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July 22 2010


Photojournalism student’s work captures attention of New Yorker visual editor

A photojournalism student from the University of Gloucestershire has had her work selected and commented on by Elisabeth Biondi, visual editor of the New Yorker.

Along with other final-year students on the photojournalism and documentary photography course, Deborah Coleman submitted a small selection of images from her major project on the Wootton Bassett repatriation to Source, a photography magazine.

Four students from other universities have also had their work analysed by Biondi for the magazine’s website.

See the full selection of images at this link…Similar Posts:

July 21 2010


Photojournalism: More than a photograph

A warm welcome for all of those who are coming to my site via Scott Kelby.

I was given a quite an opportunity to share my heart for visual storytelling and photojournalism when I was asked to be one of the weekly guest bloggers for Photoshop guru, trainer, and accomplished author Scott Kelby. I want to give a huge "thank you" to Brad Moore who works on Kelby's team for the generous invitation & honor to share anything my little heart desired about photography on such a well read blog.

For my friends, clients, and regulars, I hope you enjoy the blog post which gives a big-picture look at my thoughts on the power of relationship and the ability for photojournalism to impact lives.

July 07 2010


Apply now for the Ian Parry Scholarship – deadline extended to this Friday, July 9

Good news for anyone considering applying to this year’s Ian Parry Scholarship:

The Ian Parry Scholarship 2010 deadline has been extended to Friday 9th July 10am (UK Time). Applications are digital. FTP instructions and application forms are available from www.ianparry.org

The Ian Parry Scholarship is designed to award young photojournalists with a bursary that will enable them to undertake a chosen project and raise their profile in the international photographic community. The Scholarship is aimed at traditional or contemporary photojournalism and photographers with strong story telling capabilities.

Ian Parry was a photojournalist who died whilst on assignment for the Sunday Times during the Romanian revolution in 1989. He was just 24 years old. The Scholarship was set up by Aidan Sullivan and Ian’s friends and family in order to build something positive from such a tragic death.

The competition is for photographers on full-time photographic courses or who are 24 years or under. The prize is £3,000 towards an assignment, a commission for Save The Children plus £500 for runners up.

July 06 2010


ProPublica photographer followed by BP employee, detained by police

Police in England have come in for a fair amount of criticism recently for their treatment of photographers (see here and here), but their US counterparts have received some attention too after detaining freelance photographer Lance Rosenfeld, who was working for ProPublica at the time.

Rosenfeld was driving away after taking photos of a BP refinery in Texas City, Texas when he was followed by a BP employee, blocked off by two police cars and detained. Rosenfeld had remained in a public space outside the refinery while working. The police reviewed his pictures and recorded his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. According to Rosenfeld these details were then shared with BP.

Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief of ProPublica, said:

“We certainly appreciate the need to secure the nation’s refineries. But we’re deeply troubled by BP’s conduct here, especially when they knew we were working on deadline on critical stories about this very facility. And we see no reason why, if law enforcement needed to review the unpublished photographs, that should have included sharing them with a representative of a private company.”

Full story at this link…

via Fishbowl NY blogSimilar Posts:

June 21 2010


Knight News Challenge: How will Marines use new social media rules to tell the story of Afghanistan?

The U.S. Marine Corps lifted its ban on social media tools like Twitter and Facebook earlier this year. One Knight News Challenge Winner, Teru Kuwayama, wants to chronicle what that new policy means, and perhaps even change the way the U.S. receives and consumes news about war.

Kuwayama is a photojournalist who has spent the last nine years photographing Afghanistan as a freelance journalist. (He spent this last year at Stanford as a Knight Fellow.) His idea is an outgrowth of his experiences documenting the war and his frustration with the coverage that results from quick embed stints by professional journalists. The opportunity for Marines to use new tools to share information has the potential to give the public a better understanding of an important story. At the same time, he hopes to set up an infrastructure for reporters to connect better with the military, improving stories before they go out, and giving soldiers a chance at feedback.

I spoke with Kuwayama about his plans for the $202,000 grant. He says he departs for Afghanistan this September, joining the 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines (hence the name of his project, One-Eight) for the duration of their tour, which should last seven months, but could extend up to a year. He’ll rotate in other journalists during the project for shorter periods. He expects those reporters will also produce work for their own outlets. Kuwayama is still working out some questions around his project — like to what extent he’s documenting how the marines are using social media, versus fostering that use, or repackaging their content for the public.

June 15 2010


Missouri Photo Workshop now accepting applications, deadline July 14

The Missouri Photo Workshop was, “a defining time for me as a photographer. I will take MPW skills with me for the rest of my life, ” said Chad Ziemendorf who last year photographed MPW61 and joined hundreds of other photographers who say that the Workshop has changed their lives.

The Caregiver by Chad Zimendorf/MPW 61, 2009

The Caregiver by Chad Zimendorf/MPW 61, 2009

David Alan Harvey who photographed MPW19, in 1967 has said, “The Missouri Workshop was a watershed experience in my life. It was the single most important experience that I had in my early twenties that pushed things forward for me from then on. I use that Missouri philosophy every day of my working life now at both National Geographic and with Magnum.”

MPW has documented small town America for six decades, shaping the working methods of more than 2,000 photographers from around the world. Guided by some of the world’s leading photographers and editors, participants are challenged to develop both their researching and visual storytelling skills.

Sedalia by Donna Coveney/MPW32, 1980

The deadline for application is July 14. Some scholarships are available.

Check out the Web site for more background information on the Workshop and for the downloadable application.

Faculty this year will include: Dennis Dimick, National Geographic executive editor, Randy Cox, senior editor for visuals at The Oregonian, Lois Raimondo, former staff photographer at the Washington Post and now teaching at West Virginia, Kim Komenich, former staff photographer at the San Francisco Chronicle and now teaching at San Jose State, MaryAnne Golon, former director of photography at Time magazine and now photography editor and media consultant, Randy Olson freelance for National Geographic, Melissa Farlow, freelance for National Geographic, and others. The Missouri Photo Workshop is sponsored by the Missouri School of Journalism, with significant support from Nikon Professional Services and the Missouri Press Association Foundation.

“When I came back from the Workshop to my job at the Los Angeles Times I felt so energized and confident…I felt like I could find stories anywhere and get the job done,” said Beatrice de Gea who photographed MPW56 in 2004.

We hope you will apply or tell a photojournalist friend who you think would be interested.

MPW62 will be held in Macon, Missouri September 26 – October 2.

May 11 2010


Crowdsourcing goes global: The NYT’s “Moment in Time”

Visit the New York Times’ Lens blog today, and you’ll find an image slightly different from the high-quality photographs that normally populate the outlet: a spinning globe, highly stylized, its surface popping with piles of pictures.

“Here it is,” the site announces: “Earth, covered by stacks of thousands of virtual photographs, corresponding in location to where they were taken by Lens readers at one ‘Moment in Time.’”

The moment in question? Sunday before last, at 11 a.m. EST — the time when the paper asked its users to take photos in an image-gathering project that was equal parts collaborative art and crowdsourcing on steroids.

The invitation to participate:

Attention: everyone with a camera, amateur or pro. Please join us on Sunday, May 2, at 15:00 (U.T.C./G.M.T.), as thousands of photographers simultaneously record “A Moment in Time.” The idea is to create an international mosaic, an astonishingly varied gallery of images that are cemented together by the common element of time.

The feature’s editors — James Estrin, who conceived of it and oversaw its implementation, David Dunlap (who wrote much of the project’s witty instructions and textual updates), and Josh Haner (who, along with Aron Pilhofer, Jacqui Maher, and the Times’ vaunted interactive news team, helped facilitate the behind-the-scenes tech masterminding) — expected that the blog’s invitation would elicit a couple thousand photos. And that organizing and presenting them would take a couple days.

But: they received, in the end, over 10,000 user-generated submissions, Estrin told me — from photographers amateur and professional, from around the world. (Actually, they received over 13,000 at first — then removed some from the pile when it became obvious, whether by lighting or timestamp or other indicators, that the photos weren’t, in fact, taken at the allotted time.) And the process of organizing all that content took well over a week — a fact about which Dunlap repeatedly (and wittily) apologized. In a post entitled “Patience,” Dunlap wrote, “We have to ask it of you once again. Our interactive ‘Moment in Time’ gallery isn’t ready yet.”

We were bold — O.K., maybe a bit foolhardy — to think we would only need two or three days to prepare a complex three-dimensional computer display showing more than 13,000 photographs from around the world; organized geographically and searchable by topic, with captions and photo credits as coherent and accurate as possible. It’s obviously taken us longer than that and will almost certainly take us a day or two more. (We’re getting out of the prediction business for now.) We simply hadn’t had the experience of dealing with such numbers before. The popular “Documenting the Decade” project, for example, drew only 2,769 submissions.

Please bear with us while we take the time we need to get it right…Be assured that we’ll post as soon as we can. And don’t think for a moment that we’ve been using this time to weed out pictures of cats, dogs, tulips and coffee cups. There’ll be plenty.

And plenty, indeed, there are. The pictures (sortable by fellow-user recommendation, but also by Community, Arts and Entertainment, Family, Money and the Economy, Nature and the Environment, Play, Religion, Social Issues, Work, and — my personal favorite — Other) are, in general, high-quality and compelling. There’s the predictable fare — meditative close-ups of flowers, pictures of cats — but there’s also more surprising and evocative stuff: a grandmother and grandson in Bangladesh, a couple lounging in bed (caption: “My boyfriend and I planned a big adventure for Sunday morning, but we both ended up sick”), an Amish horse-and-buggy (caption: “We live in a part of Pennsylvania where wifi and No-fi coexist pretty well”).

“A Moment in Time” (and, with that, I’ll try not to use the project’s name again in this post — so that you won’t, as I did, get something unfortunate stuck in your head as a result of repeated exposure) is aesthetically compelling and socially revealing. It also suggests the Times’ openness to exploring avenues of documentation and expression that don’t fall into the neat categories of traditional journalism.

“I was driving to work, and it just hit me: Okay, we’ll get thousands of people around the world to take a photograph at the same moment,” Estrin told me of the project’s inception. And the goals of the project mix the artistic and the journalistic to the point that it’s difficult to tell where the journalism ends and the aesthetic begins: first, to produce a valuable document, one that records — to an extent — a particular moment as it’s lived out across the world. Second, from the social media angle, to facilitate the sense of shared identity that comes with “doing things as a community around the world — doing the same things at the same time.” Ultimately, Estrin says, the project was about “the intentional profundity of the moment.”

Whether the feature represents journalism, or something more, or something less, the reaction it’s received from Times users offers a lesson for news organizations chasing after the holy grail-and-sometimes-white-whale that is reader engagement. If the project’s participatory outpouring is any indication, it has struck a nerve with Times users. In a good way. And the ‘why’ in that is instructive. The project involved an assignment with specific instructions; users weren’t merely being asked for something — a hazy invitation to contribute — but to provide something specific, and easily attainable. And to provide something, moreover, that would be part of a project with a clearly defined, but also inspiring, purpose: to document the world, via its many corners, at a particular moment. That mix of depth and breadth, of pragmatism and idealism, can be a potent incitement to action — a fact evidenced by the thousands of images currently blanketing the globe over at the Lens blog.

May 05 2010


Pierre and Alexandra Boulat Grant accepting applications

Applications are now being accepted for the Pierre and Alexandra Boulat Grant. Deadline is June 30, 2010.

Formed in the memory of Pierre and Alexandra Boulat by friends and family after the death of Alexandra Boulat in 2007, the Association seeks to keep the spirit of father and daughter alive through making their work available to the public and creating an annual grant to a photographer and sponsoring the education of young photographers.

This 8,000 Euro grant will be awarded to a photographer covering a social, economic, political or cultural issue in a journalistic manner to “produce a story that has never been told but that the photographer cannot find support for within the media.” The grant will be awarded this fall at Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, France.

For more details and to download the application form, go here: http://www.viiphoto.com/association.html

May 04 2010


Looking at jQuery for visual journalism

With all this talk about the so-called death of Adobe Flash, the future of HTML5, etc., I thought I should take a closer look at jQuery. This post is intended to give you an overview and help you decide whether you too should take a closer look.

My first thought is that if you have weak skills in CSS (or no CSS skills at all), you can’t even think about using jQuery. You would need to improve your CSS skills before you tackled jQuery.

With that out of the way (sorry if that ruined your day), let’s note that:

  • jQuery is JavaScript.
  • jQuery is free and not a commercial product.
  • The home and source of jQuery is jQuery.com. You can download it there.

As an introduction, I really liked this: jQuery Tutorials for Designers. It shows you what jQuery makes possible on today’s Web pages, and even if you don’t want to look at the code, you can open each of the 10 examples and click and see what it does. So in about 15 minutes, you will have a better idea about jQuery’s usefulness.

This example is my favorite: Image Replacement. It’s simple, and it’s really easy to apply this to all kinds of visual journalism situations that an online designer might encounter.

Many of the other examples are things I wouldn’t bother to do on Web pages, even though they look cool. I was reminded of how a lot of people are saying Flash is unnecessary because you can do all the menu effects and flyovers with JavaScript instead. These examples prove that. Of course, my view of Flash is not to use it for eye candy (like most of these jQuery examples), but instead to use it for complex explanatory journalism, like this.

For a very nice slideshow built with jQuery, see this tutorial: Create a Slick and Accessible Slideshow Using jQuery.

There’s also a nifty jQuery plug-in for making a slideshow: Coda-Slider (thanks to Lauren Rabaino for that link!).

Here’s another good tutorial for a slideshow: Automatic Image Slider w/ CSS & jQuery.

For the geeks among you, read why you should link to Google’s copy of jQuery instead of using a version on your own Web host.

And finally, the ever-helpful Chrys Wu (@MacDivaONA) recommended these free video tutorials for learning jQuery.


Eric Maierson speaking at Ohio University, May 5th


MediaStorm producer Eric Maierson will be speaking about multimedia production at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio on Wednesday May 5th at 8:00 p.m.

The event will take place at Mitchell Auditorium, Seigfred Hall on the 5th floor.

The talk is free and open to the public.

If you’re in the neighborhood, come by and say hello.


May 03 2010


Feedback website “Finding the Frame” launches

Finding the Frame, a website dedicated to giving feedback to newspaper multimedia producers and video journalists has launched.

My post in Mastering Multimedia last month,  “Video at newspapers needs to improve,” resonated with many people. I received lots emails from producers who vented their frustration at not being able to get feedback on their multimedia stories.

After a brainstorming session over a few beers, Brian Immel, a former multimedia producer and programmer at The Spokesman-Review, graciously agreed to build a website for the sole purpose of connecting those who need feedback on their multimedia, to professionals willing to share some time and knowledge.

Here’s how it works

The plan is to have onboard as many “expert” volunteers as possible that have solid foundations in video storytelling, audio slide shows or Flash projects. This pool of reviewers will peruse the submitted links of multimedia in the “Story Pool”. If they decide to comment on a story, it will then become public on the Finding the Frame home page where anyone else is free to give added feedback.

So why do this?

While most publications have driven head first into the online world, multimedia storytelling is still in its infancy at many newspapers. Unfortunately, not all people tasked with producing multimedia received adequate training or had the financial ability to attend a multimedia storytelling workshop. Many multimedia producers are self-taught, having picked up bit and pieces of knowledge along the way.

When I judge a multimedia contest, I often get frustrated at seeing the same problems in the execution of basic video and audio production fundamentals. Many photojournalists are struggling with how to tell an effective video or audio slideshow story that is different from the traditional still picture story.

Our hope is that Finding the Frame will begin to address the need for feedback and in turn, help multimedia producers improve their storytelling. Just read some of the comments by reviewers so far–you’ll be impressed. The professionals that have signed on as reviewers are the some of the top in the industry. If they critique your story, please thank them for giving up some of their precious time to help out a fellow visual journalist.

What we need

What we need is for enough producers, multimedia editors and photojournalists who have a solid experience with multimedia storytelling to step forward and share some of their knowledge with those that are looking for constructive, honest feedback.

So if you feel you have something to offer, we would really like you to join the pool of reviewers on Finding the Frame.

So go check it out and give Brian and me some feedback. Create an account. Upload a link to a video, audio slide show or Flash project. Be patient, as it might take some time for your story to get reviewed

I am not sure how many people will upload stories, so let’s take this slow at first. It would also be helpful if non-reviewers could give some feedback to others by commenting on their work.

If you would like to be added to the reviewer pool, register your account, making sure you create a profile and upload a photo of yourself or avatar, then email me at cmulvany@findingtheframe.com with the request.

This website is for you. We would really appreciate your support and feedback.

April 12 2010


A community of coal: Divided by a company

Wow, talk about a catch-22. I hope you understand their lives and their story better having watched this. I just finished this @ 3 a.m. and I'm finally pleased with how this story unfolds.

April 09 2010


7 examples of exceptional Flash packages

These come from USA Today, The Washington Post, the ABC (Australia’s public broadcaster), Reuters, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Seven examples, seven news organizations. Yes, they are all large news organizations. But I’d like to make the point that (contrary to what some Flash detractors have said) it’s not only The New York Times that is doing outstanding work in Flash online.

I chose these examples to show to journalism students who are near the end of their 10 weeks of instruction in designing and producing multimedia news packages.

Haiti earthquake: An expandable package that was updated with new photos, videos and audio throughout the 10 days following the earthquake. Note the added audio in the lower right corner — not every photo had this, so it was optional to include it. Videos appear seamlessly within the same interface (in the location of the still photo). Each photo has a headline, and that headline text appears at the top when you roll over the squares representing individual segments. A very classy package with a clear design and clean functionality. Exceptional: Highly adaptable to future breaking news or retrospectives. See an earlier version of the same interface: Decade in Review.

Local fashion videos: Outstanding interviews, still photos and editing make these short videos exceptional. The choice of more than a dozen well-known locations around Washington, D.C. (e.g., Eastern Market, Union Station) situates each story in a place that has a recognizable flavor and style. To bundle these first-rate stories in a clean, easy-to-use interface that encourages browsing — and includes a map — was brilliant. Bummer: No way to bookmark or e-mail link to an individual video. Bonus: Easy-to-use link list of all videos. (New ones are still being added.) Overkill: Too-elaborate Flash-based comments segment.

Black Saturday: Coverage of the worst bush fires in the history of Australia, in which 173 people died and more than 4,500 sq. km. of land burned — organized by both time and location in a manner that encourages browsing and also conveys the huge scope of the disaster. Exceptional: Use of embedded anchor points, which allow you to bookmark any segment, or e-mail a direct link to someone (see example). Exceptional: Integration of Google Earth mapping (see example). See also the amazing map locator that appears below the grid.

Economic crisis: A timeline starting with August 2007 and ending with September 2009 documents “The Year of Global Change” with text, photos and videos in an expandable interface that provides easy switching between detail view (individual items) and the overview grid. The detail you viewed last appears in the leftmost column when you return to the grid view. Bonus: Very easy to step forward and back from within the detail view. Bummer: There is no bookmarking (no embedded anchor points).

Piano Jazz: Highlighting 30 hand-picked examples of jazz musicians performing on the radio program Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, this 6 x 5 grid opens up 30 overlay segments that include an audio player, a photo of the artist, and a short text. Although this package might appear complex to the uninitiated, it is actually very straightforward. My students are fully capable of building this package right now, with a combination of XML and sound controls. Notable: Clean, appealing design, ease of use, restraint. I love it that the audio was edited down from the full-length program to feature one song performed by the guest.

Afghanistan map: This map has been updated, often daily, since February 2009. Look at the calendar selector on the left side; select any day to see all reported events on that day. Each event is located on the map with an icon that indicates its type, e.g., bomb, fighting, offensive, air attack. Roll over the icon to read a summary of the event. Exceptional: Use of external data to update (frequently!) a long-term continuing story. Bonus: Great icon design and a very clear legend box.

End of the Line: I’ve chosen this from the many great examples at The New York Times for two reasons. First, it demonstrates a versatile loaded overlay (see screen capture below): Some of the segments include video, most do not, and many include multiple still photos (some include only one photo). The navigation interface at the top of each segment (Previous and Next buttons, plus numbered buttons that indicate exactly how many photos the segment includes) is an exceptionally friendly way to present varied photo sets. Second, the two views of the intro (Map and Thumbnail) add immensely to the appeal of the package. As a former New Yorker, I am drawn in by the Map view, but I would guess that lovers of photography find the Thumbnail view more enticing.

April 08 2010


West Virginia community hopes and prays

I've been in West Virginia for 24 hrs now and it's tough being here. There could still be miners alive but the chances are slim. It's tough being here. Off to a prayer vigil...

April 06 2010


Check out the future of photography: The current issue of Nieman Reports

Written journalism isn’t the only form being radically transformed by technology. Sure, the Internet may have eliminated the monopoly that the Gotham Morning News enjoyed, and any web page could be one link away from the attention of millions. But photojournalism is also having both its distribution model and its production model changed. The old client news organizations aren’t paying any more (at least not as much). The price of quality cameras has dropped so much that a skill-less amateur can, almost by accident, create a great shot. And a good photo gets spread around the Internet so quickly that maintaining ownership — and the money that comes with it — can be almost impossible.

Those issues are some of the ones that the current issue of Nieman Reports wrestles with. Where is photojournalism headed? Is it into a headlong embrace of new technologies? Toward a business model that can sustain professional work? Or toward a model in which an army of cameraphones are good enough? As Nieman Reports editor Melissa Ludtke puts it in her intro to the issue:

Photojournalism’s destination and audience, once pre-ordained by the news organizations that paid the cost of doing business, are now in flux. Digital possibilities are limitless, but what is now required of photojournalists are an entrepreneurial mindset and a facility with digital tools. On the Web, photographs now act as gateways to information and context, to stories told by participants and conversations held by viewers.

Here are some of the stories Lab readers will be interested in:

— Ed Kashi writes about shifting to multimedia in the age of declining traditional media.

— Brian Storm talks with Melissa about the new digital distribution model for photography.

— VII’s Stephen Mayes talks about the shifting roles of photo agencies.

— Ian Ginsberg compares photojournalism’s changes to those of the music industry.

— Turi Munthe explains the digital wire service they’ve built at Demotix.

The entire issue is worth your time.

April 05 2010


A White House Easter

This little dude was stoked! Mi photo favorito. Garrett Hubbard/USA TODAY ©2010

What a beautiful day for this year's White House Easter Egg Roll. Would you believe that there were 30,000 people in attendance with people from all 50 states? Yes, crazy I know. Enjoy the photos!

March 23 2010


#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – inspiration for visual journalism

Photojournalism: The Nieman Foundation has created a fantastic resource charting developments in photojournalism, as well as some inspirational work, on its new visual journalism site. Worth a look by photojournalists - new and old. Tipster: Laura Oliver. To submit a tip to Journalism.co.uk, use this link - we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

March 22 2010


Lauren Victoria Burke’s WDCPIX: A photojournalist builds business by aiming at sites that can’t afford wires

Lauren Victoria Burke’s strategy for success in the world of political photography is simple: undercut the Associated Press.

Burke runs a one-woman photography wire service in Washington, D.C. called WDCPIX that allows monthly subscribers to download as many of the hundreds of political photos available as they want. Her shots rival those of staff photographers working on the Hill; she typically covers congressional hearings and major public events in the city. She doesn’t guarantee specific event coverage, but does take requests and tries to accommodate her customers.

As a solo roving photographer in one of the world’s most photographed cities, she’s been able to build a business by targeting clients with budgets that won’t allow big costs for photography. About 25 to 30 of her clients are regulars; most pay a flat $260 monthly fee, although some have special arrangements. Subscribers include sites like Talking Points Memo and The Washington Independent; I became familiar with WDCPIX when I worked at both.

“Basically what you want to do is…create a business model that can undercut the bigger sites,” Burke told me. “There are a lot of news entities out there that can’t afford Associated Press or Getty or any of those guys. So you’re trying to create an environment where the smaller news entities out there, particularly with all these blogs around, they can subscribe to WDCPIX and make it very straightforward.”

For anyone familiar with the story of iStockphoto, the possibility of disruption in the photo business is nothing new. And while WDCPIX isn’t a breakout smash at iStockphoto’s scale, it shares a shift in the basic economics of the industry.

When Burke started out as an independent — she spent time at USA Today and the AP, among others — her focus was on bigger clients like C-SPAN and ABC News. She still does regular work for larger outlets, along with occasional clients in the nonprofit and advocacy sectors, like Defenders of Wildlife, and a few corporate clients like FedEx and Starbucks. (“A lot of times people are doing an annual report or they’re doing a brochure or they’re doing a website and they want to brighten it up with some photos,” she said.)

The business side

Burke runs every aspect of her business, including marketing. One tactic she says worked well in attracting new business is requiring online publications to credit WDCPIX.

“That particularly helped with TPMMuckraker because I got involved with them when they were pretty new. So when other people saw that, the other sites that hoped to become like TPM, would see that and call,” she explained. “It’s sort of a small ad. It works really well.”

She also works the typical marketing strategies like sending out mailers to potential clients, blasting email messages, and word-of-mouth. When she first launched the site, she says connections in her previous jobs at USA Today and The Hill were valuable in reaching clients.

When I asked Burke if she got investment money to start the site, she laughed — heartily. Burke said she kept her startup costs incredibly low and she covered them herself. The site runs on out-of-the-box software from Image Folio. She designed the site herself. She pays about $120 a month for a web server. The site’s billing, which she handles herself, is done almost completely online. She has no physical office; most days, she’ll do the journalism side of things from the press gallery in the Senate. Sometimes she does her business work from her home office or a coffee shop.

Burke decided to leave her job as a photo editor at USA Today and go solo was more the result of her independent streak than her interest in the future of media. “You end up working for a bunch of people and at some point, you want to be in more control of what you’re doing and what you’re covering,” she explained. “So owning a website like that and running your own photo service allows you to do that. It’s truly liberating.”

I asked her if she would have done as well if she’s gone a slightly more traditional route, setting up a portfolio website and working as a freelancer rather than setting up a subscription service.

“No. No way. So many people see it that would not normally have seen my stuff if I just had a typical portfolio website up, that we’ve all seen. Nothing wrong a photo website — but when you have this kind of subscription website, you have the payment tied into the site in a way you would not normally have if you just had a portfolio. The person has to go the extra step to expedite payment, expedite the business end. A lot of people are looking for, “Okay, I paid the money, now I want to download as many pictures as I want,” or whatever. I don’t think my photography would be as successful if I had a non-subscription, non-cash site.”


When I asked Burke what advice she would give to other photojournalists, she didn’t hesitate.

“I think one of the things is not to get too pigeonholed into one thing because we don’t live in the same universe we used to live in,” she said. “Not too long ago, in the ’80s and ’90s, you could sustain yourself on a staff job some place and do just fine. Now, the more things that you can do, the better. A lot of photographers, for some reason, don’t like writing. I really think the writing thing is huge. Even though people shy away from the idea of being a one-man band because it’s so much work, it does put you in the position where you could potentially be doing your own stuff, by yourself, without a lot of interference and middlemen involved, editors, et cetera. And it can be lucrative. It can be a living.”

All photos courtesy Lauren Victoria Burke.

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