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|| News Item: Posted 2008-05-28

Changing Jobs Of Newspaper Photographer: The ViewFinder is Born
By Dan Powers, Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by
For me, the summer of 2007 will be remembered for much more than the time spent enjoying the new convertible my wife and I purchased; much more than vacation time or grilling out on the patio. All were memorable moments, but not exactly life changing. Nope, 2007 was a year of big change and I have to admit I was less than enthusiastic to embrace it. It was the year of the ViewFinder.

So what do I mean? Well, back in the early part of last year, we started toying with a Marantz audio recorder and matching sound with photographs. We dabbled in SoundSlides for the occasional story here and there. As summer approached, our assistant photo editor/photojournalist Sharon Cekada came up with an idea and presented it during a staff meeting.

Essentially, Sharon thought it would be cool for us to produce a photo column; a photo column with a twist. To start, the photographers would generate the stories, herself included. Second, we write the stories. And third…and this is the big part…we would produce an audio slideshow (which now can be a video at the photographer's discretion) to go with it. Oh, we would also run one on our Community page EVERY Friday.

What this meant for each of us is that we needed to do this every five weeks. And so it began…

Initially I think we had reactions of all sorts. I wasn't thrilled myself because the first time I tried audio was at a cross country meet and I literally fell on my butt after tripping over my headphone cord. I couldn't fathom trying to lug all my normal gear plus audio gathering gear at the same time. On the other hand, others were more than willing and actually excited about our new endeavor.

Fast-forward to today and I must admit I was way off. I'm not saying gathering audio and shooting effectively is easy. I'm just saying that with practice it can be done. I went from hating it to loving it in a pretty short period of time. It forced me to spend more time out there looking for stories; stories that leant themselves to audio, which is the key.

Most of my projects have been anything but sports related. However, I managed to get a couple in there over the months. Why am I telling you this? Well, our jobs are changing and I think it's important that you at least give it a try.

ViewFinder has been very successful both in our print edition as well as our website. It's a great stepping-stone for those of you/us who are contemplating trying a video project. In fact, I would highly recommend you get comfortable with audio slideshows before you jump into video. I'm guessing it would make the transition much less painful.

At our paper we use a very small recorder called the Edirol R09. I have done stories using Sony wireless mics, a Rode external mic or even just the Edirol itself. The nice thing is the small size. And when you're shooting and recording at the same time it's best to keep things simple. I keep the recording gear in my Think Tank Speed demon and try to use only my two cameras. Nothing more if possible. Enough of the tech talk.

It's been a lot of fun seeing what my colleagues will come up with next. They motivate me do try to do better on each project. Heck, it's tough keeping up with them. But it's that friendly, competitive drive I think most photojournalists have that makes it fun to see just how far you can push yourself.

So, take it from a guy who used to scoff at the idea of doing anything more than trying to do his best at capturing the moment with a camera. Try something new. You never know, you might actually like it and in the process, make yourself that much more an asset to the newsroom. Have fun! Dan.

A few examples:

To see more work from our entire staff go to

Click on Multi-media and then slideshows.

(Dan Power is a staff photographer with the Appleton The Post-Crescent and has covered the Green Bay Packers for 18 years. He writes a regular blog for the paper: You can see his member page here:

Related Links:
Dan's member page

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