Week 5: Feature articles & photography

Pic: Stephen Archer. John interviewing Jessica Lamond from Hackney Laces.

Pic: Stephen Archer. John interviewing Jessica Lamond from Hackney Laces.

The Big Issue Online Journalist course welcomed guest tutor, award winning journalist and Pulitzer prize nominee Veronique Mistiaen – a freelance journalist who writes a regular blog about human rights, which you can access here

Veronique talked to us about feature writing and how pictures and words can work together to provide in-depth, engaging content. The five W’s of who, what, where, when, why provide a question format for interviews. My background is teaching English as a foreign language so I have plenty experience of writing but it’s the photography that is a completely new challenge to me.

We were set a practical assignment, which involved travelling to Soho to interview Jess Lamond, a player and trainer with women’s football team, the Hackney Laces. I was working with John Watts, another trainee on the journalism course who was tasked with the writing. I was given the role of photographer. The tutor accompanying us was Rob Johns, who is a professional photographer and also teaches photography. You can see his work here

John has a background in screenwriting and knew the area well from his experience in the film industry. We arrived on time, which is always a good start for any appointment. Jess showed us to the room which was all white with large windows to one side.

My thoughts were focussed on a need to return a professional outcome. In my experience trepidation is cured by being organised. Rob had already thought about the light and asked Jess if she would be happy to sit with a clutter free background with plenty of light. John started the interview, making notes and used my smartphone for recording.

Rob helped me tremendously throughout. I thought I would just take pictures at the end but Rob told me to shoot throughout the interview to get a wide variety of photos and encouraged me to continue shooting even when I thought I had taken enough.

Taking a picture with Rob is about thinking about the light and composition and getting as much variety as possible during the interview. I found myself encouraged to capture different pictures and angles. It became easier in the time we had. Manual mode allows for individual adjustments. Automatic options do free the photographer up but cameras have their limitations. With action photos especially there is little time to stop to make changes. Once being given a free rein l began enjoying the opportunity to make a positive contribution to The Big Issue Online Journalists Course.

Back in the classroom John wrote the report and Rob showed me how to upload pictures to a computer and how to make adjustments like cropping using Photoshop. My skills are improving with a better understanding of how to take effective pictures.

You can see John’s article with my pictures on this blog.

Many thanks to everyone.

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