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.

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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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.