Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Why I'll never be a Photojournalist

I'm having trouble with an assignment.

Honestly I can't even think of where to start. Maybe the fact I keep watching countless episodes of Ugly Betty and painting my nails on my days off isn't exactly helping but honestly, I'm stuck and it is TOO easy to find excuses.
My current assignment is a photojournalism task. Which involves taking a photo and writing an accompanying 500 word story to it. Firstly, I'm doing a certificate of photography so I don't see why I need to write a story. I mean, they'll only be marking me on how well the photo relates to the words so would it not make more sense to give me a text and instruct me to take an accompanying photo? Secondly, 500 words? That is such an awkward length. Too long for a meaningless fluff piece and too short for an actual story. Thirdly, this task is not specific enough. Do they expect a factual article or a narrative style?

So with no real starting point other than "take a photo and write a story" I am, understandably, unsure of where to start. I've looked through my archives and the thing with photojournalism is something has to actually be happening in the photo. I've realised I don't have a whole lot of photos that fit that description. I've found three that I think make good photojournalism, two of which involve pigeons but turning any of them into a story is proving a wee bit of a challenge. I mean, how can I write 500 words about pigeons?

The other day, on my way to work I saw one of Sydney's regular homeless men, begging in the prayer position at the George/Park/Druitt st. intersection (Sydneysiders- you probably know the one I mean. Not many people in Australia beg in the prayer position.) with a cigarette in his hand. I mean, who would give money to a SMOKING beggar? You know exactly what they spend their money on, and it's something that will most likely kill them. Now, if I had my SLR with me for some reason I could have gotten a perfect shot for this assignment. But I know if I went to the effort of lugging my SLR to Darlinghurst and back on the off chance that he's a) there and b) smoking, all I'd end up with is a sore shoulder.
So, short of paying a homeless person to smoke while I take photos, for an assignment that I'll probably get an A for no matter what I do, seems a little ridiculous. So that brings me back to my three original photos: pigeons, a man running to avoid having his photo taken, and pigeons. So here they are! Now readers, this is where you come in, if any strange, inspired person sees this and can come up with a little bit of inspiration for a story that may fit one of these shots, please- thrown me a bone.

Luckily, I'm halfway through my NEXT assignment and already have some idea of what I'm doing for my final so it looks like the perfect transcript could still be mine.

-m xx

p.s. I've got a promo/portrait shoot for Sydney band Minus House coming up this weekend. I'm extremely excited because it's been about a year since my last promo shoot AND it's paid work AND there's going to be paint involved. The boys seem to have their ideas pretty sorted which means less stress for me and less being yelled at for them (not that I would yell at clients. I'm a professional). Anyway, look out for those on my photo blog in the next week or so.


  1. Mel, in response to your most recent comment to me about age... well no response, but I liked what you said. Thanks. :)

    And you know I'm a journalist. Just give me a call if you need advice. International long distance, yeees. Oh wait you don't know my #. Shoot me a message then.

    But seriously.. wow. Your assignment is harder than it looks. As you said, usually the story comes first before the picture.

    Here's my input. The first picture.

    Pigeons are usually a nuisance for city goers. Not for Javier Sausalito. Sausalito has made it his life mission to spread his love of pigeons to tourists and residents of Unknown City. Tiny Tim was more than happy to embrace the birds, but his mother Bittle Skittle was a bit skittish. "They are nasty birds and I don't understand why this man hangs around them," said Skittle. Sausalito gave Tiny Tim some food to share with the birds. Etc etc etc.

  2. High-larious... nice lol. BTW did you see my June 19 post? I was inspired by your posts that you do with photos.

    Aw I'd love to see Santorini. I'll have to go there sometime and I will make sure I'm not fat so I won't turn away! lol.

    Do you have to have you SLR to do the photo? Just use some snazzy photo app on your iPhone! You always have your phone with you, right?