Photographing Bittersweet Farms

Last week, we as a class, traveled to Bittersweet Farms in Whitehouse, Ohio to gather various forms of multimedia with the intentions to tell the story of how this small farm makes a big difference in their community.  Bittersweet Farms provides a place for autistic adults to work alongside caring providers and have a camaraderie and life experiences they may not have without being on the farm.  I truly appreciate the opportunity to witness the beautiful things that are taking place there on a typical day.

For my portion of the assignment, I was required to shoot the agriculture portion of the farm.  They had multiple greenhouses, a garden, food preparation building and a wood shop. I personally spent time in each portion of the agricultural section taking pictures of what an average day on the farm is like.

For me, the most challenging part was having my camera ready for anything in every direction. It was extremely difficult to keep my exposures in check when I didn’t have an advanced warning of an impending portrait. Another challenge that I faced was that for every portrait I had to make sure I wrote down their name and title to include in a caption.

All in all, it was a great experience from start to finish. 


Clay Parento

Over the last month we, as a storytelling class, learned some of the ins and outs of what it is like to be a real podcaster. We learned how to develop a worthy topic, create the script, record the interview, and fully edit sound files in Audacity. Along with the traditional teachings in a classroom setting we, as a group traveled far and wide to learn from seasoned professionals. We spent four days at the CMA convention in Atlanta, Georgia and toured the WTOL public broadcasting station in Toledo, Ohio. After absorbing so many good pointers from experienced story tellers, I was pumped to get my voice heard as well.

The topic I chose was based on the social divide we, as a country, have experienced in the days after the election. This particular topic is something that I feel strongly about, so the pre-visualization was a breeze. Next in the process, I had to find the right someone for the interview. Ideally, I wanted someone who would be comfortable speaking, someone respected within the Owens community and someone who has military background. Luckily my first choice, Clay Parento, was happy to help with my assignment. I jumped on the opportunity and quickly scheduled time to sit down with him. Before we began, I allowed him to look over the script to ensure that he felt comfortable with the questions I intended to ask. Clay had no major objections, so we turned on the recorder and went to work. The entire interview went along without a hitch and I felt satisfied that I had plenty of raw material to work with.

For me, the editing process was by far the most difficult of the many tasks. I am not a natural tech savvy person, so I really had to work hard to figure out how to pull it all together. Working in Audacity, was one of the easiest programs that I have stumbled through, at least at first. I uploaded the interview, no problem, edited out the “Ums” and long silences like a pro. Truthfully, I was pretty pleased with myself, until I took my assignment from the Owens’ Apple computers and brought it home to finalize it on my PC. I, somehow, managed to offended the program when I switched computers. I only had a few simple tasks left to complete, add the intro, credits and the background music. Although my to do list was pretty strait forward, it took me most of the day failing miserably. I struggled to find royalty free music that didn’t have obnoxious advertisements in-bedded within the file. I recorded the intro the same way I recorded the interview, but for some reason, Audacity refused to upload the new content because it was not in the proper format. Apparently, the only way to upload that particular format is on an Apple computer, one I do not have. After spending the day in sheer frustration I finally accomplished one additional portion of my podcast, the background music.

Through all my stumbling around this assignment, I did not leave empty handed. I learned some very valuable lessons in the process of interviewing someone and how to turn that interview into a podcast so we can all enjoy it.  

Music provided by Free Music Archive:

National College Media Convention 2016

Owens Community College sent our entire visual storytelling class to Atlanta, Georgia for four days to attend this amazing conference. Professionals and students from far and wide came together to share their knowledge and experience in the photojournalism world. I was very impressed with how well this convention was put together and how many different topics being discussed.

Do Your Own Serial: The Case of AJC’s “Breakdown”:   Bert Roughton and Richard Halicks Atlanta Journal Constitution

Burt and Richard shared with us their experiences with transitioning their news presentations to also include pod casting. They chose to report on Adnan Masud Syed murder conviction in 2000. The series covering this story was fourteen episodes in length and brought enough attention to the injustice that the courts reopened the case.

What Makes a Good Student Podcast?:   Chris Thomas Lyons Township High School (WLTL Radio) and Tyler Moody CNN Newssource

Chris and Tyler shared how to put together a new podcast and how to get it to the masses. Some of the tools they shared included finding the right topics, making sure that the background is not full of static and how to share your stories with the world.

Should I Take It and Should We Run It?: The Ethics of Photojournalism:   Bill Roa: Perimeter College (Georgia State University)

Bill spoke about the ethics of photojournalism and some of the emotional dilemmas of being a photojournalist. There are some situations that needs finesse while the camera is out. He suggested that the photographer should consider the audience as well as the subject of interest before publishing a graphic shot.

What Goes Where in the Frame?: A Lesson on Photo Composition:   Michael Schwarz: Freelance photographer and videographer

Composition is key to making or breaking a photo. With that in mind Michael showed us how to properly compose an image with a tight shot.

Chicken Salad 1: Suck Much Less Much Faster:   Michael Koretzky: SPJ National Board

Michael taught us about what it is like to be an editor under pressure and how to pull it all off in limited time. He showed us, using real student newspapers, how to keep the brilliance without over thinking.

Editor-in-Grief 3: Fear and Chaos:   Michael Koretzky: SPF National Board

During the seminar he shared his experience of what it was like dealing with issues he experienced as a college instructor. There was a situation where one of the stories that was published in the school newspaper that contradicted what the school wanted the public to know. The entire story was fascinating and really focused on not backing down when there is a story that needs to be told.

Make Your Social Media Page Stand Out in Crowded Field:   Will Goodman: “Rockets Are Cool”

These days practically everyone is on one form of social media or another, this seminar taught how to maximize effectiveness when competing against so many others. We learned why it is important to separate your private life from your personal life while using social media as a tool.

I’m Sorry, Is MY Personality Getting in the Way:   Adrianne Harris: Roger Williams University

Personalities come in all shapes and sizes, Adrianne explained each of the four main personality types, what their strengths and weaknesses are, how they communicate with others and how they may be perceived by other personalities. Learning about how to interact with different personalities is something that is very important in both your personal and professional life.

It’s a Dark World, Light It Up:   Mark Johnson: University of Georgia

Lighting conditions effect every photograph taken, Mark discussed how to trouble shoot some of the worst lighting conditions. He showed examples of the difference an external flash can make in these tricky situations.

Score Your First Job. Then Learn How to Do It.:   Chris Baxter: NJ Advance Media

We learned skills on how to present ourselves to potential employers, land our first reporting job and how to be viewed as the right choice to our colleagues. Chris explained how online work profiles are necessary and making sure that what you want your future employer to see is what is showing up on Google searches.

Finding Your Niche: How to Make Your Blog Stand Out:   Catherine Lee:, Gavin Godfrey: CNN

Standing out in a sea of blogs it is imperative that you find a way to make it your own. They discussed some ideas on how to make small changes that will gain big attention to what you have to say.

Get Out of That Bubble: Picking Up Internships and Study Programs (Even in the Middle of Nowhere):   Terry Mattingly: The King’s College (NYC)

College educations are very important, but first hand experience is what is most important out in the real world. Terry explained how to find portfolio building internships, even if you live in a small community, like myself. Having credible experience is key to getting recognized in such a limited opportunity field, such as this.

DOUBLE SESSION: Premiere: an Advanced Tutorial:   Gregg Stickels: CNN

Adobe Premiere is becoming an industry standard with photo editing tools. We learned some of the tricks and shortcuts to the program and Gregg explained how he personally prefers it to other programs on the market.

Keynote Speakers:   Tom Luse: The Walking Dead Randy Havens: Stranger Things and Catch Fire, Scott Tigchelaar: Riverwood Studios, Inc.

They spoke about how film industry grew in Georgia and how important being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference. I am not personally a Walking Dead fan, but it was intriguing to learn how they pulled it off.

During the conference I met many wonderful people and picked up many great tips to try. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to go and would like to attend more conferences in the future.

What the Heck is a Feature Photo


Before I even begin to tell the story of where I went and what I shot, lets get a brief, and boring, description out in the open. A feature photo is basically photography taken with the intent to tell a story.

Where I took my Camera

I chose to shoot students practicing the Owens Community College’s rehearsal of Romeo and Juliette and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in Toledo Ohio, where VP, Biden, was speaking at the public library.

What I Learned from my Experience

Being that the two places I chose were polar opposites, I learned different tidbits of information from each of them. The main technical differences between the two were the lighting conditions and subject matter.

The rehearsal was shoot in doors, with stage lighting and the subjects were moving around the stage. Having moving subjects with drastic changes in the light source was challenging. I had to anticipate where I should be, where the actors were going, focus on compositions and proper exposure at the same time.

The campaign, on the other hand, was shot out doors in bright sunlight, with subjects that remained relatively stationary. The better lighting was nice to have, but the subject matter didn’t offer much of a wow factor. I decided that instead of shooting the guest speakers, like every journalist there, wanted to document what, my teacher, Lori King and the other “real” members of the press were up to. My college issue press pass, surprisingly, landed me a spot right next to all the professionals. I was surrounded by all of the behind the scenes folks from photographers to reporters. I learned a ton about what really goes on behind the scenes and what it’s like for the hardworking journalists trying to get the scoop. To my surprise, the media did not have the kind of pull at events that I thought they would. We were not allowed to get too close, in fact, not allowed to be anywhere but in the provided bleachers located in the very back. In my mind, I assumed that the press was the top dogs at these events, flashing their badge and going where no spectator would dream to go. I was way off in my romanticized version of what it is like to be a member of the press. The security there had no humor for rouge photographers, like myself, venturing off their designated area.

The First Amendment

Amendment I

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.

The first amendment is a very important part of what makes us free in the United States. The freedom to speak up, the ability to inform others and the right to say “oh hell no” if our government gets out of line. Without these particular rights we, as the people, could be silenced and easily controlled in a repressive government. That type of government is why many cultures packed up and relocated their lives here in the United States.

As a photojournalism student, and a photographer, I depend on the first amendment to protect me, and my work, from scrutiny and in extreme circumstances prosecution. With this umbrella, I am within my rights to document and distribute to the public what I see, as long as it does not interfere with another’s rights.

The first amendment may protect my right to document the truth, it does not protect me if I am imposing on another person’s right to privacy as an United States citizen. For instance, I may have a notion that our president is a crook, but it would be unlawful to hide in his bushes and take pictures through his living room window to prove it.

In closing, the first amendment protects us as individuals and allows us to be involved with what is going on in our country. In my opinion, it happens to be the first of many because of how important these freedoms really are to us United States citizens.