5000 Words: Concepts in Photojournalism

Since I moved to Laramie several years ago, photography has become a hobby of mine.

My dad gave me his old wind-and-click SLR camera and a case full of lenses. Wal-Mart’s the only place in town where I can develop the film (UW doesn’t have a darkroom for students!), but I loved tinkering with the hardware and learning about the optics involved in taking pictures.

F-stops and focal points aside, photographing strangers made me aware of how fragile my ego really was. The feeling that I was doing something wrong, that I was being watched, or that I must seem like a total perv influenced every photo opportunity. When Saturday arrived, I regressed into the comfortable routine of shooting my friends during the course of a busy weekend in Colorado.

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Photo 1: Ninjas In Training (sports action)

As I walked past the Laramie Civic Center last week, I could hear a faint and recurring “Hi-yah!” echoing from inside, so I stepped in to get a few shots.  Walking in, I found close to 20 kids, ages 8 to 12, standing in crooked rows and shouting in rhythm to flailing jabs and kicks.  The few parents in the room were elderly Asian folks who smiled at me cautiously.  I smiled back and tried to maneuver myself to one side of the action to get some faces in the shots.  While some of my other shots captured more interesting facial expressions, I chose this photo because there is evidence of action and the kids’ gis, or robes, are separated.  In the other shots, my perspective was such that the dark outfits blended together, confusing the subjects.

Photo 2: Icons of the West

This photo features a sculpture in Old Town Fort Collins depicting the iconic bucking bronco so popular in Colorado.  What caught my eye, however, were the unusual scenes painted on the surface of the horse in what I saw as a mixture of the intricate detail of fine china and Central American decorative style.  I still can’t quite pin it down, which is what makes it interesting.  In the background, several locals complete the picture of a robust cowboy culture. This was probably my most comfortable photo to take because Old Town’s always full of tourists taking pictures.

Photo 3: Newlyweds

This photo, I admit, was a happy accident and the result of taking so many pictures of a wedding that your friends wish you hadn’t been invited. A long exposure gives the image energy, but it’s just another blurry night photo without a little emotion.  I wonder what newlyweds Tate and Jodi were discussing at that moment, but look they’re sharing is hardly a mystery.

Photo 4: Amid the Rubble

Walking to class one day, I noticed the old UW police department building being demolished. I had my digital camera on me, but I had some trouble finding anyone to include in the shot.  Many tons of debris were being cleared by just one back-hoe tractor, and no other workers could be seen within the fenced off area.  After a few minutes of jockeying for angles into the cab of the machine, the engine’s growl grew silent.  Time for a smoke break. Sure, cigarettes might kill this guy, but they made this shot possible.

Photo 5: Thank You, Drive Through

For this picture, I will give myself some credit. I timed the shot well, and I think I’ll submit the original to Arby’s for its next series of magazine ads.  I think the photo is well-framed, and I like that I can see the woman in the car ahead in her sideview mirror. Otherwise, it’s a snapshot of disembodied arms, which is almost always interesting.

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