I had the opportunity to speak with a photojournalism class, taught by Ira Gardner, at Spokane Falls Community College. It was good to see students wanting to enter the field, even though there have been many newspaper layoffs.
I briefly showed a few of my photos. We also discussed ethics, a core topic. But, what I really wanted to do was see student work. The class assignment was to interview and photograph a fellow classmate. Each student wrote a story, created a contact sheet of photos and pulled out one photo they felt was strongest.
The photographs that drew me in the most were the ones where students chose a location that was representative of who they were as a person. The students in those photos looked comfortable and belonged. It told me a little about their story.
One think I consider when preparing to photograph an environmental portrait is whether or not the location is representative of the subject. It’s part of the storytelling process. I think the students who took part in this project understand that as a photojournalist they are a storytellers.
What also impressed me was that each student was ready and willing to defend their work. Why was the location picked? Why did you pick this photo instead of others in your contact sheet? I think that might be the best part of guest lecturing, learning about how other people think and how they come up with their photos.
I think that working photojournalists should commit time to guest speak in a class, if they are given the opportunity. It is a chance to share what knowledge you have but it is a great chance to learn about what the next generation of photojournalists have to offer, how they are thinking and how they might mold the industry in the future.