Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Photojournalism on a budget

Someone recently asked me what kind of gear they need to start out in photojournalism, covering breaking news and feature work.

This is a pretty good question. And in reality, you can do it pretty cheaply, to start with. Any digital SLR camera will do. Even a cheap Digital Rebel Xt or Nikon D50 will do. The kit lenses, even though they get a bad rep at times, will work fine, and you can pick up a cheap longer zoom, like a 70-300 or 70-200. A basic flash, like a new Vivitar 285 and a lot of memory and batteries will complete the camera gear. With this set up, you can cover quite a bit. And this gear should be well under $1000. If you want to do it right though, from the start, Canon 1 series bodies, and at least a 16-35, 24-70, 70-200 and 300mm set of lenses, all in 2.8 versions, along with a fast prime or two like a 50 1.2, 85 1.2, or 135 2.0, and this can run you more than 10X what the basic kit will, maybe closer to 15 or 20X.

But it is much more than just the camera gear. A laptop that you can transmit your images quickly on, meaning either you need a wifi or internet location to hook up to or a cellular phone card to connect to the internet to transfer files, software to quickly edit the images and caption them and a ftp program. And to find the news, you need to be connected with press releases, keep a police scanner near you, and create relationships with newspaper editors in your area. You could get away with spending as little as a couple thousand dollars to close to $100K on "tools of the trade".

But whether you have the Rebel or a 1D Mk III, and all the computer gear and software you need, you still have to be able to capture the news, and that means knowing your gear and understanding what makes a news photograph newsworthy. College classes on journalism and photojournalism, as will as journalism workshops help greatly here. Very few people can make a career out of photojournalism with out having some schooling in it. Starting out with a local weekly paper can give you some experience, but the knowledge is not as great as you will get with actual higher education. So, look at spending another $50K on tuition to Brooks Institute or another credible photojournalism school.

It is a very tough business, and you can make it if you work hard at it. Good luck.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Snow is gone...almost

It is still a little chilly out, snow that was piled up over the winter is still melting, but at last check, the fields in Eagle River are clear. Clear, but not ready for baseball....not yet at least. This Saturday, the 28th of April, will be the Knik Little League clean up. Finally we are starting to get ready for the short, but extremely fun little league baseball season.

I started shooting Knik in 2004. Mainly because my nephew was on a majors team and I went to just about every game. I followed him through majors and juniors, and in 2005 and 2006, I photographed the entire Knik Little League season (almost all of 2006) and all of the All-Stars and State Tournaments that Knik hosted for 2006. I even umpired in 2005 for All-Stars and had a blast doing it. I am so looking forward to getting out of the high school gyms and the Sullivan Arena for some great baseball action.

Once again, I am going to be shooting the Action Photos for Knik Little League, and this year, the coverage will be even bigger. I have added some great new gear to my camera bag, longer, faster lenses and two super fast cameras. On top of that, I will be playing around with some remote cameras and a brand new technique for Knik, the Pole Cam. The pole cam will debut at the opening ceremonies, and will make appearances throughout the season. Also for 2007, I will be bringing a new photographer in to help me cover all the teams. It is a tough job trying to be at 5 fields at the same time. During the 2006/7 high school basketball season, I started mentoring a high school junior at Eagle River High School and she will be assisting me during the Little League season. She will mainly be covering the softball games, but you will see her at a few of the minors and majors baseball games and she will definitely be shooting some of the T-Ballers and Coach Pitch games. She is a very talented young photographer that will go on to very big things. We are very lucky to have her on board for this season.

We are also proud to announce a new product. Well, actually a few new products this season. We will debut some new magazine covers, and special trading cards as well as Photo Tickets throughout the season. These items will all be special order, so contact me for ordering information. But the biggest addition is really exciting. I am sure that many of you have seen the commercials for FatHeads, the life size photos of professional athletes that are cut out and stick to your wall, and can be moved and re-stuck over and over again? Well, we have that this season. They are very cool and start out at under $90, not including shipping. We can take any photo from our 2007 archives for Knik Little League and make it into one of these wall cut outs. These are great for your kids rooms, or for decorating your game room or media room. And they can be moved very easily. See http://digital-eos.com/knik.html for more information.

I look forward to seeing all of you in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Alaska Goes Wild

Alaska welcomed professional football to the state for the first time on April 12th 2007. The Intense Football League, or IFL, kicked off the seasons for the new pro team in Alaska, the Alaska Wild, facing the Frisco Thunder. The IFL is mainly based in the Texas area, and Frisco is located around the Dallas area, although, a lot of the Wild fans at the Sullivan arena for the game thought it was San Fransisco, CA, not Frisco, Texas. Here we see Delvin Myles of the Wild trying to pump up the Alaska crowd but it was not enough as the Wild could only score 33 points against the 46 points by the Frisco Thunder in both teams first game ever. Originally, the Wild were to play in the AF2, a development league for the AFL, or Arena Football League, but due to lack of funds, and a lack of a team at the time, the owners pulled the plug and decided not to have a season until 2008. Then after loosing their first coach (why coach if the games and team are not there), the IFL invited the Wild into their league and once again football was on for the 2007 season. A new head coach was hired and a team was quickly put together. A couple hours after the Wild lost to the Thunder, the ownership of the team announced that the 2nd head coach had been let go for various reasons, one of which was trying to bypass the IFL salary cap to get more money for at least one player. So, heading out on the road, for only their second game ever, the Wild are on their third coach.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Hogs are Back

The snow is hardly off the pavement and the rumble of two wheeled beasts are already filling the spring air of South Central Alaska. Even with the shorter than normal motorcycle season in Alaska, there are die hard riders that will brave the gravel covered roads and the risk of freezing rain or hail, to feel the wind in their hair for as long as they can. Here we see a biker heading up Eagle River Road to the Eagle River VFW on Tuesday, April 10th, 2007.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It Happens Every Spring

Every Spring in South Central Alaska when the snow melts the clean up begins. Here we see Ben, an employee of the Eagle River Holiday Gas Station sweeps up the gravel that once covered the icy parking lot. South Central streets and parking lots are now covered with dust and gravel and the next few weeks will be a massive cleanup from individual businesses, homes, and the Municipality of Anchorage. In order to keep the air quality high, the only thing people can do is sweep by hand or use street cleaners, hosing the gravel down first to keep the dust from getting airborne. Leaf blowers and air compressors are illegal for cleaning the gravel and Anchorage Police are out in force writing tickets for people who do not follow the rules during cleanup time.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Spring Thaw

Keith Oistad, a member of Joy Lutheran Church in Eagle River, Alaska, uses a shovel to cut through the ice in his church parking lot. Each Spring, as the warmer temperatures come, the back parking lot does not drain correctly and floods the church. Members chip away at the ice, trying to force the water to drain away from the building. The Men of Joy, at work group that meets once a month to do fix it projects around the church plan on digging up around the foundation to see where the water is coming in, and attempt to seal the leak, but currently, the church is very low on funds and is relying on weekly contributions from members just to try to pay the normal operating costs to stay open. Ideally, regrading the parking lot and adding better drainage would be the answer, but besides the leak, parts of the roof need replacing, furnaces need replacing, the building needs new carpet in a majority of the building, and the front parking lot needs to be sealed. But none of this can be completed until many bills are caught up and a reserve fund is built up. The church, a member of the ELCA and the Alaska Synod, is trying to bring in new members every week, but is finding it difficult as many new residents to the Eagle River area are either military and here for a limited time, or buying houses further and further away from Anchorage and Eagle River and going to churches closer to them.