News Archive

ASMP Foundation Extends Grant Application Deadline

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The American Society of Media Photographers Foundation has extended its spring deadline for grant applications until June 15, ASMP director of communications Peter Dyson announced. “If you have a project that fits the Foundation's guidelines, you are invited to submit a proposal. The guidelines, along with application forms and descriptions of past awards, are posted online,” Dyson wrote. The information is online at

Dyson said, “The ASMP Foundation's mission is to support the education of ASMP members and the creative community to which they belong. Its goal is to encourage the professional and artistic growth of photographers. Although the Foundation cannot usually offer total funding for any given program, its grants of up to $1,500 can, in conjunction with other funding sources, be instrumental in promoting worthy projects.” Examples of winning grants are on the Web page including Spring 2005's winners and last year's grant recipients.

The ASMP Foundation Grants Committee evaluates applications two times each year. Applicants will be notified within 60 days if their application has been accepted or rejected. ASMP says that all grant decisions are made on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information contact ASMP’s executive director Eugene Mopsik at +1.215.451.2767 or eMail him at [email protected].


Proposed NYC Subway Photo Ban Is Dead; Photo Ban In Hempstead, Long Island, Is Rescinded

A New York City Transit proposal last year to make a rule change that would prohibit photography and videotaping in subways and bus systems, which was strongly opposed by the NPPA and many other photography, press, civil rights, and free speech groups, is now dead, and a 12-year-old ban on photography on public beaches and parks in the Town of Hempstead, Long Island, has been overturned.

After a long period of public comment, the Metropolitan Transit Authority did not vote on the measure to ban photography on New York City buses and in the subways. An upcoming hearing on the proposal was scheduled, but now that the measure has been dropped the hearing is moot.

“In the wake of the public comments period, after consulting with the New York Police Department, which had originally requested the rule change, MTA NYC Transit will not go forward with the institution of a photo ban,” Transit Authority spokesperson Charles Seaton told The New York Daily News on May 22. In the same story The News also quotes NYPD deputy commissioner Paul Browne who says, “We are not pressing for a ban. Our officers will continue to investigate, and intercede if necessary, if the activity – photo-related or not – is suspicious.”

“This is truly a victory for photojournalism, and we must continue our efforts on issues like these to protect our freedoms and First Amendment rights,” NPPA president Bob Gould said in response to the news. “Thanks to Todd Maisel and everyone else who worked to oppose this proposal for their persistence in this matter.”

Last summer, NPPA member photojournalists took part in a protest in the subway by shooting photographs of each other alongside members of the New York Public Interest Group and The Straphangers Campaign inside one of the subway stations. NPPA’s Region 2, which includes New York City and is led by director Harry Diorio and associate director Maisel, had planned to hold a press conference with other organizations who opposed the photography ban in front of the MTA headquarters before any vote could be taken, but that’s no longer necessary now.

“We want to thank Kurt Wimmer and Amy Levine of the law firm Covington and Burling for the enormous amount of work that they did on our behalf,” said NPPA vice president and chairperson of the organization’s Advocacy Committee Alicia Wagner Calzada. “They filed an extensive legal brief to the MTA on behalf of the NPPA, which clearly laid out all of our legal arguments for why the ban was unconstitutional.”

“NPPA pursued this proposed subway ban from many angles with public statements, legal comments, a call to members to submit their own comments, a public protest, news articles, cooperative efforts with other groups, and plans to be there in person for the vote,” Calzada wrote to the Board. “It may seem like a lot of effort for one city, but we really believed that this case would be looked at throughout the nation and that other cities would follow the lead of what happened in New York City.”

Maisel wrote, “Also coming to our aid was the New York Press Photographers Association, the National Press Club, the New York Civil Liberties Union, ASMP and PPA. We also thank the many camera clubs throughout New York State who pledged their support and sent letters to the MTA condemning the ban. We thank the thousands of opponents of the ban for signing our petitions, sending letters, and commenting during the MTA 90-day public comment period that was dubiously launched during the holidays to minimize reaction. The MTA, however, found that despite the holidays, they received thousands of angry comments against the ban. It also resulted in Mayor Mike Bloomberg condemning the proposal and the New York City Police Department disavowing the plan.”

“NPPA Region 2 director Diorio said this victory will help in efforts against other censorship proposals,” Maisel told the NPPA Board of Directors, “including one that has already been started in the Town of Hempstead Long Island, NY, where officials there, despite not having a law, had banned photography in public parks and on beaches.”

Maisel reported to the Board, "After taking blistering criticism from the NPPA, the Town of Hempstead rescinded a ban on photography at their public beaches and parks that had been made policy by their Parks Department more than 12 years ago. Hepstead Town Supervisor Kate Murry acted quickly to correct the unconstitutional policy that was originally created because some residents were concerned about unauthorized photography of their children. Town officials now realize the ban was not supportable by law, and they could not make a ban on photography in public places where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy."

The story of Hempstead's ban came to light last week, Maisel said, when Joseph Senzatimore, 59, of Bellmore, NY, a member of the Wantagh Camera Club in Long Island, was taking his Nikon and tripod out of his car at Lido Beach, a public park, when he was stopped by park employees. He was told photography on the beach was illegal and could end in arrest. Maisel said Senzatimore contacted attorney Bill Balletti, a long-time friend of photographers in the city, which "set off a flurry of calls to NPPA." New York Daily News reporter Richard Weir did a story about Senzatimore and the photography ban, and "the ball was in motion," Maisel said.

Region 2's leaders and photographers started calling Hempstead authorites requesting written copies of the law and demanding the rule be rescinded. Soon Murray ordered the Parks Department to rescind the ban, giving photographers complete access to public areas.

"NPPA thanks the New York Daily News for putting a story together that brought the illegal ban to the public's attention," Maisel wrote to the Board, "and thanks Region 2 and NPPA vice president Alicia Wagner Calzado for her research that revealed there was no law in Hempstead codes to back up the ban."

Related story


DeVigal And Judging Panel Launch New Online Multimedia Critique Of 2005 BOP Web Winners

AUSTIN, TX -- Andrew DeVigal, one of the five judges of the 2005 Best Of Photojournalism Best Of The Web contest, has created an important educational resource drawn from the contest judging and the entries. Recorded audio comments from the judges, synchronized with images from dozens of Web sites that they are reviewing, have been compiled into an interactive online presentation that can be seen here.

DeVigal, with the help of the other judges, spent many hours building this presentation and it’s an outstanding resource that starts with an overview and audio comments from the panel of judges, then expands into an examination of new media documentary work, how audio is used in multimedia, design templates that have become more sophisticated on the Web, image use and image counts, their favorite sites, and how Web new media applies to education. There’s also a section they call “surprises.”

Viewers can watch the presentation online or download the full audio podcast, and there are links to the Web editing winners that the judges discuss.

In addition to DeVigal, the founder of DeVigal Design who also teaches at San Francisco State University, the panel of Web judges included Dan Habib of The Concord Monitor;Shawn Greene, multimedia projects editor for The Miami Herald; Keith Jenkins, who is now the new photography editor for The Washington Post; and Maria Bunai, picture editor for

Comments, feedback, and appreciations can be directed to DeVigal at [email protected].


Photojournalist Bradley Clift Released From Sudan, Tells Story Of Ordeal, Refugees, In Hartford Courant

The Hartford Courant's photojournalist Bradley E. Clift was released by Sudanese government authorities last week after being held under house arrest near Nyala in Darfur since April 26, and he made his way to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum and then flew home to the States. The story of Clift's ordeal and what the photojournalist saw in the refugee camps has been written by Courant reporter Rinker Buck and published in the newspaper.

"Close-Up Of A Humanitarian Crisis" tells how the Sudanese government has gone to great lengths to keep the world from seeing the condition of up to as many as 2 million people who have been displaced and terrorized by the government-supported militia in Darfur, and it documents Clift's first-person account of being arrested while documenting the efforts of international relief workers to help refugees.

Clift, 47, was arrested by Sudanese security forces was being held while waiting for a hearing on charges that he was taking pictures in Darfur without the proper travel and photography permits, the Courant reported last week .

Authorities apparently decided not to formally charge Clift and he was released Tuesday May 10, and his passport and photography equipment was returned to him before he left for Khartoum. Two weeks ago Clift told State Department officials that he traveled to Darful legally under the auspices of the Sudanese Bishops' Conference to photograph relief workers assisting refugees. After Clift was arrested, theCourant also had reported that Clift traveled to Africa to meet up with a relief group from the Hartford Catholic Worker, a ministry that was distributing food at refugee camps in Western Darfur, near the town of Nyala.

An NPPA member since 1978, Clift was working as a freelance photojournalist documenting the plight of the refugees in Sudan when he was detained and placed under house arrest by Sudanese security forces in Darfur. The Courant's assistant managing editor for photography and graphics, Thom McGuire, said after Clift was detained that the photojournalist had traveled to Darfur as a freelancer after the newspaper considered, and then decided against, an assignment in the region that’s been brutalized by civil war for more than two years.

Clift was a nominated finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature photography in 2003 for “Heroin Town,” a dramatic photographic essay that helped produce positive change by spotlighting heroin addiction in a Connecticut city . In 1987, he won an honorable mention in the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards program for a Courant series called "Stevie's World of Pride." Clift has won many national and international photography awards, and is known for traveling to international hot spots and documenting the plights of war victims and refugees.


Bill Eppridge To Be The Keynote Speaker At Missouri's Journalism School Graduation

COLUMBIA, MO - Legendary photojournalist Bill Eppridge will be the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s graduation speaker on Friday May 13 at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, MO, as 406 students receive their degrees. In this year’s Journalism School graduating class, 20 of the candidates studied photojournalism.

Known best for his career at Life magazine from 1964 until the magazine closed in 1972, and currently a staff photographer for Sports Illustrated, Eppridge graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Missouri in 1960 where three times he was the “MU Photographer of the Year” and twice the NPPA College Photographer of the Year.

"It's a real honor to have Bill Eppridge return to Missouri as commencement speaker for the School of Journalism," said David Rees, one of the school's associate professors who is also director of Pictures of the Year International and co-director of the Missouri Photo Workshop. "His career has epitomized the aggressive documentary photojournalism encouraged by his mentor, Cliff Edom. Bill's photographs have not only borne witness to significant events in our time, but have done so with eloquence."

“It seems only yesterday that I was in the same situation as these kids who are on their way out to try to save the world,” Eppridge told News Photographer magazine just a week before the commencement. “I really hope there is another (Bob) Woodward or (Carl) Bernstein or (John) Filo or (Eddie) Adams among them. We need them again ... now.

“Returning to Missouri after 45 years brings me back to what seems like a much quieter time. I do not believe any of us ever dreamed of the nasty things that were eventually to happen. There was Panama, Santo Domingo, Nicaragua, Vietnam and My Lai, Cheney, Schwerner, Goodman and Mississippi burning, the assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, then Robert Kennedy. Now it's the Middle East and the same situations exist that the French and British and Russians faced, and lost.

“Going back to speak to these graduates I feel like I've seen much more than I thought I would, and become much more involved than I ever dreamed. All I ever wanted to do was to change a few minds. Maybe – in some small way – I did that.”

Many believe Eppridge’s landmark photographs came from his photographic coverage of Robert F. Kennedy and the Senator’s assassination in 1968, yet his photographs range from the Vietnam war, to revolutions in Santo Domingo and Panama, to The Beatles and environmental stories like the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. His photographs have been published in National Geographic, Paris Match, Stern, The New York Times Magazine, and many other magazines and books.

(Editor's note: The photograph of Bill Eppridge above, taken by David Burnett, is a Polaroid. Burnett said,"I shot the picture of Bill in March after the Northern Short Course in Reston, VA. They spent the night with us. It was duelling Graflexes on the road in front of my house. There's no winner yet, just a draw! A couple of Polaroid imprefections still abide in the picture of Bill, but they make it look right!")


Milwaukee Photojournalist Dale Guldan, 51, Dies

Dale Guldan, 51, a staff photojournalist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, died Friday at his home in the Town of Brookfield, WI, the newspaper reported today. He died of a heart attack while exercising in the basement of his home.

Guldan was the Wisconsin News Photographer of the Year four years in row - in 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984. Only photojournalists Erwin Gebhard and Jim Gehrz won WNPA's top honor more often. He started at The Milwaukee Journal in 1977.

"Dale was one so vibrant who burned so brightly," said Patrick Murphy-Racey, a freelance photojournalist now based in Knoxville, TN, who worked with Guldan in Milwaukee during an internship in 1988. "He was the only guy I ever knew in newspapers that utterly refused to be consumed by them. He always rose above the common complaints found in almost every photography department and did his own creative work to the end. His devotion to his family was self evident to anyone who knew him."

After the December tsunami, Guldan traveled to Sri Lanka in March with a group of Wisconsin college wrestlers who formed a relief organization to help the disaster victims rebuild their lives.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce, and children Sam, 21, and Sarah, 18. Funeral arrangements are pending. 


Washington Post's duCille Returns To The Camera; Jenkins Named As The Post's New Photography Editor

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Michel duCille, 49, photography editor for The Washington Post since 1988, will be going back on the street as a senior photographer for the newspaper in June.

“For a very long time now I’ve been yearning to return to my first calling as a photojournalist,” duCille wrote in a message to the Post photography staff. “After years of editing, the urge to shoot again (always beneath the surface), is hard to ignore.”

“Relinquishing the passion to help edit your photos and to have an impact on your work in the newspaper is not easy. I often felt that I was your representative in the newsroom; I will miss being there for you. As an editor, I have always tried to keep the mind and eye of a photographer — trying not to forget your daily dilemmas. I hope that those memories will come in handy as I embark on new adventures,” duCille concluded. He’s been an NPPA member since 1981.

Joe Elbert, assistant managing editor for photography for The Washington Post, named Keith Jenkins(PhotoBlog), photography editor for The Washington Post Magazine, to succeed duCille. “Michel leaves an important role, but we are lucky to have the perfect successor in Keith,” Elbert wrote in the announcement.

“When I persuaded Michel to leave The Miami Herald and become a picture editor here at The Post, he’d just won his second Pulitzer,” Elbert said, “and I couldn’t believe I was asking him to hang up his cameras. Still, he agreed, thinking he would do it maybe three years and then return to shooting. I’m an incredibly lucky guy because he did it for 17 years.”

The first Pulitzer Prize for duCille was shared with fellow Miami Herald staff photojournalist Carol Guzy (now also at The Post) for their spot news coverage of the Nevado Del Ruiz volcano in Colombia in 1985, winning the Pulitzer in 1986. A second Pulitzer followed in 1988 for feature photography for a Tropic magazine photographic essay on crack cocaine addicts in a Miami housing project called “The Graveyard.” He credits his love of photography to his father, who worked as a newspaper reporter in Jamaica and the States. After graduating with a B.S. in journalism from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, duCille later earned a graduate degree in journalism from Ohio University in Athens, OH.

Clearly the urge to shoot has stayed with duCille even as he worked as an editor. In recent years he picked up a camera to cover the “Marsh Arabs” returning to their homes in southeastern Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein; the refugee crisis created by 14 years of civil war in Liberia; and an essay called “The Other War,” documenting the cruel and disfiguring aftermath of war suffered by the citizens of Sierra Leone as a result of their own civil battle, a conflict mostly unseen by the world because global attention was focused on the bloodshed in Kosovo.

"I feel incredibly blessed to have gone from one of the best magazine jobs in the country to one of the best newspaper jobs in the world," Jenkins told News Photographer magazine. "The Post is one of the few remaining families in an otherwise corporate journalism world. That helps make the work that we do here special, and makes it a pretty great place to work."

"I look forward to the challenge of following in the amazing path of Michel, as well as to helping the photography staff - many of whom I had the pleasure of working with at The Washington Post Magazine - chart a course for photojournalism into the 21st century."

Jenkins became a staff photographer at The Washington Post in 1992 after working as a freelance magazine photographer for publications such as U.S.News & World Report, Washingtonian, Entertainment Weekly, and The Washington Post Magazine. In 1996 he became the first director of photography for, and from 1997 to 1999 he was the first director of photography for American Online. He returned to the Post in 1999 to become photography editor of the Sunday Magazine.

Jenkins was also a staff photographer at The Boston Globe and has a law degree from Boston University. NPPA, the Society of Newspaper Design, and the Society of Professional Journalists have recognized his work as a photographer and photo editor. He’s been a workshop teacher at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and a portfolio of his photographs is in a permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.


New York Court Of Appeals Hears Arguments In Court TV v. State Of New York

By Mickey H. Osterreicher, Esq.

ALBANY, NY  – New York’s highest court heard oral arguments yesterday in a case involving cameras in the courtroom. David Boies, of the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, spoke before the New York Court of Appeals on behalf of Court TV in its ongoing legal battle to overturn the law barring audiovisual coverage in New York courts. “I’ve been waiting for this case to be heard for the last 10 years,” said Jonathan Sherman, one of the firm’s lead lawyers.

“The absolute categorical ban on cameras in the courtroom, under any circumstances, a ban that deprives the trial judge of the discretion to determine whether and to what extent television cameras should be permitted or prohibited, violates the New York state constitution,” said Boies, who served as the lead counsel for former Vice President Al Gore in connection with litigation before the Supreme Court relating to the election 2000 Florida vote count.

“Cameras capture information that you don’t get second hand,” Boies continued. “Cameras provide another means of newsgathering that has certain advantages. With respect to newsgathering, this court and the United States Supreme Court have held that it is not up to the Legislature to determine what forms of newsgathering will be permitted and which forms of newsgathering won’t be permitted.”

Solicitor General Caitlin Halligan spoke on behalf of the State of New York, countering that while the press may have the right to cover trials, that right does not extend to television which she said negatively affects the proceedings, citing previous studies during New York’s 10-year experiment with cameras in the courtroom (1987-1997). She also noted that eight federal circuit courts have found no constitutional right for televised courtroom coverage.

“The (U.S.) Supreme Court has said clearly that the right of access does not contain a constitutional right to televise,” Halligan added. “Openness means that the doors are open to public scrutiny and anyone who wants can come and watch. New York’s courts are open in that way.” Commenting after the hearing, Henry Schleiff, chief executive officer of Court TV said, “It’s absurd in this day and age to have New York be so backwards on this issue.”

The case originated in September 2001, when Court TV initiated an action against the State of New York seeking a declaration that Section 52 of the state’s civil rights law was unconstitutional under both the state and federal constitutions. The lower court in that case upheld the statute in a decision issued in July 2003, and Court TV appealed. The matter then went before the Appellate Court with the NPPA, through its lawyers, submitting an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of that appeal. In June 2004 that midlevel court issued its decision inCourt TV v. State of New York, holding that “Section 52 of Civil Rights Law is not unconstitutional” and that the ban on audiovisual coverage in the State of New York “is sufficiently tailored to further important state interest, namely, preservation of value and integrity of live witness testimony in state tribunals.”

The court seemed receptive to Mr. Boies’ arguments and appeared somewhat skeptical when questioning Ms. Halligan. “I never want to predict what a court will decide,” Mr. Boies said afterward. Ms. Halligan declined to comment. In an ironic note there were two cameras in the chambers and the proceedings were televised on Court TV. New York does allow electronic coverage at the appellate level where no witness testimony is taken. Analogous to this argument is the Jackson trial being held in California, which permits cameras but is not being televised at the discretion of the trial judge. In commenting on this Court TV’s Schleiff said, “The absence of cameras has not minimized that story.” In an oft-repeated saying he added, “Our cameras may show the circus, they didn’t create the circus.”

The 53-year-old state law bars motion picture cameras from trial courtrooms but there is some question as to whether or not that language also precludes still photography. No verdicts in any of the approximately 800 trials the cable network has televised since 1991 have been reversed because of the presence of cameras, nor was there ever an appeal of any case on those grounds during New York’s 10-year experiment.

The Court of Appeals is comprised of seven judges and for Court TV to prevail at least four of them must vote to strike down the statute. A written opinion is expected this summer.

Mickey H. Osterreicher helped draft both amicus briefs for the NPPA as of counsel. He has been a member of the NPPA since 1972 and is on the Advocacy Committee. Osterreicher has been a photojournalist for more than 30 years in Buffalo, NY, where he now practices law.


Brown Is First Photojournalist In The Virginia Communications Hall Of Fame

RICHMOND, VA  – Bob Brown, an NPPA member since 1971 and the senior photographer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame on April 21 at a ceremony in Richmond, VA, the first photojournalist to be so honored. He joins a select group of inductees that includes the late Douglas Southall Freeman, one of America’s major 20th century biographers, CBS News journalist Roger Mudd, and former U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr.

Brown began working for Richmond Newspapers in 1968 and has covered the Virginia General Assembly since 1970, producing a book,Capitol Comics, a humorous look at the legislature, in 1984. He left Richmond to become director of photography for the Charlotte News in 1979 and returned to the Times-Dispatch in 1981. He has been Virginia News Photographer of the year three times and has won various first-place awards in national, regional, and state competitions. In 1989, he was presented the Miley Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Virginia News Photographers Association. In 1992, he was named senior photographer for the Times-Dispatch, a position he still holds.

Other 2005 inductees were Donald A. Perry, a cable television pioneer; Larry Saunders, chairman of Max Media Radio Group; and Charles W. Sydnor Jr., president and CEO of Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corp.

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Mass Communications, home to the Hall of Fame, hosts the annual banquet. – Jim Caiella


Michael Crawford's Take On The 2005 NPPA TV NewsVideo Workshop In Norman, OK

By Michael Crawford
KVUE-TV, Austin, TX

In March I had the privilege of attending the NPPA's 45th Annual TV NewsVideo Workshop at Oklahoma University in Norman, OK. So, you may ask, what happens at one of these things? The day starts with "Good morning Campers!" at 8 a.m., when a staff member addresses the roomful of bleary-eyed photographers. What follows are guest speakers, video presentations, and classroom critiques for the rest of the day, with optional group "cutaways" later in the evening (these were what I enjoyed the most, as they were more interactive). The cutaways covered a variety of topics from HDTV to lighting, and included a special Farkas-a-thon which I will get to later.

Participating faculty and staff included Brett Akagi, director of photography at KARE 11; freelance photojournalists Darrell Barton and Bob Brandon; NBC News reporter Bob Dotson; Ray Farkas from Off Center Productions; John Gross from NFL Films; Charles Hadlock, a freelance reporter who also works with KHOU; television editor John Hyjek of NBC News in Atlanta, GA; WJZ reporter Mike Schuh from Baltimore; and Kimberly Arms Shirk, who at one time was a reporter/photographer for WOI-TV.

Safety First: Kimberly Arms Shirk. As a young reporter in Nebraska, Shirk had been married only two months when she and her husband moved to Des Moines. She’d done one-man-band stuff in Nebraska and expected things to be the same at her new station in Iowa. Then the news director mentioned that she would also be required to run the live truck. She was apprehensive but it was now part of her job description. This was 1997. A colleague was off to do a live shot at the courthouse and needed a hand so Kimberly in her generous way kindly offered to sacrifice her lunch break to help out. She was sent out into the field, even though she had received no real safety training regarding the hazards of operating ENG vehicles with telescoping masts. With the clock ticking, eager to get the shot up, she failed to notice her colleague had parked underneath the power lines. He raised the mast and the shock of 13,000 volts went surging through his body. Witnesses described in graphic detail what happened. Kimberly, noticing something was amiss, ran to the other side of the truck to find her friend on the ground convulsing. As she attempted to go to his aid, the right side of her head made contact with the truck, causing severe burns on her skin and part of her skull, the electricity exiting her left knee and feet. Her big toes on both feet were blown off and her knee and other parts of her body required numerous reconstructive surgeries. At the scene, EMTs saw her injuries and left her for dead, treating her partner instead. Only after he was whisked away in the first ambulance did they turn to her. Kimberly's recovery continues to this day. Anyway I think you get my point: Safety is no accident.

I mention this because it was the most important presentation of the conference: SAFETY! Here in Austin last year we got a primer from Austin Energy about the dangers of electricity and what can happen if you are rushed, angry, upset at the desk or whatever, and raise a mast into power lines. No story is worth your life! The lesson is: Look up. Check. Double check. Ask your partner, “Do you see anything?” Use the flashlights.

Fun Stuff. Now on to the fun stuff. If there was a main theme of the workshop, it was storytelling. Think of your favorite comedian. Every joke has a setup, building action, or a complicating incident, and then a punch line at the end. It's that simple: a beginning, a middle, and an end. (Just think, you went to college and spent all that money, and in the end this was all you needed to know.)

Every story should have a plot, a protagonist, and a journey. There should be strong central characters, a dramatic arc, foreshadowing, conflict, resolution, and a closing. How these elements fit together is the question you answer when telling your story.

One point I’d like to make is that the NPPA TV NewsVideo Workshop is not only for photographers. Reporters are encouraged to go as well. Understanding what we do as photographers is important to the way reporters tell their stories, and vice versa. The workshop shows how success depends upon having a plan before you leave for a story. How many times have you gone out on a story, shot this, sprayed that, done a few interviews, a stand-up, and then gone back to the station and tried to put it all together? It probably happens more often than you’d like to admit. The reporter will blame the photographer: “He/she didn’t get that shot.” Photographers will blame the reporter: “He/she wrote me into a corner. I didn’t have a shot to cover that line.”

The real problem is, you didn’t have a plan to start with. The key is in knowing how the story is going to play before you shoot it, and that’s what Mike Schuh, a reporter for WJZ in Baltimore, explained at the workshop. As he took the floor, Mike held up an empty tape case and shook it. The objects inside made a jingling and rattling sound. He explained that his market, Baltimore, is an extremely violent place, and more often than not he finds himself in parts of town where police at crime scenes can’t tell the difference between shell casings used in the commission of the crime and the random ones that seem to litter the streets.

As quirky as we news people tend to be, he’s taken up collecting the shells he finds in the street. At this point he opened the tape case and dumped the shells on the floor and said, "Don't shoot wildly. If each one of those shell casings now represents a shot we have on our tape, what do we have? A bunch of random shots on the floor in no distinct order, representing nothing. Now what’s left to do but to pick up the pieces and to try to make sense of it all.”

What a pain, right? Have a plan, Schuh says. Shoot sequences and counter sequences, wide-medium-tight shots, action and reaction. To illustrate his point, he showed us a story of a train derailment that happened in Maryland a few years back. Because the train went off the track and caught fire in a tunnel, there was little video of the train itself other than the opening of the tunnel with smoke billowing out. So how do you tell the story of a train derailment that you have no pictures of? The story included the obvious: the tunnel opening, the fire public information officer, witnesses, the scene, and so forth. But having a plan, Schuh found a location that had a toy train and a tunnel he could use in a stand-up to explain which cars were leaking sulfuric acid, which cars were on fire, and how the accident occurred. He used a series of sequenced shots which, when cut together, were seamless and gave the viewer a frame of reference to visualize what had happened. Needless to say, because he had a plan, the competition was blown away while he ended up with a piece that he now shows at seminars.

Bob Dotson’s Middle Method. Bob Dotson is a reporter for NBC News whose work regularly appears on “Dateline” and on “NBC Nightly News.” We were lucky to have him as a speaker to share his insights about storytelling techniques. He opened with a package about twin bombings that happened several years ago at an abortion clinic in Atlanta. After the first explosion, a second was timed to explode after emergency crews and cameras had arrived. All the other networks opened their packages with tape of the second explosion. But Dotson – on the phone with producers and editors, and with the clock ticking – had a better idea: “Let’s build up to the (second) explosion and then in the middle of the piece, BOOM!” By building the dramatic effect, setting the scene with aerials and eyewitness accounts of the first bombing, the second explosion had an even greater impact on the viewer.

Another trick Dotson shared with the workshop was about story writing. After he’s been on a story for a while and the pieces are starting to come together, rather than struggling to come up with a “killer” opening line, he writes the middle of the story first, with all the nuts and bolts, and then goes back to find the next most interesting sound bite that he hasn’t yet used and rephrases that into the opening. By that time, the story is mostly written and he already knows what it’s about, so the opening and closing shots fall into place more easily.

About pictures and closings, Dotson made the point that television is fleeting, that the pictures are here and gone. In the old Western movies, the cowboy rides off into the sunset away from the camera. That’s what you want in a closing shot, one that says “resolution.” So when you’re nearly finished shooting, Dotson says ask yourself, “Do we have the cowboy yet?” If not, you’re not finished. Continue until you have it. We were shown several pieces, and then 30 minutes later we were asked to name a particular shot in the piece. In general, the viewer will remember the first and last shot because the pictures go by so fast.

John Hyjek, an NBC editor, was keen to point out that the eye is always drawn to the brightest part of the screen (as in a still photograph, the eye is drawn to the whitest or brightest spot). Knowing this, photographers should carefully watch backgrounds, skies, and ceiling lights. Anything in the shot that’s brighter than the subject will distract the viewer, drawing the eye way from what you want the viewer to see. To steal a line, “A good photographer will not show me what he saw, but what I didn't see.”

Communication & building relationships. One of the most important aspects of television storytelling is teamwork. Rarely do we work alone, and no story will succeed without creating a team environment. We work in the ultimate communication medium and often fail to communicate with each other. Building a relationship between the reporter and photographer is essential. Building trust and respect from your partner will make them work harder for you. A lot of it is attitude, being positive. Manny Sotelo, chief photographer for KUSA-TV, has been known to send applicants for photo positions out to work with a reporter for the day and then question the reporter afterwards to find out about the applicant’s attitude. If the reporter gives the applicant a thumbs-up, Sotelo is more likely to hire that person, even if their tape wasn’t that great. He knows he can craft the person into an excellent shooter, but the one thing you can’t craft is someone’s attitude.

For building the right team attitude, reporter Greg Vandergrift and photojournalist Scott Jensen have a Top 10 list of things for each team member to do.

For Reporters:

1. Carry the tripod. It shows you care. That hill to the Capitol is a big one. 
2. Think like a photographer. Know you are a visual storyteller. Write to video.
3. Be aware that your photographer may know better which way the story should go.
4. Allow your photographer time to gather the pictures necessary to tell the story.
5. Understand that your photographer is able to ask questions and collect information just like you do. 
6. Allow your photographer to make script suggestions.
7. Constantly communicate with your partner.
8. Do anything that will help your photographer gather the best pictures and sound. 
9. Don't write your photographer into a corner. 
10. Take pride, and have fun telling great stories.

For Photographers:

1. Get over your ego.
2. Realize you are collecting the puzzle pieces with which the reporter will write the story. 
3. Know your reporter can contribute or learn to contribute visually to the story.
4. Understand your reporter needs to collect information. Work to fit the info into your sequences. 
5. Know that sometimes you will have to work alone in order to get he job done. Prepare to ask questions. 
6. Allow your reporter to suggest shots. 
7. Constantly communicate with your partner. 
8. Tell your reporter how he/she can help you do your job better. 
9. Don't shoot your reporter into a corner. 
10. Take pride, and have fun telling great stories.

People Who Need People. Bob Dotson tells a story we should remember: Many moons ago, back around the time when we thought color television sets were a cool new invention, the Shah of Iran was in the States having surgery. His condition was grave, and the outcome was unclear. Local, network, and international television news crews were camped out near the hospital waiting for word of his condition. There was a rumor that the Shah’s son was also at the hospital and, if that was so, that was the “money sound bite” everyone wanted.

Around noon most of the crews left for lunch, except one particular photographer who stayed behind with his sandwich. A few minutes later the photographer noticed a young man smelling some of the beautiful red, pink, and white flowers in the hospital’s outdoor garden. On a hunch, the photographer casually approached him, camera rolling, shotgun microphone at the ready, and said, “Those sure are beautiful flowers, aren’t they?” The young man said, “Yes, they are.” The photographer’s own father had recently been hospitalized, so he said to the young man, “You know, my father was recently in the hospital and he loves to tend flowers in his garden.” To this the young man said, “Yes, my father is here in the hospital now having open-heart surgery and I’m deeply worried about him, I love him very much. He is the Shah of Iran.”

When the rest of the crews returned from lunch the photographer whispered to the reporter, “Guess what I got?” He went home a hero. How did he get his exclusive? Not by being a cameraman, but by being a person with a camera. When we talk with people in the field they are often at their best, but more commonly they are at their worst, and we must treat them with the respect they deserve. We don’t need to compound their grief with our intrusiveness and insensitivity. Remember to treat people as people and not as just the sound bite you need. If people are in distress, it’s best to talk with them first off camera. Then have the reporter wear a wireless lav microphone (if necessary) and shoot from a distance. Without a camera in their face, they may feel less threatened and may even forget that they’re on tape. You will get more emotional, natural sound bites, and by the time the reporter thanks them for talking with you, they’ll think, “Wow, that wasn't so bad. I didn't even realize they were recording.”

Darrell Barton & Ray Farkas. During the Thursday session, freelance photojournalist Darrell Barton, who regularly shoots for “60 Minutes,” “48 Hours,” and “Dateline,” introduced Ray Farkas. But first, Barton talked about shooting stories in Afghanistan with Dan Rather and showed a few pieces from Nicaragua and El Salvador. He also showed a raid on a cocaine processing plant in the jungles of Colombia, in which they had to run for cover when they came under fire as the Colombian military torched the facility.

Barton and Farkas go back a long time. Barton recalled how as a younger man, back when he was just beginning to freelance, a woman from NBC called and said, “Hi Darrell, I think we might have something for you. Will you work with Ray Farkas?" Barton was eager to go and hungry for work, so he said, "Lady, I will work with the Devil.” “This might just work out,” she replied. So Barton flew to the location and was pulling his light kit off the luggage carousel when a man walked up to him and said, "I hate lights." A bit taken back, Barton said, "Well, sometimes they help for illumination." Being the “A” cameraman in charge of the shoot, Farkas said to Barton, “Look, when we get there just go roll the camera and then you can go have a smoke or a cup of coffee, I don't care.”

Farkas, as many already know, is not your “ordinary” individual, as his first meeting with Barton illustrates. Recently Farkas suffered from a severe form of Parkinson’s disease that required brain surgery and, being none other than Ray Farkas himself, he decided to shoot it. With the help of Barton and a few others, including Farkas’s son, they documented every moment of it, from his suffering before the surgery, though the operation to implant electrodes to stimulate sections of the brain that were causing debilitating tremors, through his recovery. An episode of “Nightline” aired a version of the story, and a feature film documentary will soon be released called “It’s Not Television, It’s Brain Surgery.” Farkas said that he told the doctors that if they came up with a cure for Parkinson’s he was “going to strangle them and make them do the surgery anyway” because he’s worked so hard on the pre-production for the film.

It’s Ray Farkas’s style that makes him unique ( His work includes a short film, “The Penis Museum,” shot for HBO. It’s about a real museum in Iceland that collects the penises of species native to Iceland: the arctic fox, the sperm whale, you name it (except for human). The piece includes an interview with an elderly Icelandic gentleman who has willed his penis to the museum when his time comes. It’s a charming story that got a lot of chuckles in the darkened auditorium. Farkas’s style of using compression in his shots and wireless microphones was also apparent in a story he did in Nashville, TN, with a street vendor’s hot dog stand. Farkas put the camera across the street from the two guys working the hot dog stand and told them the story was about Nashville music. Then he walked back across the street, rolled the camera on a two-shot of them, and let it roll locked down.

So these two guys just talk and play guitar and sing and totally forget that they are on tape. Ray likens it to eavesdropping, and it truly gets some magical moments. He used the same technique in a New York restaurant two days after 9/11, capturing all the grief and uncertainty that gripped the country after that terrible day. His work was truly inspiring and influenced my thinking about ways of shooting: Move the camera BACK! Look for shots that have foreground and background of what you want to be in focus, and look for compression shots. And when doing those man-on-the-street pieces, move the camera across the street and shoot with a long lens. As Farkas says, “It’s all about the journey.”

A Teamwork Checklist from NPPA Handbook:

1. Use language that will create a pro-team environment, words like "us" and "our" as opposed to "I,” “me," and "mine."

2. Discuss how to best visualize the story.

3. Work to find a central character.

4. Tell each other where you see the story going. Respect each other’s opinions. Brainstorm together.

5. Talk about the story structure and discuss the outline.

6. Build the open together before you get back to the station.

7. Talk about setting up surprises.

8. Be efficient with your time. Having more time to edit means a better-crafted story. Know what elements you need and what you don't.

9. A missed deadline reflects poorly on both of you. Don't give the managers a reason to break up your team. Try to resolve any issues with your partner before you go home. Follow the advice for married couples and don’t go to bed angry. It will only get worse.

10. On your assignment today, be ready to improve on what you didn't do so well yesterday.

11. The story belongs to the subjects. You and your teammate are privileged to be able to tell their story.

Michael Crawford can be reached at [email protected].