The Importance of a photography community–that you belong to one

Ben Gray, Visual Manager at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was our keynote speaker. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/110]

While I have tried for many years to get a large group of photographers together for mainly social time to get to know each other, it has been a struggle. However, this weekend we had thirty-two people show up for our meeting of Christian in Photojournalism Atlanta/Southeast at our home in Roswell, GA.

I was talking to my friend Ken Touchton and he said he wasn’t surprised because we had basically created a mini conference.

Berrie Smith, camera repairman, who works with Nikon and Canon on a regular basis was there cleaning people’s camera sensors and doing some minor repairs. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/8, 1/125 with fill-flash set at -1 EV]

We had a keynote speaker, a devotional, camera repairs and complimentary lunch provided by Chick-fil-A.

Dorie Griggs, led our devotional time [Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ƒ/9, ISO 12800, 1/100]

Dorie Griggs reminded each of us while our jobs may isolate us from one another that we do need to come together and rely on each other for support.

1 Peter 4:10
New International Version (NIV)
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

The Bible verse she used to remind us that we are to use our gifts to reconnect with one another was 1 Peter 4:10.

Craig Carden and John Bazee discover that they have a great deal in common. Both have worked for radio stations, love music and photography. [Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ƒ/9, ISO 12800, 1/50]

What was different from most photography communities is we encouraged spouses and significant others to come to the meeting. The reason is they are part of our support system. Those who support photographers have a lot in common as well they found out.

Also, spouses enjoyed meeting their spouses colleagues and getting another perspective on someone else who is also doing photography.

Peggy Frazeur and Carrie Carden spend some time getting to know each other for the first time at this meeting.  [Nikon D4, 85mm, ƒ/3.5, ISO 8000, 1/200]

Since I am a photographer more than a writer I am hoping that these photographs are helping you see the emotional connections that were being made and the enjoyment people showed in being in this environment. Most everyone commented how this was a blessing for them.

I think coming together and talking to others doing photography makes a huge difference in our emotional condition. Of course people were bringing their latest cameras to show to each other. We are all have to be a gear-head to be a successful photographer and finding something that is helping us do a better job is so exciting we enjoy sharing with someone. The big hit with most folks was pulling out their mirrorless cameras and showing all that these cameras will do that fit in a pocket.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/50]

In December the Atlanta Journal-Constitution laid off all of their 10 photographers. They then gave each of them first shot at one of their 7 their new multimedia specialist positions. They no longer have just a photographer position anymore on their staff. Ben is also no longer just at the desk, he is out covering breaking news every day. In this role he is often the only AJC journalist on news scenes and is relied on to provide still photos, video, audio and reporting with accuracy and immediacy. He frequently contributes video to WSB-TV and audio to WSB Radio in the course of his work.

We asked him to walk through a typical assignment and how he gathers all this for all those outlets.

Ben’s Breaking News Workflow:

  • Get photos first: He arrived at airplane crash and knew from experience that he would be moved back by the police as they established the boundaries. “I can get quotes later, but I cannot get the photos later.” He has an Eye-fi card in the camera. He just tags a photo and the camera is setup to automatically send the photo using his hotspot to send those to the newspaper/radio/TV station where they can pull those while he continues to work.
  • Shoot Video on iPhone: He shoots 10 second clips that they post to the websites and WSB-TV can use as well. If they arrive with a crew he doesn’t have to send the video.
  • Reporting Role: He is gathering audio with his iPhone and then he sends these interviews by email to the assignment desk where they have a writer turn this into copy for the web.
  • Touches base with assignment desk: They may call and ask for more.
  • Formal editing: He will do minor editing of image and captioning to add to the galleries online. He will also check the photos that were pulled from his photos that were automatically transmitted. He has pulled photos off the web that accidentally showed a dead person in a photo for example
Gibbs Frazuer is one of the people who shared their work. We have always given 2 – 5 minutes for anyone to share their work. This is a great way for all of us to see what each other is doing and also a great time for us to practice showing our work. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 1/35]
[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 1/25]
Our First Project
I wanted to introduce the idea of shooting a project where we could each find a person and tell their story. To introduce the idea I showed Chick-fil-A’s Every Life Has a Story.

We are all going to find a subject and put together a package which we will share at our next meeting. We are hoping to then find a space to hold an event where we can invite the subjects and the community to see the stories and maybe for us to leave an exhibit up of some prints from those stories.

Enjoying our Chick-fil-A sandwiches and getting to know one another. [Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ƒ/9, ISO 12800, 1/200]

When we all arrived everyone was meeting new people for the first time. In one way or another we asked each other, “So what’s your story?” We all want to connect with each other. We not only want to connect through getting to know someone’s story, we also want to share our story.

Dorie Griggs and Laura Espeut wanted a photo together. That is what friends do when they get together–smile. [Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ƒ/9, ISO 12800, 1/80]

Do you have a community? Look for a community to join and if there is not one you can find, then start one yourself.

Remember this is what God intended as we see in 1 Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Once you understand God’s grace you cannot help but want to pay it forward through service to others.

So, when are you getting together with some photographers?