Help me get into my school's photojournalism program!

redrabbit

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 8, 2006
320
0
Hi,

At my school, we have what is considered one of the best journalism schools in the country. After being admitted, students take two years of general journalism classes before choosing their specific sequence, such as magazine, news-ed, photoj, broadcast, advertising, etc. That time is approaching for me and I want to apply for "Convergence" which is sort of all of the programs combined together, with a large focus on online journalism. Out of all the journalism sequences, this one is the most selective, about 20 students a semester. The general application includes essays and all that, but the professor hinted that if I attached additional media, such as photos of mine, it would help my evaluation. The question is, how should I do this? My friend suggested I go all out and get a professionally printed matte book made with my best photos, but I think that's a bit over-the-top. Right now I'm thinking one of the three options:

1) Upload the photos to a web gallery generated by Aperture to my school's alloted webspace they give me and attach that url to application.

Pros: Easy, fast, cheap, and convienent
Cons: Professors might not look at all the photos, or any of them at all, possible technical errors

2) Print my few best photos all on a sheet or two

Pros: Organized, easy to look at and overview
Cons: Smaller, harder to observe details on smaller photos

3) Get a few of my best photos printed on individual 5x7/4x6 prints

Pros: Better prints
Cons: Might annoy professors

I am VERY open to any other ideas you guys might have in presenting my photos to the j-school. Any suggestions are very much appreciated!

My next question is, how many photos? I've narrowed down my favorites to about 60 photos :eek: so how many would you think would be a good number? (I guess it depends on which of the above methods I choose)

And finally, WHICH photos should I choose?!

Well, I've narrowed it down to 60. Here they are:

http://picasaweb.google.com/redrabbit12088/SequenceApplication02

Which ones do you like? I would love any feedback and suggestions on your picks.

Thank you ahead of time for all your help! My fingers are crossed
 

zblaxberg

Guest
Jan 22, 2007
875
0
I would just send a buncha 5/7 prints. I too am trying to get into a school of media arts and design and you just gotta suck up as much as possible and have a high gpa. However I think my program at james madison univ is going to be easier to get into...
 

Lovesong

macrumors 65816
To present photos the right way, get a real portfolio and have them printed at 8x10, enclose them with your essays.

You want to show diversity and flexibility. 15 pictures of the same subject is tedious to look at. I'd say no more than 10 or 12.

Frankly some of your pictures are really good, and I don't see them being the reason you wouldn't get in. Just remember that you want to show off the picture. A 5x7 doesn't quite cut it, and website is way too informal.

Out of you pictures I liked 39, 35, 40, 61, 55, 5, 7, 48, and 49. You're looking for pictures that tell stories- hence photoj. Nice shots, by the way.
 

pdxflint

macrumors 68020
Aug 25, 2006
2,407
14
Oregon coast
I agree with lovesong - buy a decent portfolio binder, and print up 10 or so of your best shots 8x10, and by that I'm referring to ones that tell a story more than just pretty photos. Write good explanatory captions for each photo showing you have an aptitude for communicating. It is a journalism program in the end, right? You have to decide how much it means to you to make the right impression, but if you really want it, it's foolish to skimp. Plus, when those in the position to make the decisions about who gets in and who doesn't, they'll probably be reviewing all the "packages" right in front of them, not surfing some website. Having said that, I'd also do the online gallery where I could display more, since that's definitely how to reach a broader audience much quicker and would fit with the "convergence" track, but I wouldn't rely on it for the admissions process. Cover your bases. Some things still work the old way, I believe. Good luck with your application.
 

Doylem

macrumors 68040
Dec 30, 2006
3,858
3,640
Wherever I hang my hat...
However you choose to display your photos, just make sure that whoever reviews them goes "Wow!", not "Huh?" Good pix will 'leap off' a printed page, or portfolio book or website. 'Frame' them to draw attention to the pix... and not the frames. Good presentation is part of pro photograhy, as is the ability to edit your own work. So just show the very best (even one second-rate shot will 'dilute' the strength of a portfolio). Good luck...
 

rlandrigan

macrumors newbie
Jun 21, 2002
15
0
If you really want to make an impact, layout a photo essay and attach with your application. A bunch of loose prints will get trashed, a url forgotten, and a big portfolio book tossed.

It's journalism - a quick, polished, focused photo essay with killer shots and clean layout will sell you better than anything else. Have an online component too - after all, you're pushing for the Convergence option, so build an online version with more features - additional photos, etc. Heck, if you think you can pull it off, design a feature about you - why your vision is unique, why your work is compelling, and what you bring to the craft. use your best shot to illustrate why you deserve one of those 20 slots.

The truly ballsy way to apply is to integrate the entirety of the application into a insert style color piece - complete with online supplement.

You're selling yourself here - anything less than all out will be noticed by the profs.
 

pdxflint

macrumors 68020
Aug 25, 2006
2,407
14
Oregon coast
If you really want to make an impact, layout a photo essay and attach with your application...

It's journalism - a quick, polished, focused photo essay with killer shots and clean layout will sell you better than anything else. Have an online component too - after all, you're pushing for the Convergence option, so build an online version with more features - additional photos, etc. Heck, if you think you can pull it off, design a feature about you - why your vision is unique, why your work is compelling, and what you bring to the craft. use your best shot to illustrate why you deserve one of those 20 slots.

You're selling yourself here - anything less than all out will be noticed by the profs.
I agree completely - great idea on the photo essay/layout. If you have suitable software to do this for print (Quark, etc) you can display numerous skills - page and photo composition/balance, writing, editing, and more. If necessary, go out and create an assignment for yourself as if you were on a story for a magazine or newspaper. Design for either one (look at and study good designs and bad ones...)

An interesting link here on the subject of "convergence" from the National Press Photographers Association site.

Finally, if you get the time, take a look at this link - it has great contemporary photojournalism winners to review, and learn from.

Or just go to http://www.nppa.org and explore. It's a great resource
 

MacUserSince87

macrumors member
Aug 18, 2007
74
0
Northern Virginia, USA
First the photos... There are some very effective shots there but others which aren't very effective. People photos are all about eye contact. That's what evokes the emotional reaction in the mind of the viewer. If there is no light on the face and eyes eye contact is difficult. So I'd suggest you start by trimming the portfolio in half, then take another critical look and cut it half again to find the best 12 or so you can create a story layout with a theme instead of just presenting a random set of shots.

Cinema has a very effective framework for telling a story visually which also is a good format for telling a story in stills: wide shots which establish the scene, followed by medium shots to reveal the actors in the scene, then close-ups from different points of view to reveal the action. You've got some nice wide shots of city and medium shots of the street scenes, but not any close-ups revealing the action. So you might want to review your shots, perhaps crop some tighter close-up of hands, faces,etc. and then construct a story layout which has that kind of visual flow to it.

As for presentation I'd suggest submitting both a print brochure format and creating the same content as a web site burned on a CD attached to back cover. The selection commitee might not take the time to even look at the CD web site in the first round of eliminating candidates, when it gets down to making the final selections they will likely take the time or at least appreciate the effort put into the presentation.

Chuck Gardner
 

MacUserSince87

macrumors member
Aug 18, 2007
74
0
Northern Virginia, USA
While I would agree that people photos are about eye contact, there is so much to be said by NOT having it as well.

True. There are no rules, just cause and effect.

Many of the OPs photos which were frontal views showing the faces the faces were hidden in shadows and overpowered by brighter distracting areas. My point, in the context of his portfolio, was simply that if you show a face in a photo put good lighting on it if you want the viewer to make an emotional connection to the person. But the opposite cause and effect is also true; if you want to convey the person as detached or avoiding contract then shooting their back is an effective way to deliver that message.

What is the intended message in your photo? Lonely beach or lonely guy?

In your photo we can't see his face and thus can't tell if he's happy, sad, etc. Maybe he lost his job, his wife and his dog and is depressed. But on the other hand maybe he just won the lottery and is whistling a happy tune on the way to his new yacht. Hard to tell because we can't see his face and gauge his emotional state. As a result is the emotional reaction of the viewer going to be more to the scene - i.e., lonely isolated beach - than the person and the person? I see the guy as more a foreground "prop" to frame the scene and clue the viewer which way to look rather than the focal point of the photo because when looking at it you quickly go past the guy to see what's down the beach.
 

Lovesong

macrumors 65816
While I would agree that people photos are about eye contact, there is so much to be said by NOT having it as well.

True. There are no rules, just cause and effect.

Many of the OPs photos which were frontal views showing the faces the faces were hidden in shadows and overpowered by brighter distracting areas. My point, in the context of his portfolio, was simply that if you show a face in a photo put good lighting on it if you want the viewer to make an emotional connection to the person. But the opposite cause and effect is also true; if you want to convey the person as detached or avoiding contract then shooting their back is an effective way to deliver that message.

What is the intended message in your photo? Lonely beach or lonely guy?

In your photo we can't see his face and thus can't tell if he's happy, sad, etc. Maybe he lost his job, his wife and his dog and is depressed. But on the other hand maybe he just won the lottery and is whistling a happy tune on the way to his new yacht. Hard to tell because we can't see his face and gauge his emotional state. As a result is the emotional reaction of the viewer going to be more to the scene - i.e., lonely isolated beach - than the person and the person? I see the guy as more a foreground "prop" to frame the scene and clue the viewer which way to look rather than the focal point of the photo because when looking at it you quickly go past the guy to see what's down the beach.
I think that in this particular instance the lack of a face on the person (in this case my GF), only adds to the beach. The sense of the image is awe. I doubt many people will perceive this in any other way... unless you're trying to be hypothetical, and then maybe. The girl in the foreground is not a "prop." She is the emotional tie to the beauty that the landscape presents.

BTW- this is Second Beach in Olympic national park- one of the most famous and beautiful beaches, maybe in the entire world.
 

pdxflint

macrumors 68020
Aug 25, 2006
2,407
14
Oregon coast
On the issue of eye contact, it all depends on the "story" behind the picture, and whether it's photojournalism, portraiture, landscape, etc... but clearly I agree that in a news picture where a subject person's face is in the frame, it should be naturally well lit. But the issue of "eye contact" is really not that simple, since there is a distinction between "set-up" shots and "you are there" shots of the real world. Is it hard news, or is it softer, feature-style news, etc., etc. Anyway, it's an interesting subject...

examples of "no eye contact" which work for me:



folks observing funeral procession below them on freeway...


Unser and Penske discussing problem with car (caption would explain context)


Kids hanging on street corner (subject of story where city was debating new ordinance on this issue)


mother with cancer and young son (newspaper story of survival)


Exhausted fireman immediately after removing headgear...


Eye contact (feature story... portrait style environmental shot)


Anyway, just thought giving some examples might help further this discussion and add to the OP's feedback.
 

yetieater

macrumors regular
May 6, 2007
136
0
USA
Random question: Are you a student at SAS? I saw a couple of pictures taken in Shanghai. Where was picture #32 (two men fighting) taken? Inner Mongolia?

Edit: Score! Right on both counts. I just looked at your Flickr.

If you're still in China at this point, I'd suggest you just print out your best pictures. Local print shops are pretty cheap.
 

pdxflint

macrumors 68020
Aug 25, 2006
2,407
14
Oregon coast
Of the pictures in your gallery that you are trying to whittle down, the ones I like are as follows:

1
15 cropped tighter
17 maybe a bit tighter, adjust contrast, I like the "rim" lighting
19
33 post process for better contrast, maybe add some sharpness (if it's there)
35 same as above
37 decent character sketch
38 describes environment fairly well
41 borderline... but nice exposure on the neon lights - not too photojournalistic
49 could work in a feature story package... adjust contrast
56
58 another character study... play with contrast, etc...
61 I just like the mood, and overall big picture of this one... sharpness might get you here, though...

All in all, those are my pics, but don't hesitate to go out and take on a "new" assignment for yourself to maybe add some others if you have time...

Good luck with your efforts, and I hope you get your spot in the program.
 

redrabbit

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 8, 2006
320
0
Thank you to everyone (and "andy" who posted in my picasa comments, I tried to email you to say thank you but could not find any contact info) for your suggestions, advice, and constructive critcism! I learned way more from this thread than I initially expected to and will heed much of it in both the application to the photoj program and in my photography.