Examples: College Photographer of the Year

If you want to see what college students are shooting, check out the just-announced winners in this prestigious annual contest:

College Photographer of the Year (all winners)

In particular, I suggest you study the composition in these two categories of winners:

Feature and Sports Feature

Think about WHY those images do not look like random snapshots.

I also recommend the Portrait category.



Blog post 23: Multimedia

Choose any one story from this list of 2013 winners: Best of Photojournalism 2013 Multimedia. Please choose a different story from other students who posted before you did.

Read both Kern, chapter 6, and Kobré, chapter 12, before you view the multimedia.

NOTE: Be sure to select a STORY with AUDIO.

In your blog post, do all of the following:

  1. Provide the title of the story, and make the title a direct link to the main story page.
  2. Summarize the story (do not copy/paste anything; use your own words).
  3. Tell how the story made you feel as you watched and listened to it.
  4. Discuss the images (specify whether they are video or stills or both). You may compare them to images from some other visual media; for example, are they cinematic? Are they like print news images? Are they like TV news images?
  5. Discuss the audio — both its content and the way it contributes to the story.
  6. Separately, discuss the use of natural sound (nat SOT) in the story.

Read more of this post

It’s not the camera. It’s you.

If you want proof, see the shots Jim Richardson took with an iPhone 5s in Scotland.

“Little by little we come around to taking the pictures the camera can do well.” — Jim Richardson,  who shoots for National Geographic Magazine

See Richardson’s Instagram feed.

Examples of photo stories

These are from the winners of the annual international NPPA competition, Best of Photojournalism 2013.

Look at each image and think about the composition. Also: What is THIS picture about? What is the point of EACH image? If you answer these questions, you will be better prepared to start making more meaningful pictures yourself.

AE1 – Myanmar elections, 2012. Think about how the photographer waited, and where he stood, to make these pictures. Almost none of them are straight-on or typical. Look at the lines, the framing. Think about why he chose each one.

1st – illegal immigration in the U.S. This is an issue story (Kobre explains this type). Check out the vast variety of scenes in this photo story. There’s only one full-on close-up of a person in the whole story.

3rd – Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Try to noticed the “captured instant” or “frozen moment” quality in many of the images of people in this story. They are the opposite of random. These are examples of “when to push the button.”

1st – 14-year-old Elvis impersonator. Check out the variety as well as interesting composition in photos are featuring one person.

3rd – A home for underage mothers. This story demonstrates a great variety of angles within a constrained single location.

Exemplary online journalism from last year

See the list — everything is linked:

2013 Online Journalism Awards finalists 

You can learn a lot by looking at a few of these every week.

A nice radio story with just a little reporter voice included

I caught this audio story (5 min.) on Only a Game over the weekend. It’s really well done, I thought — and you should note how little we hear of the reporter’s voice.

The editing is very nice.

The topic is a particular skateboarders’ trick, the McTwist.

One thing to note is that this story was reported and edited by a photojournalist, Andrew Norton. So you need to think about why a photojournalist goes out and learns how to do audio at a professional level. Uh huh. Because now he’s getting paid to put a 5-minute story on NPR.

Oh, and guess what? He was one of the students in the Transom workshop last spring, which produced the projects you critiqued earlier this semester.

Resources for Soundslides

Download and install the free demo version of Soundslides Plus for Mac.

Instructions (PDF): How to upload a Soundslides to Dropbox

Instructions for beginners: Soundslides: A Brief Introduction

See examples of Soundslides stories.

Tips for type of story, audio timing, captions, etc.:


Soundslides stories are great with a combination of natural sound and interviews. For tips on multitrack editing with Audacity, download this PDF.


Examples of photo stories

Here are good examples of recent still-photo stories to supplement chapter 11 in Kobré:

Unlike most photo stories, the fourth example listed above was all shot in one day. Photo stories often result from days, weeks, months, or even years of work by the photographer. Many award-winning photo stories are shot in war zones or at the scene of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake.

As Kobré notes, photo stories often center on a trend or issue. “A picture story has a theme” (p. 232).

Not only are the individual pictures in the story about one subject, but they also help to support one central point. (Kobré, 2008, p. 232)

A typical student cannot make a photo story about a war or a natural disaster, but that doesn’t rule out the potential for creating a good photo story. Kobré offers a lot of great examples that students can be inspired by.

Above all, a photo story should engage the audience either (1) by showing familiar things in a new light, in a way people haven’t considered before, or (2) by showing something unusual, events or activities people would not normally have access to.

A failed photo story would be showing something many people will have already seen, and showing it in a way that’s not original or out of the ordinary.

The worst photo story I’ve seen was a student effort about the life of a medical student. The problem was that all the photos showed that one student not really doing much of anything: reading a book, working at her computer, microwaving her dinner. There was no insight in the images, nothing original, nothing to raise any new ideas in anyone’s mind.

Is it impossible to make a good photo story from that theme? Maybe not impossible, but the images would need to be very, very special for that theme to be engaging to an audience.

“The life of a medical student” also fails the test presented by Kobré on page 232: “[T]he pictures don’t add up to a story. They remain the photographer’s observations without a story line or central message.”

Choices students made for Blog Post 1

Sometimes I am surprised to see how students dealt with an assignment. I had some surprises when grading the first blog post assignment for this course (Blog post 1: Analyze a “beyond radio” story).

The phrase “beyond radio” refers to a chapter that students were supposed to read in the book Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production. The chapter describes many things that NPR is able to do on its website to enhance the stories that are broadcast on radio.

A number of students selected stories that had NONE of these enhancements, other than perhaps one photo or other image added to the Web story.

How does that make sense? When the assignment says, in part: “discuss the ‘beyond radio’ aspects of this story on the website,” it would make the most sense to choose a story that had some of those aspects.

Two examples (these are good choices):

(1) Can We Learn to Forget Our Memories?

Unusually, this story includes five links within the text, and all of the links lead to websites outside NPR.org. These links add information to the story.

The most interesting “beyond radio” thing about this story, though, is that the transcript of the radio story is quite different from the text story. Most students found that the NPR text story was usually very similar to the audio from the radio broadcast. (Most text stories on the NPR site do have a complete transcript of the audio.)

Comparison of the audio, the transcript, and the text story in this case provide very good lessons about the best way to tell a story on different platforms. One important element is the nat sound included in the audio. In this case, that nat sound is NOT “sound effects” (such as hammers, car engines, seagulls at the beach, etc.) but instead sound captured on site at the 2012 USA Memory Championship, including groans and applause from the audience. The nat sound brings the audio story to life.

The text story is structured much differently and adds a lot of new information not found in the audio story.

(2) Mekong Flows Along Troubled Myanmar’s East

This story is one of five in a series broadcast in 2010, when NPR’s Southeast Asia correspondent Michael Sullivan and freelance photojournalist Christopher Brown traveled along the Mekong River from the Tibetan plateau in China to the giant delta in southern Vietnam. In class, I showed the interactive feature accompanying this story. Outstanding “beyond radio” aspects of this story include the 9-image photo slideshow at the top of the story page, a map, and the interactive itself, which is linked to an image embedded in the story text.

Photos. And radio. That’s “beyond radio.”

Something else you can’t do on radio: The other four stories in this series are linked to this one.