Cell Phone Journalism

Cell Phone Journalism was my first session of the day, taught by David Stephenson of the University of Kentucky. We looked a number of examples of viewer photos of Superstorm Sandy and agreed that the quality of their images were extremely poor. There are simple things that photographers can do with their smart phones to create high quality images.

Obviously never use the digital zoom, it drastically decreases the quality of your photo. When filming subjects, keep the camera as still as possible and move your subject to a place where wind or other elements won’t be blowing and affecting your audio quality.

We also discussed a number of photo apps such as Instagram and Photo+ and how they played into photojournalism. Obviously editing the photos in an artistic way is not journalistically right but if the viewer knows they are presented in that way then it’s ok. For example we discussed Damon Winters of The New York Times and how he won a Photographer of the Year award for his Instagrams of soldiers during the war and how it was ok because there was a disclaimer that they were edited that way. Regardless it presents a shaky line that the photojournalism world has never experienced before. It’s much easier to have your phone up and snapping photos as opposed to a big DSLR because people tend to act differently when they know their being photographed.

He suggested every journalist with a smart phone check out the Mobile Reporting Field Guide to learn how anyone can create images and video that doesn’t look like it was shot by a six-year old. 

Also I’m going to check out Filterstorm and Eye-Fi. Filterstorm can FTP photos from your phone if you’re working for a wire service under a tight deadline and need to move one or two photos immediately. Eye-Fi can wireless upload SD memory cards to your phone and your can send one or two photos instantaneously. It can be particularly useful during basketball season when I can send one photo every time there is a time-out. If there is a Monday night production and I’m shooting a game, I can send my best photo to the editor while the team is still in their huddle. Lastly, the best part about both apps is that you can edit IPTC info on your phone! So when I send the photos there can be a caption embedded in the photo. Now I’m getting excited about basketball…

-Al Drago


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