blog: Michael Driver of KUSA-TV in Denver.

Driver was named the NPPA’s 2013 West Top Regional Photographer of the Year, and he beat some of America’s finest photojournalists to do it. The West, largely because of the highly-regarded photographer staffs at KUSA and Seattle’s KING-TV, is usually the most competitive region in the country. Driver arrived in Denver in 2012, eager to make his stamp on the competition.

Then he went ahead and won the whole thing.

Driver produced some magnificent work in 2013; I have included two stories below. First, “I Miss You, Beryl”:

Then, “Before I Die”:

Now Driver joins me on the Telling The Story podcast, and he is as ferocious on the mic as he is behind the camera.

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5 lessons from the NPPA’S best video stories of 2012

Last week was a national celebration of storytelling … and you may have missed it.

The National Press Photographers Association, or NPPA, announced the winners in its annual Best of Photojournalism video and editing competitions. This year’s judges selected breathtaking stories from some of the finest video journalists in the country. Most of the winning pieces are timeless; you could watch them two months from now or two years from now and be just as moved as if you watched them today.

Watching the winners this week, I felt one thing above all: I wish I had done better.

I don’t mean “better” in the sense of winning or losing. I have fared very well in past NPPA competitions, finishing in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place in the past three years in their standings for solo video journalists, or reporters who shoot their own stories. Since I joined in 2010, I have picked up an outstanding amount of photojournalistic techniques, gotten to know some talented colleagues, and found myself inspired by those colleagues’ stories.

No, what I mean is more insular: I wish I had done better work this past year.

I take great pride in the work I produced in 2012, but as I watched this year’s NPPA winners, I could not help but think about how much further I can grow as a photojournalist.

I should mention that I do not always prioritize the NPPA way in my daily work. As a solo video journalist, I must focus on every part of the reporting process: interviewing, researching, writing, shooting video, and editing. The NPPA tends to reward, I find, a certain style of story: one that emphasizes shooting and editing first while still valuing the other elements. They typically exalt the more stylistic, emotional stories above the investigative, information-heavy ones. This, of course, makes sense: the NPPA, after all, is an association of visual journalists, and they should not feel compelled to give out awards for writing and researching. But the NPPA philosophy does not always mesh with a newsroom’s philosophy or a particular day’s assignment.

That disclaimer aside, I greatly value the association for what it does so well: provide visual journalists a resource to continually improve their visual skills.

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