A Final Photostory and Goodbye: Spring Cleaning at Belle Isle

Wrapping up the semester with a photo story was a nice ending to this class. I’m extremely thankful to have learned how to use some editing software’s like Adobe Premiere, even if it’s just at a beginner level. I had such a great time completing each task involved with this project.

The week we came back from spring break, I attended a panel that discussed human trafficking that was hosted by the people who run the PEACE Journals organization at Wayne State. PEACE Journals was started at WSU by Ahmed Awada and are an organization that gives people a safe space when needed. They promote peace, love and happiness and host events to advocate for those things.

At the panel, PEACE Journals announced that they were heading to Belle Isle on April 22 to participate in their annual spring clean up event and I thought this would be such a fun thing to shoot (especially because I wanted to help clean up one of my favorite parks as well), so I asked if I could hang around and take pictures of them.

The event was genuine and fun; everyone there was really into keeping Belle Isle clean and they brought such positive energy with them. The weather could not have been better after a week of rain. The sun was out and it wasn’t too hot, making it perfect to get down and dirty when needed, as well as giving me great lighting for photos.

This project was actually one of the first out of the projects we did that made me feel like I wanted to continue practicing my photojournalism skills. I want to continue to explore different environments and speak with different people about what they’re doing. I want to be curious and follow my questions and give people the voice they deserve.

The people in PEACE Journals were all so kind and easy to chat with, I felt excited to photograph and interview them. I feel more excited to interview and photograph other people as I continue down this journalism road, and I feel more prepared to do so.


Portraits: Exposing the People Behind the Counter

Portrait shooting was fun, but I don’t think I thought about it as much as I should have. I would like to go back and re-do my portrait shots sometime in the future.

When I go back I want to explore the subject in different environments and try to capture their personality better with a variety of angles and lighting.

I feel like this assignment came quickly and I didn’t give it the attention it deserved, but I tried my best to capture someone I thought was interesting.

I shot a local downriver barista, Kaitlyn Szwed, who has created almost half of the new drinks on the menu at City Coffeehouse. Some of these drinks include the Toasted Coconut latte, the Samoa Latte, Heart Palpitations in a Cup and the S’mores Mocha Frappuccino.

She is one of the youngest workers to contribute so many fresh and new ideas that will allow City Coffeehouse to offer something their competitors don’t, and no other employee has taken such initiative to create something for the menu.

I think I should have tried shooting some pictures of Katie outside to use better and natural lighting to my advantage, because like most coffee bars, City was dimly lit. My ISO was high, making my shots grainy.

If I could go back and do this differently I would have definitely tried to shoot a picture of Kaitlyn standing outside in front of the windows of City, and I would have taken more time to find her best angles to capture her bright personality.

I know I can really improve on portraits and I want to take my camera to every event I attend in the near future. I want to capture the people that catch my eye and gain more experience.

I feel like capturing true emotion and personality is something I want to continuously work on because I want to show raw and real life in an image. I know I’m far from that, but I’m ready to keep working on my portfolio and to capture dynamic lifestyles throughout this summer to maintain my online presence.

Exploring Sports


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Shooting sports was not as difficult as I expected it to be. The movement and capturing good moments was a little tough and I had to remind myself to look at everything with a photographer’s perspective to determine what deserved the cameras attention.

The part that I felt made it easier on me was that I didn’t have to ask everyone for their names because they were continuously introduced and in the press box there was a paper that allowed me to spell check what I wrote down.

I found that maybe starting off with a different sport other than softball or baseball would have been a wise choice considering it was difficult to shoot past the fence. Especially when you are a student journalist and have no credentials to shoot on the side of the field for closer pictures.

I also think it was harder to get a meaningful audience reaction during the game that wasn’t just a few claps and shouts of encouragement. There wasn’t too much real energy to capture in the audience during the game.

I think the challenge I had the most fun with was shooting the action. The rush that I was getting from setting up my camera to trying to get multiple shots to capture each stage of the action was incredible satisfying, especially when I caught someone right in the middle of some intense movement.

The coach shot was difficult considering they stayed close to the dug-out and maneuvering around the fence to get a clear shot was an issue. However, the coach would step out after each inning to speak with the players in groups, and I had to try and wait for direct conversation to capture a decent picture.

I wish I could have stepped on the field for just a second to get a picture of the girls shouting encouraging words to their teammates because their energy was mesmerizing. However, I was defeated again by the fence and the areas I could occupy.

In the end, I had much more fun than I anticipated shooting the game and I am looking forward to exploring different events in the future.

Feature Journey: Trying to Capture Life as it’s Happening

Steve Czapiewski, Jim Schmalenberg and Steve Gamber add detail to their works right before a small break at the “See What Stacey Started,” live model drawing event on Tuesday, March 21 inside the Phoenix Cafe.
Sculptor, Jim Schmalenberg has his hands working, honing in on a live model’s striking features at the “See What Stacey Started,” live model drawing event on Tuesday, March 21 in the Phoenix Cafe.
Sketch and fashion artist, Janet Powell draws clothes for the nude model with colored pencils and the Phoenix Cafe’s weekly “See What Stacey Started,” live model drawing event on Tuesday, March 21.
Loyal Detroit Derby fan, Malcolm Mcvicar suits up in all green and excites the crowd at the Masonic Temple on Saturday, March 17 for the championship derby game between the Detroit Pist-Offs and the Dfunk All Stars.

Searching for an event to cover for this feature project was not a huge struggle. There are a lot of things going on all of the time. The struggle was to figure out what event would be interesting to photograph.

I had constant opportunity to shoot concerts, but my standard camera can’t balance the light well enough, and all of those photos would have turned out black. I had to look further and attend something out of my comfort zone, which was extremely intimidating, I might add.

Working part-time as a listings editor at the Detroit Metro Times gave me an upper-hand and I found one event that I thought would be interesting to shoot. However, when choosing this event, I was faced with my constant problem in my journalism endeavors, which is covering events that I find interesting, but an audience probably does not, which is something I need to work on.

I took photos at the Phoenix Cafe in Hazel Park. Every Tuesday they host a live model drawing event and I thought it would be interesting to capture people working on art because I feel like indulging in artistic self-expression is a vulnerable and interesting thing. I didn’t photograph the live model because he was nude, and even though I had permission to photograph the artists, I wanted to respect the live model’s wishes and exclude him in my project.

I’m not sure if the event was feature-worthy, and I still need to work really hard on looking at the world in a different light in order to spot interesting things people are doing around me.

For my enterprise photo, I just chose to take a picture of this guy in all green at the Detroit Roller Derby. I found my fear and shyness kept me from some really good shots, enterprise, and feature alike. I missed out on some shots I knew would be good because I didn’t know how to approach the people for their names, and feared to be rude by capturing them when they didn’t want to be.

I also ran into people denying me their names because they didn’t want a photo of them or their children on an internet platform that wasn’t their own, which made me feel invasive and regretful.

I need to work on understanding my objectives better and stepping out of my comfort zone still. I could use more confidence because people are more likely to comply when you approach them in a light, positive and confident manner, instead of a shy one.

Overall, finding cool events and finding interesting people to photograph wasn’t exactly a struggle, it was having the courage to shoot them and ask them for personal information that I found difficult, but I’m ready to work harder at those aspects, so I can get more comfortable and shoot better photos.

Cutlines: Short & Sweet

After reading some guidelines on photography cutlines, I realize how important they are to photojournalism. Before, I felt like cutlines were a small detail that didn’t always need to be included in an article. I thought the article itself would give reference and explanation to the picture it was printed with, but now I know that cutlines with photographs are extremely important for concise and clear information that a person could be missing as they read a story.

Cutlines should explain what’s going in the image in about two sentences or less. These sentences should include the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where and sometimes why. Some of these cutlines will include explanations for special effects used to edit the photo, a small quote from someone photographed to add more personality or even a description of the colors in the photo if it’s printed in black and white. Each cutline must be written in AP style and should be short, sweet and to the point.

Good and accurate cutlines are necessary for an adequate clip and every photojournalist should learn how to produce them. They identify the subjects in a picture and even provide a small description of the action happening in the picture. Cutlines provide information that can clarify any question a reader may have about the photo or article, and they do it in the most efficient way possible.

The First Amendment is First for a Reason

The First Amendment in our constitution is as follows:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

As a citizen of the United States, our First Amendment gives us a voice to express our opinions and a voice to criticize the environment and institutions we live. It grants us the ability to indulge is self-expression and to explore beliefs and ideas that shape us individually. It also allows us to share these thoughts, opinions, and beliefs with the public whether it be in the form of conversation, protest or press.

The First Amendment gives us a strong power that allows us to truly be in charge of our own lives if we abide by it correctly and ethically.

As a studying journalist and photojournalist, I’m taught to share information with my peers, no matter how harsh and brutal it can be. It’s my job to spread the truth and exercise my freedom of speech and press. However, it is extremely important for me to recognize my ethical boundaries, so I don’t abuse my constitutional rights.

However, it is extremely important for me to recognize my ethical boundaries, so I don’t abuse my constitutional rights.

Reading multiple articles and Photo Journalism The Professionals Approach by Kenneth Kobré discussing photojournalism ethics, I found a strong common rule embedded in each list that I thought was a strong rule to go by when trying to get a story.

That specific rule is called the “Golden Rule” which explains that you should never photograph, write, get involved with something, if you would never want that story released about you. You have to put yourself in your subject’s shoes at all times, you need to treat others how you would wish to be treated.

I also learned about what I can photograph and where, and found the possibilities I have to capture something is larger than I had imagined.

A major thing that contributed to this knowledge was the fact that photojournalists do not have to release the content they captured upon police request if they were shooting in a place it’s allowed, which is almost anywhere unless specifically stated.

This is specified in “The Photographers Rights” by Bert P Krages II along with other rights photojournalists have.

These rights along with limits, are extremely important to keep in mind as a visual storyteller. They will assist me in releasing honest, ethical and important stories. Even if there is a struggle along the way because the truth may be hard to see and hard to hear, I will fight with my rights because it’s the public’s right to know what’s going on in their world, no matter if it’s good or bad.

I Shot 10 Photos to Exemplify Photography Techniques

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I have never gone beyond my phone or my old digital camera I took pictures with in grade seven to document my life visually, so this first photojournalism project was a learning experience. As I worked through the ten elements, I learned something new and saw ways I could improve immediately with my picture taking skills. With my final 10 pictures, I see lessons and I know that I’m still rough around the edges, but I’m excited to get better and grow as a photographer in this class.

The hardest pictures for me to shoot were the panned action and the shallow depth-of-field pictures. I couldn’t quite get the subject in complete focus for my panned action. For the shallow depth-of-field, I had a hard time creating a blurred background. I went through a lot of different aperture numbers and shutter speeds to shoot the photos I have now, and I need to continue practicing to establish standard numbers that I associate with those specific photographic elements.

The pictures I enjoyed shooting the most were perspective, stopped motion and blurred action. I shot these elements with multiple different subjects and narrowing down to my favorite pictures was a hard task. I know I need to work on lighting with these and maybe experiment more with perspective to get cooler shots, but I had a fun time shooting them.

I need to work on capturing a lighter and more focused background with my silhouette image. I used the sunset to my advantage this time. For my shadow pictures, I also need to pay more attention to the light and perspective I am shooting with, so I can get more exaggerated and darker shadows.

A lot of my photos were shot when the sun was setting or when it was close to setting, so I would like to experiment more with shooting in a daylight setting. I would also like to experiment with inside settings, considering I played on natural light for each of my photos.

Even though I did stick to shooting in the same lighting for the most part, I did consider the light I was working with more than I ever have when taking photos. I considered the exact spot I was standing in, as well as considering how the light was hitting my subject.

This project gave me a push to begin leaving my comfort zone with taking pictures. I still have minor anxieties about invading people’s personal space and moving around to get a good shot, but since these photos are pretty average and not super exaggerated, I want to work on eliminating that anxiety. I want to be able to move around for better shots that will capture people’s interest.

My photos for this project did satisfy me as a beginner, but I know I can do better and work harder to get a better shot if I focus and if I let go of my anxieties.