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Switching the pen for a camera

By Billy O'Keefe

ANA BRETON / The Working Press
In a world where news has slowly shifted from paper to Web pages, it has become increasingly important that staff members of any media corporation learn each other’s jobs.
In fact, says David Handschuh, it’s not surprising to see radio reporters interviewing people with a video camera and reporters shooting pictures from the sideline of a breaking story.
?“If you can’t do them all, you’re not going to find yourself employed,” said Handschuh, photographer at the New York Daily News.
Handschuh taught mostly non-photographers, including reporters and radio journalists, about the basics of photography during a workshop Thursday.?
An essential skill in photography, he said, is being able to admit that you are “a dinosaur” when it comes to being stuck with old technology and being able to adapt to new types of media.?
“I am a dinosaur,” Handschuh said. “But I learn from you and learn from other journalists, constantly. I am a dinosaur, but I will survive.”?
Once journalists have accepted their prehistoric ways, Handschuh said, they need to learn about photography, including how to find feature pictures, how to shoot pictures in new ways and how to approach photo spreads.? Reporters can find stories by browsing through Cragslist.com, reading the Yellow Pages and simply by talking to people.
?“You have to know your way around. You are your own best reference point,” Handschuh said. “Learn how to talk to people. It’s a missing art form.”?
Feature photography can also come out of annual events, which may seem to be boring, Handschuh said.? The key to photographing annual events, like conferences, holidays or celebrations, is finding creative ways to approach the subject or different angles from which to shoot.
?“Life is not from eye level,” he said. “Change your angles, try worm’s-eye view or bird’s-eye view.”
?”Another way to find new stories is to attend events journalists are not used to covering,” he said.?
“Ever been to a Chinese wedding? It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” he said. “We need to acknowledge that there are people in our community that are different than we’re used to.”?
Handschuh suggested that journalists partake in a “four corners project,” where they stay at an intersection for eight hours beginning at 8 a.m. to see how a block of a neighborhood changes throughout the day. Through the project, he said, reporters should switch the type of media they are used to by dumping a notebook for a camera, for example.
And the eight-hour project is just the beginning in learning new types of media, something Isabelle Roughol has been through.?
Roughol, a student at the University of Missouri and a member of the executive cabinet of the university’s SPJ chapter, said she has found the value in learning about photography, even though she is following the magazine editorial sequence at her school.?
“It not only helps you build your resume,” said Roughol, who attended the lecture, “but in media you really have to learn how to do everything, if not at least try everything.”?
That’s something that could help her during her ideal career: being a foreign correspondent.
?“I just want to get a pick-up truck with a laptop and a notebook and a recorder and film something in Africa,” she said. “That’s my dream.”