Monthly Archives: March 2010

What inspires you?

As winter term comes to a close and graduation moves ever closer, many seniors (including this one) are starting to worry about what is next.  Graduate school? An internship? Unemployment?

The future is uncertain and all of us are in need of a little encouragement and hope.

On Wednesday evening, Mike Posner, an up and coming musician, asked this of his Facebook friends and Twitter followers: “What inspires you?”

Many replied with “music” or “friends.” But I have to agree with what nearly half of the people responded – “you,” that is, Posner himself. His story gives inspiration and hope to me and many other undergraduates.

In 2009, Posner released two mixtapes and signed a record deal while completing his undergraduate degree at Duke University, and all before reaching age 22.  His immediate success is undeniable.

The first I heard of Posner was New Years Eve when I attended his concert in West Hollywood.  My friends had run across his free mixtapes through word of mouth on the internet and insisted that I had to come with them to the concert.  As a little teaser to what I was about to witness live, they introduced me to this song: “Mirrors Edge”. I was not disappointed.  And I hope you weren’t either.

But it is not the speed of his success that makes him so inspirational, it is the story behind it.  Posner accomplished his dreams during the time we were all being educated about what ours might be.  He produced the majority of his songs in his dorm room. He used the internet and social networking to gain recognition. He coordinated with other artists such as Kid Cudi, Clinton Sparks, and Big Sean. And he worked continually on his music and schooling, even after getting signed a record deal. He is a prime example of how hard work ethic can help you accomplish even the most daunting of dreams.

Perez Hilton captures Posner’s story best:  “Chatting With… Mike Posner”

Success stories such as Posner’s make me hopeful for whatever is to come in my own future. And it gives me motivation and inspiration to work as hard as I can to get what I want out of my career, relationships, and life in general.

So now ask yourself, what inspires you?

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It’s a Balancing Act

Technology has become the backbone of creative journalism.

Besides the written word, photographs, audio, video, animation and so many other forms of expression are readily available for those who are willing to manipulate them.  The creative possibilities are endless.

The tricky part, however, is figuring out which form(s) will best tell your story.  Video footage? A written article plus one or two choice photographs? A photo essay?

One combination that is underused is the audio slide show.  Still photographs combined with captions and audio clips can actually convey a story with much visual and audio appeal – if it is done right.  (My current photojournalism assignment requires me to make such a slide show, so I have come to appreciate the style.)

People often pass over slide shows in favor of video, and in most cases, this is a good choice.  However, there are times where the scene/event/story is too slow or spread out to provide captivating video footage but can provide intriguing photographs.  Great photo essays are born from such situations.

Journalists rarely think to add audio to the photo essay, preferring to rely on the captions to provide any detail the photographs may leave out.  What these journalists have neglected to consider, however, is the impact that audio can have on the audience.  Audio just adds another level of personality and emotion to a photo essay.

The example provided below (though not as riveting as others I have seen) shows how audio can add to the photos.  The first time you view it, turn the sound off and just rely on the captions and photos to tell the story. Then the second time, turn the sound back on and watch it again.  Which viewing holds your attention better?

If the second viewing was more enjoyable, then the producer did his job.

Journalism is a balancing act of sense appeal.  One in which you have to ask yourself which media form will most successfully portray the story?  Do the pictures speak for themselves? Will audio improve or impede the overall viewing experience for the audience? Would video footage portray the story better? Or would a simple print article suffice?

Test it out, try different combinations.  Explore the creative possibilities that technology has provided us storytellers.

More examples of good audio slide shows:
Guitar Lessons at the Central Area Senior Center from the Seattle Times.
Picture the Homeless Chasing Chase from Housing is a Human Right on Vimeo.

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