Teach a little, learn a loT
Key Words: camera operations, photography, photojournalism
Dear Journalism Students,
I have a confession. Until the past two weeks, I really didn't know how to use a camera. I mean, sure, I knew how to point and click and use those handy automated settings — I even knew, in theory how to use the more sophisticated automated settings of aperture and shutter priority. But full manual mode? Let's just say that I've been faking it until I make it.
Most of you know that I've been working — oh so slowly — on my Masters degree in journalism through Kent State University's online program designed for journalism educators. For the past four years, I've tried to pass on to you everything I have learned about media law, journalistic ethics, effective newswriting, powerful opinion journalism, social media's changing role, media literacy and more. I even taught you photo composition rules and discussed how action, reaction and emotion lead to great photojournalism.
What I haven't taught you — at least not well — is how to use our Canon Rebel T5i cameras. I was thrilled to inherit them last year when I took over the yearbook program, but I relied on our photography teacher to come in to do a workshop at the beginning of the year and leaned on those of you in the class who have taken photography in the past to help your classmates.
Here's the thing. Students aren't the only ones who get frustrated when learning doesn't come easily. The reason I hadn't learned the camera fully was because it was really hard to do. I was embarrassed by my lack of skill, so I put my other educational responsibilities ahead of learning camera basics. I tried several times with some very patient friends, but it took a class to force me past my fear.
The professor for the Teaching Multimedia grad class I'm taking this semester is professional photojournalist Lori King. Here are her 2017 photos of the year for the Toledo Blade — you can see I am in good hands. This class covers a wide variety of multimedia journalistic skills, from social media and podcasting to photojournalism, and the unit we are wrapping up today finally forced me to confront our publication cameras in manual mode.
The slideshow at the beginning of this blog shows you my final outcome — my project for this unit. My photos are far from perfect, but you will see from the images — each taken in manual mode to showcase a different skill and captioned with info about my lens, ISO, aperture and shutter speed for the shot — that I now understand some crucial basic information about shooting in manual:
Don't worry, students — I am not about to quit my job and strike out as a photojournalist. I have a lot more to learn to even be a good at this advising gig. But I now feel confident that I can sit down with you and talk through the camera together. We can put it into manual mode and take some photos to talk about how we make choices when we shoot.
I can tell you, honestly. that you can and will begin to understand these cameras; you aren't stupid if it doesn't come naturally or quickly. If I can do it, I know you can, too. Let's shoot past this fear together.
“And though she be but little, she is fierce!” -A Midsummer Night’s Dream