How I covered my first photojournalism project.

As a follow up to my earlier post on my press coverage of the Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon I wanted to add some background information on how I found my first go at photojournalism. How I shot it? what equipment I used to cover the event? and what happened next?

What’s in my camera bag?

[single_lightbox url=”” image_url=”” image_width=”670px” image_height=”500px” title=”Getting ready for the Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon 2013. Pictured is my canon 5D mk2, Sigma 70-200mm EX DG Macro, Sigma 24-70mm EX DG Macro, Canon Speedlite 430 EXII and my Canon 200DG “Gadget” camera bag..”]

For this shoot I knew that I could be faced with any situation, Close-up opportunities, wide angle opportunities, portraits of people, groups shots. I also knew I wouldn’t be able to get too close to the on-screen action. So the lenses I used were my Sigma 24-70mm and my 70-200mm. Both are f/2.8 lenses. The 24-70mm will allow me to cover wide shots at 24mm but still allows me to grab to close portraits. The 70-200mm will allow me to get close to the action on the set without having to be on the set. I also like to use this lens to get more candid shots of people from a distance. I prefer candid shots of people when they don’t know I’m looking, it’s real, it’s natural and makes for some really interesting shots and that is what photojournalism means to me. It shouldn’t be posed for.

[single_lightbox url=”” image_url=”” image_width=”670px” image_height=”446px” title=”Wide Shot of the whole Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon 2013, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.”]

I also carried my speedlite 430 EXII along with me although I knew I wouldn’t be able to fire it at the set during the show. Luckily I had f/2.8 lenses to help with the potential low-light levels. I also took along my business cards. It’s important to carry these with you everywhere!

If you want something bad enough, give something away first.
This assignment was great for me. I promised myself at the start of the year that I would try my best to expand my photographic horizons and delve further into photojournalism. A few weeks ago I got in touch with the local associate-editor and offered my services, free of charge. Yes, free of charge. Sometimes you just have to just to be given the chance to push yourself further. I’m looking at the bigger picture; I’m donating my time to cover local events and in the meantime I’m meeting lots of local people and getting plenty of opportunities to refine my photographic skills. Eventually this will all pay-off, at the very least I will have a ton of local historically poignant images to give to the world. But who knows where this will lead. It’s like the old saying goes; “you gotta be in it to win it.”

“I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.” -The Jerk(1979)
And here is the pay-off, front page of the local press!

[single_lightbox url=”” image_url=”” image_width=”670px” image_height=”500px” title=”Courier Press Front Page for Eagles heart and cancer telethon.”]

I was pretty impressed being on the front cover. I wouldn’t have chosen that particular image, but I’m not the editor. And… if that wasn’t enough I had a full page spread inside!

[single_lightbox url=”” image_url=”” image_width=”670px” image_height=”500px” title=”Inside of the Courier Press, full page for the Eagles heart and cancer telethon.”]

The benefits of shooting for your community.
After just one photojournalist gig the biggest thing I’ve learned is the importance of shooting local events and local people. People love to know what goes on in their community. Prairie du Chien is a very tight-knit community where news (and gossip) spreads fast and with the advent of facebook and the internet, coupled with publicity in the press, this weekend was huge for me. I had a 10% increase in page likes on facebook, I had engaged more users then ever before and the virality of the event photos was +40%; my highest ever.

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