Covering a candidates for City Council meeting

L/R Marie Willsey, Lori Henry and Shelley Sears are all running for open spot on the city Council, speaks at Roswell City Council Candidate forum held at the Roswell Community Masjid. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 2500, ƒ/4, 1/100]

I went to the local Masjid in Roswell to cover three of the candidates running for City Council office.


I wanted to show that this was pretty historic to show the Masjid hosting the meeting and as well to capture the personalities of those running for office, so that the audience would know about the candidates a little more than before the event. The tiles had Arabic language on them and I included them to show the location of the meeting.

I watched and listened. Each of the candidates running for office was very different from the others.

Shelley Sears was running on her success as a business woman in Real Estate. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4.8, 1/100]

Shelly Sears was no nonsense business personality. She had a very similar approach of Trump. She wanted everyone to no she was not a politician, but a successful business person. She was running on the platform of we need business people running the city and not politicians.

I noticed she leaned forward more than the other candidates and intentionally chose not to use a microphone. This to me was her visually saying she needs no help at all and can handle it herself. I waited for the moment I thought that show her take control lean forward and tell you how she is going to take control was the best way to capture her.

Marie Willsey has been serving on her homeowners association board. She was seeing this as an opportunity to serve just like she has done for homeowners board, but a bigger stage of the community. She just likes serving. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4.8, 1/100]

Now Marie Willsey reminded me of the stay at home mom who is involved in community service projects. She was serving on her homeowners board and loved doing this. She saw many of the same things facing the homeowners as those concerns for the larger community.

All the time when she was talking she was smiling. It was important that she came across as friendly and wanting to be seen as someone there to help you. So, I was sure to capture the smile and the warmth she was conveying to the audience.

Lori Henry had served in the past on the City Council. She wanted people to know she understood the issues that are the hotting topics to the community. She wanted to portray herself as scholared candidate on the cities issues. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4.8, 1/100]

Now the third candidate had been here before. Lori Henry was running at the well educated on the issues candidate. She took issues and explained what needs to change to make a difference.

To capture this I had to look for that expression that showed a lot of thought going into her comments. So I looked for that furrowed brow and intense gaze.

Thought before I shot

As you can see I thought about each person. I felt their presence and looked for ways to capture those things into a visual moment that communicated some of this to the audience through the lens of the camera.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 2800, ƒ/4, 1/100]

However First I …

The very first thing I did was to walk into the room and asses the room technically.

The room had fluorescent as well as tungsten lights. I wrote an earlier blog talking about this here and how to get good white balance.

I basically did a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc and was sure that the shutter speed was no faster than 1/100.

Next I sat on the front row center so I could get a clear shot of the speakers without any distractions. Also I knew I could stand up for a moment and move to the side and get an overall shot at some moment.

I also brought two cameras. The Nikon D5 had a 24-105mm which helped for the over all shot and the three speaking, but then I brought my Fuji X-E2 with the 55-200mm which let me get tight shots of them individually speaking without me leaving my chair.

Once I had all the technical stuff taken care of I then switched my mind over to listening and finding those moments to tell the story.


I call all this my shooting workflow. You need to always get the best technical shot as well as getting the moments to tell the story. There is a process that takes place every single time.

Do you have a process? Do you know why you are taking a photo? Do you know who your audience is for your photos? If you don’t know these answers then you will not be able to communicate much through your photos.

This is the time of year for children

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

This is the time of year we celebrate Jesus being born. This is the time of year we celebrate children.

At my church this Christmas eve there is a special service for families with small children that we enjoy going to each year.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

This little boy decided to join our minister in the chair beside her. The minister said as long as you sit you can stay.

Well that was a fun thing to watch unfold.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

I think the minister was enjoying the little boy as much as he liked being treated like an adult.

The more I travel the more I see that children are much more welcomed into services around the world than we do here.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100

Here all the kids are so well behaved here in Togo, West Africa. However they do walk around in the service to the mothers and family.

Children can bring you joy.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100

Take the time to enjoy moments and capture them to show others what you value and also to teach children what you value.

Photography has the power to help communicate our values. When it comes to faith capture those moments that shape your morals and values for your family.

1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

 Children are paying attention to all we do and how we act.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

London taught me that creating an EXPERIENCE is important in business

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/220

In business your product is just part of why people will do business with you. Now if your product is on par with the rest of the industry then the other thing that people are paying for is EXPERIENCE.

We just spent our vacation traveling to London for an EXPERIENCE. One of the major things we were paying to enjoy was to relive the Harry Potter movies. We wanted to experience the movies as if we were there in them. So here we went to Kings Crossing Train Station to 9 3/4 to get our pictures made as if we were going through the wall onto Hogwarts.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/2.8, 1/100

We went to the House of Minalima. Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima met in 2002 when a happy coincidence of fates meant they were to work together as graphic designers on the Harry Potter film franchise. Here they had a unique opportunity to establish the visual graphic style from the outset of the productions. The design aesthetic they created for Harry Potter is still sought after, be it designing collectable merchandise or collaborating on the much anticipated Warner Bros Studio Tour.

Rather than just have a store with items on the shelf they created a self guided tour of their artwork and created moments like we remember of Harry Potter’s invitation letter to Hogwarts. They created an EXPERIENCE for us to enjoy.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 640, ƒ/3.6, 1/100

One of the biggest phenomena’s in the past few years as related to photography has been the selfie. While we have always done some form of this with photography through the years the selfie stick came along to help us include more people in our photos.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Here you can see all the women getting in close to the London Bobby to get their photo made with him. It is an experience that not only are they having they are now sharing this in their social media. Then their friends will comment on how much they: like, love or other ways of expressing their joy of the photo.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 640, ƒ/3.6, 1/100

In the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Brother’s Studio outside of London they had different things you could do on the tour. Here my daughter is being taught how to dual with a wizarding wand using a mirror to see her style as compared to the teacher on the TV screen to the left.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/10, 1/70

We went on a Harry Potter Muggles tour where they showed us some of the filming spots in London as well as take us to places like Collier Street which was J. K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley.

Notice the tour guide is dressed in Gryffindor attire and looks like she could easily just walked off the set of the movie. To help us with the EXPERIENCE she had screen shots of the movie [in her hand] that she would pull out at different stops and pass around to help us see in the movie what we were EXPERIENCING first hand.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/75

Now my daughter dressed up in her Gryffindor robe and enjoyed not only having people ask to be photographed with them, but she was excited to see this guy dressed up as Newt Scamander from the latest movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Even last night I heard my daughter yell out that the guy dressed like Newt was in another documentary she just saw. Again it is about an EXPERIENCE.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/45

One of my daughter’s favorite scenes from the Harry Potter series is when Harry Potter talks with Remus Lupin on the Bridge. She is standing where they stood when they filmed that scene. What an EXPERIENCE it was for her.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/90

For me it was the scale model of Hogwarts that just let me see the detail for which they created this mystic place that captured me the most.

Question for You

What are you doing to create an EXPERIENCE that people will tell their friends about and want to do business with you.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Can you see your customers smiling at certain points in their interactions with you and your company?

Can you think of something that can create more of an EXPERIENCE than you are doing now?

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/110

My trip to London just reminded me that all those little details like clothing can help create something that keeps people traveling from all over the world to get the EXPERIENCE first hand.

Most importantly for everyone in business is to concentrate of creating a great PRODUCT and creating an EXPERIENCE that separates you from everyone else.

More photos from London with the Fuji X-E2

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/400

We have been having lots of fun in England this week. Morning full English breakfast at The Orangery at Kensington Palace. My daughter enjoyed her tea.

I am just going to add photos here from the last couple of days that I was able to capture with my Fuji X-E2. I am using just he 18-55mm and the 55-200mm lenses.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/120

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 800, ƒ/9, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 250, ƒ/4, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/11, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/11, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5, 1/350

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4.7, 1/180

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5, 1/600

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/120

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/240

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/2.8, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/350

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/3.6, 1/680

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.8, 1/950

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/300

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.7, 1/120

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/1100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.2, 1/640

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/3800

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/3.6, 1/750

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4.8, 1/120

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/300

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/45

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/90

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

More sights of London with my Fuji X-E2

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

I enjoyed seeing the sights in London. Some of the sights were just reflections in the sidewalk of the Coke sign in Piccadilly Square in London.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

There is so much to see in London and there is just not enough time for any tourist. So you pick your locations. Our family went to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards ceremony.

It is really impossible to find one location to get good photos of every part of the ceremony. We got right next to the railing of the front gate. I had to shoot through the iron gates to get this photo.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

I found the Fuji 55-200mm lens just great to use for this situation. I was too far away for the 18-55mm, but was able to get some fun moments like this one of the London Bobby with tourists taking a selfie.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

I just had to wait and watch to capture people in wonderful moments of expression. This was easier to do than capture the guard. They are very business like throughout the event in their role.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 640, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

In photography to capture people’s attention you need “surprises”. Most of the time I find that expressions on people’s faces is the easiest to find. However every once in a while something is different enough to be a “visual surprise” like this guard wearing a turban rather than the bearskin tall hat that the rest of the guards wear. Also the only one with a beard.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.5, 1/150

The most important thing for me the entire trip was that my wife and daughter were having fun. If they were enjoying everything, then I was OK with wherever we were in London.

We all love Harry Potter and my wife has been a Downton Abbey fan for a while. So London was a perfect place for a vacation.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/70

For me this photo made me think of the “Night Bus” in Harry Potter. Maybe before Harry Potter it would just be a double decker bus in London, but the storyline of Harry Potter will forever be burned in mind and now these are the Night Bus in the series.

Technical Tip

Before I could just concentrate on capturing moments and moods of England I had to understand my camera and make it do what I wanted and not just whatever it would create on it’s own.

For all these photos I used the ExpoDisc to create a Custom White Balance. Using presets or Auto White balance just doesn’t give me as good a results most of the time. Here is how I do that in an older blog post.

For the most part I think you can shoot much of travel photography with lenses between 28mm to 200mm. The FUJINON XF 18-55mm and FUJINON XF 55-200mm give me between 27mm to 300mm coverage. This was important to get those photos at Buckingham Palace.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

You don’t have to get a camera with changeable lenses, you can buy cameras that have built in zooms that cover this range for you.

My last tip for your vacation travel and well all photos is to write captions and keywords for the photos. This way you can find them later on when you need to. I use the software PhotoMechanic to do all my captions and keywording. Here is an earlier blog post to help you understand how this works. For those who prefer a video here is a video I created showing this workflow.

Most likely after this trip I will create a coffee table book with Blurb so I can enjoy this trip for years to come.

Wedding tip is as close as your smart phone

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 220, ƒ/8, 1/100

I just got back last night from the west coast. I enjoyed shooting a friends wedding and getting to meet all of his friends.

The weather in Portland was perfect for the wedding. Cool enough that a coat was not too hot to wear, which was perfect for all the guys.

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/200, 2- Alienbees B1600 strobes

This is one of the bigger group shots I have done for a wedding. They had everyone turn around just before they walked out of the church for a group photo. What a really cool idea.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 160, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

My second shooter for the wedding Laura Deas Espeut showed me a great tip. She had on her phone a collection of wedding photos like a Pinterest album and used this for ideas to help in a moment when you start to run dry. The second bonus is she can show people the concept so they can execute it a little better.

That is what we did for the first look photos.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 160, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

I did find that this couple was great because they wanted more spontaneous moments rather than posed. This meant just getting them in good light where the background was good and then just shoot.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/100

We did a good number of posed shots, because that is about the only way to be sure you see everyone and get a good expression.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 180, ƒ/6.3, 1/100

The cloud cover gave us pretty even light for all of the photos outside. It had just rained so all the sidewalks were not bright. Actually just like they do for most movies and TV shows they wet the pavement to keep it from being too bright.

My tip from this wedding is to create an album on your phone of photos you like to use with weddings to show your bride and groom on the wedding day when you are trying to get everyone excited about participating and making the photo work.

Nikon D5 & Fuji X-E2 Shooting Live Theatre

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 22800, ƒ/5.6, 1/500

I have a daughter who is in theatre and I have been enjoying using my photography to connect with her through her plays and musicals.

I have been shooting the latest performance using Nikon D5 and my Fuji X-E2. Let me just start by jumping to the end for you. I wish I could blend the two cameras and then I would be happy.

What I loved about the Nikon D5 was I could shoot at ISO 45600 which also let me use the shutter speed of 1/500.

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/500

What I loved about the Fuji X-E2 is that because it is a mirrorless camera it is so much quieter.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4.4, 1/60

Now the Fuji lens has image stabilization that as long as the actors were somewhat still I could get excellent images. However, most of the time ISO 6400 was the top I could get out of the Fuji. which limited the shutter speed to about 1/200. This was only possible when the stage was well lit.

In theater they often dim the lights to where you need a much higher ISO.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/200

Now I did try shooting with the Nikon D5 in Live View and this let you shoot totally silent. It grabbed a screen shot. However it is only a JPEG and most of all the auto focus sucked. Even Nikon tells you as much. This is on page 45 of the manual.

The only reason I disliked the Nikon D5 was the noise of the shutter as compared to the Fuji. In every other respect I preferred it.

The Fuji images put side by side the Nikon D5 were very acceptable. As long as the actors were not running around then they were excellent.

The main downside of the Fuji is the focus didn’t lock in as fast as the Nikon D5. If it went out of focus it would hunt.

Then Nikon D5 was extremely quick with focus.

If I could have made the camera as quiet as the Fuji I would have never shot the Fuji. In live theatre you don’t want to draw attention to yourself and distract from the performance because of the camera.

I chose to shoot more with the Fuji based on sound of the camera more than anything else.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/4.8, 1/200

Here are some more photos for you to see and the camera as well as the settings.

Get-R-Done is being performance driven

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 360, ƒ/1.4, 1/100

Comedian Larry the Cable guy is attributed with the American phrase Get-R-Done. I will let Larry explain it’s origin and what it means.

The last five weeks I have watch my daughter and her friends Get-R-Done with Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.

That is my daughter on the right in the first photo with her friend Jessica who is in the play with her. they are also president and vice-president of the high school theatre club.

The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective – people who know to see a problem as an opportunity. –– Deepak Chopra

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/3.9, 1/60

I watched my daughter as she designed the costumes for the play. Some from scratch and then buying clothes at the local thrift store and then modifying them for the period. This all happened from just five weeks ago.

By the way the rest of the cast also was just as busy. they made this quite elaborate set. There was much more work in this project than their musical they did last year with 10 weeks of time.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4.4, 1/60

Now at the same time they are memorizing their lines. Now if you haven’t listed and read any Shakespeare, let me just say this is like learning a foreign language. It takes some time to not just say the words but understand what you are saying.

I did a quick recording of the play last night for my parents who couldn’t come for the play. Just listen to some of it and see all the set and costumes for yourself.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/4.5, 1/60

I watched the passion of the students rise so much that tears would pour down their faces. They were frustrated when the lines just were difficult and not coming as easily as other material had in the past taken to memorize.

I watched when some of the cast would get it before others in the scene and get frustrated with the others who didn’t understand who they were talking to during some of their lines, which can happen on a first read of the language of Shakespeare from that time period.

Then I watch as the students would calm down and then take the time to work with each other and help each other understand a scene and how they worked to make the scene better together.

While these kids are trying to figure out their roles in society they were learning some of this from learning their roles in the play. They learned how blocking and purpose for their role was important. How they are acting even when they have no lines but are on stage.

How about you?

You have a lot on your plate for your work. Do you Get-R-Done? As Larry the Cable Guy’s says this is when you give it your all and give 110%.

Just like all these high school students realize they practiced over and over so when the audience was present they were being entertained. They wanted to perform at the level where the storyline moved the audience to laugh and cry.

Is all the stuff you are working on today behind those closed doors going to WOW the audience? Are you passionate as these students about their play.

Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. –– Ralph Marston

Feedback we give to first time Multimedia Storytellers

James Dockery, ESPN editor and co-teacher, is in Lisbon with me as we are teaching the students multimedia storytelling. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm,  ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/90]

Each time I teach multimedia storytelling I find myself sitting with the student and talking about what they could do better.

This summer I taught in a program the same thing I teach in a workshop, but they needed to have a grade, which required me to write out those tips.

Here is the gist of what I am writing when grading or giving someone feedback on their first multimedia storytelling project.

Since this is the very first time you have done multimedia storytelling and have few friends who have been through something like this you may feel like you are flying blind at times.

I know most students when signing up for a course like this have often talked to other alumni of the classes and made their decision to take a class based on what those students told them.

This is to say that for the most part the only person helping you with this assignment would have been myself. This puts a lot more burden on you to ask more questions and push harder to grasp new concepts.

I saw through the class this grappling with storyline and storytelling. I think this is actually the most difficult part of the content to master. If it were that easy to do then there would be blockbuster hit after another coming out of the studios around the world.

One of the key elements of this project is that the success of the project has a lot to do with how well you take ownership and control. It requires leadership skills as well as the skills of the technician to capture the content.

You did a great job of adjusting from the first interview to the second time. I think you really showed the concept really well with what I call the “Radio Cut.” A “Radio Cut” is where you can close your eyes and just listen and get the story as if you were listening to it on the radio.

One area I would encourage you to work on is what I call the peeling of the onion of the story. I thought you did a pretty good job with peeling the onion and getting a deeper story than you had on the first round. I think in time you will know how to get deeper faster with your subjects.

The reason I think it is good to dig deeper is the more you are able to help the audience understand that this is a problem that is so difficult to over come and needs a miracle to make it happen they will not be as engaged.

Zacuto Z-Finder

My advice on the technical side would be to get a viewfinder for your LCD. Many of your shots were slightly out of focus, which is typical if you cannot see the LCD up close.

Fill the 16×9 frame. Make is a cinema piece and don’t use verticals where you see the black on the sides. Fill the frame.

I would also advise getting more variety in these types of shots as both video and stills.

  • 25% Wide Shots – Establishing
  • 25% Medium Shots
  • 50% Close-ups

I think if you had more time with your subject you could have shot a lot more and had what we call more b-roll to use while he is telling us his story through the audio.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Another tip is to fill the screen with b-roll when someone is talking about things in the past. This is where abstract visuals can really help you.

This is where you may have what I call a video portrait of her can help. The subject is looking out a window for example and you just slowly move the camera or it is on tripod and they might move just a little.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/420

Another thing you could use is what I like to think as visual eye candy shots. This might be a close-up of water drops during rain hitting leaves. Could be a shot in a room as people walk through the shot. Where you rack focus in and out of focus on elements in your subject’s world. Things like a book, a flower on a table, tools he may use in the job and things that just when used as b-roll are kind of what you might see when you are day dreaming and looking out a window.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 10000, ƒ/8, 1/100

For non-journalistic piece you can coach the talent/subjects. Their voices sounded the same even when they are talking about killing themselves or running a successful business. Their voices need to have a little more emotions than the same one. Most people need a little coaching and doing several takes until you capture the emotion of what they are saying is necessary. Just as good light can impact the mood of a photo, the tone of the person’s voice can bring mood and emotion to the storyline.

Sequencing needs to keep me on the edge of the seat. Meaning every 10 to 15 seconds you need to create a little tension. Sometimes this is visual and sometimes it is in their voices, the words or something that makes it a page-turner.

Remember this from all that I taught on storytelling. Your clients for the most part do not know their stories well enough or they don’t need you. Also, they don’t know how to take your content and put it together into something for their audience. They need you to take control and capture their stories and put them into packages for their audience. They also need help with promoting their stories. So individual social media posts to drive people to the “story” are also needed. Still image with a few words and pointing people to the project on Vimeo or YouTube can not just help the client promote their work, but give them ideas on how to promote their work as well.

Remember you are not just telling their stories; you are educating them on how to tell their stories without you as well. They will take tips from the process and now be better speakers when they speak due to you helping them see the nuggets of their story. You will help them become more transparent so that ultimately their stories are told in a way that the audience is moved to action.

Lesson Planning & Games are Keys to Effective Communication

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 360, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Communications professionals need to know more than the 5 Ws.

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. Where
  4. When
  5. How
I believe understanding games and educational lesson plans can make you a better communicator. 

If you do not understand and know the rules of the game you will most likely not be any good, but most likely will lose the game.

A game is only as good as its rules, and how well we play the game is defined by how well we follow the rules. What is so fascinating about many of the games we play today is that there are often no instruction books included—yet we somehow know how to play them anyway. We learn from family, friends, teachers, and coaches.

We also know that it doesn’t matter if you follow the rules that the game came with or if you make up your own rules; it really just matters that everyone agrees on what the rules are.

Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/7.1, 1/750

The core to a good game is understanding the objective of the game, the subject matter, materials, the procedures and score.

Creating a game is really no different than that of creating a educational lesson plan.

Five Parts of a Lesson Plan

1. Objectives
2. Subject Matter
3. Materials
4. Procedure
5. Assignment

Objective – A statement of purpose for the whole lesson. It tells us what the students will be able to do by the end of the lesson. It will determine the activities the students will engage in.

Subject Matter – This will be the sources of material to be studied.

Topic for a lesson

Materials – Necessary teaching aids to be used for instruction

Procedure – This is the body of your lesson plan where you outline the steps to be taken by the teacher & student.

Assignment – where you insure good recitation, which tells us

What needs to be done
How it is to be done
Why it is to be done

Humanitarian Work

As a professional communicator for humanitarian work I am helping organizations tell their stories so that the audience will get involved. These organizations need financial support, but also volunteers to help make the work happen.

Looking at a project as a teacher would for writing a lesson plan you start with the objective. Many communicators may figure out that this is the why in the 5 Ws, but it is much more because with humanitarian work you have a call to action with the audience. When telling a journalistic story you are not telling the audience to take an action you are just informing most of the time.

Having an objective also helps you focus your questions while gathering the story that will help you meet that objective. Too many times I have been overseas capturing a story that when we go to the final step of how the audience could get involved through the call to action the organization finally realized they helped to tell a story for a local person and didn’t have a great way for the audience to get involved that helped to fund the organization. They were chasing human interest stories without an objective in mind.

When doing a story you will go down many rabbit holes. If you know your objective it is much easier to redirect the subjects back on track. You know that when they started they were answering a question that then they took in another direction. You redirect them by clarifying and helping you find the supporting information which is helping you achieve your objective.

What many storytellers are lacking when it comes to using their skills for humanitarian work and for business is a purpose to their story. That purpose is a call to action. Did your story engage the audience? You must be able to measure this.

Just like at the end of the game you will know the score, great communicators with organizations know if their communication engaged the audience to action. They have the last step of the lesson plan written into their communications plan–the assignment. That is the action plan the audience will take after hearing their story.