September Photo Round Up

I felt very close to my work this month. The closest I've felt since I was a student and I couldn't take criticism because I was too close to the work. 

It has a lot to do with my community. The people who have let me in, told me their stories, welcomed me. It's in feeling at home at the local high school football games, feeling appreciated here, knowing I'm in a good place with great stories.

Happy October, everyone. Get spooky. 

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August Photo Round Up

I survived my first complete month as a staff photographer! 

The eclipse was incredible. It was heartwarming to see so many people come together. A reporter and I went nearly two hours away to hang out with Kansas State University alumni. In the future, I hope to find a cool foreground for my sun photo, like I know I should have. I lucked out with a little cloud but also lost totality to clouds. Either way, it was an experience I won't forget anytime soon!

The first day of school always makes me incredibly emotional. I'm relatively fresh out of school, and the end of August is still a huge marker in time for me, though it holds little meaning in my personal day to day. I spent that morning in the kindergarten wing of an elementary school, waiting for the precious first day of big kid school moments. 

The army base in town is celebrating one hundred years of service. I spent most of a week on base, making photos of soldiers and their families. My favorite photos, though, came from the Veterans Welcome Home Ceremony, where veterans got to enjoy the modern redeployment celebrations.

 There was a vigil in town for Charlottesville and I was blessed with amazing light. It was incredibly healing to make images and know I'm not alone in my pain.

It was a month of ups and downs, ending in the pep rally ahead of the Kansas State University first football game. This city comes alive when the students return. 

Enjoy my August in photos. 

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July 2017 Photos of the Month

 It's been an incredible journey in the short four weeks I've been a staffer at the Manhattan Mercury. I'm so lucky to be here.

Starting in early July allowed me to see the way my community celebrates Independence Day, which included a parade full of farming equipment and a fireworks display that rivals Disney World with no exaggeration. 

I've explored a rural cowboy themed church, experienced active shooter training, and photographed baseball in the blazing Kansas heat. 

It's been quite a few months since I've done a monthly round up, and I'm so excited to be back at it.  I hope August brings as much fun, and as always, stronger photos. 

The Cowboy Country Church

I wrote my first cover story today for the Manhattan Mercury. I was so welcomed at the Cowboy Country Church. They're a lively crowd that starts each service with a "yeehaw!" 

I'm very excited to share these photos with you. I had a wonderful time making them. To see the page design and read the story, click here. 

Dear Young(er) Photographer

Dear Young(er) Photographer,

This blog post is what I needed to hear about a year ago.

I’d like to talk to you about finding stories. It’s hard, especially when you’re fielding regular assignments, general adulthood, and a social life. Do it anyway.

It might mean that you’re working on Sunday morning, or Friday night, or a holiday, or on your birthday. Chase them anyway.

Being able to bring in your own stories makes you more valuable in a newsroom, makes you a better journalist, and makes you a stronger storyteller.

Recently, I found four story ideas at a parade, and two on the local radio station. I learned that one of the police officers here breeds and sells snakes on the side because I was joking with the public information officer. Wouldn’t that be a fun profile?

Dive into your community. Listen to local radio, get a library card, find where the high schoolers hang out, the college kids, the moms, and the sports fans. Talk to people. Listen. They’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Be ridiculous in keeping notes. Remember who you’ve spoken to, collect business cards. Make connections. People are the only way you can localize national news.

Get off the Internet. Get out of your car. Using your feet makes you approachable, makes you more mindful. It’s a way to invite stories in. Go to the visually uninteresting events and, again, talk to people. The best stories won’t be anywhere on the Internet anyway.

Consider rejection part of the game. Will the police officer let me photograph him holding snakes? I don’t know, but I certainly must ask. If you’re told no, no big deal. You’ve accomplished a little something in and of itself.

If you’re stuck, no list of story ideas or calendar events will help. You just have to see what’s out there.

Good Luck, 

Taylor. 

My First Week as a Staff Photojournalist

I am incredibly happy to say that I've finally landed a job in photojournalism. It's an opportunity I've worked toward since I was 18, and something I'm very proud of. 

I highly recommend July 3rd as a start date. I had a blast covering a carnival on Monday, fireworks and a parade on Tuesday, laser tag on Wednesday, and a whole host of other little assignments surrounding the holiday.  

At the Fourth of July parade, I discovered some groups I'd like to do photo stories on, learned the importance of farming equipment to the community (25 floats worth), and really got to see people interact with each other at an event in a small town. It was definitely a special experience. 

I'm having a blast in Kansas despite the warm weather and strange evening heat of the day. I've met incredible people, discovered some sincerely lovely places, and found some weekend midnight food trucks. 

Here's my first week at the Manhattan Mercury in photos. 

I'd had to kick this off with my first assignment on Monday morning! I found myself traveling to Chicago and back during the first few days of July. What really struck me was the differences in firework sales in Indiana and Kansas. I'm used to fireworks starting around Memorial Day, and hadn't heard any in Kansas yet. Turns out, while Indiana has physical buildings for fireworks year round, Kansas has pop-up tents that only show up at the very beginning of the month until Independence Day. 

I'd had to kick this off with my first assignment on Monday morning! I found myself traveling to Chicago and back during the first few days of July. What really struck me was the differences in firework sales in Indiana and Kansas. I'm used to fireworks starting around Memorial Day, and hadn't heard any in Kansas yet. Turns out, while Indiana has physical buildings for fireworks year round, Kansas has pop-up tents that only show up at the very beginning of the month until Independence Day. 

If there's anything I've learned in photojournalism, it's to show up early and stay late. Before the fireworks started, I was looking for features and found this girl spinning what she called a fiber fly whip. I shot a few frames of different shutter speeds to get the effect I wanted. I waited until it wrapped around her body to make it more interesting. 

If there's anything I've learned in photojournalism, it's to show up early and stay late. Before the fireworks started, I was looking for features and found this girl spinning what she called a fiber fly whip. I shot a few frames of different shutter speeds to get the effect I wanted. I waited until it wrapped around her body to make it more interesting. 

As for the main event, I was somewhat frantically looking for an interesting photo when I realized that people were sitting on this huge hill. I didn't realize the display would be large enough to silhouette multiple people until I started shooting it. I got a lot of safe wide photos first, shooting this a good ten minutes into the display. 

As for the main event, I was somewhat frantically looking for an interesting photo when I realized that people were sitting on this huge hill. I didn't realize the display would be large enough to silhouette multiple people until I started shooting it. I got a lot of safe wide photos first, shooting this a good ten minutes into the display. 

On July 3rd, I photographed one of the smallest carnivals I've ever seen. The rides were line up strangely and set between buildings, making it difficult to get a wide photo. I ran with this safe but pretty photo of the Ferris Wheel instead. 

On July 3rd, I photographed one of the smallest carnivals I've ever seen. The rides were line up strangely and set between buildings, making it difficult to get a wide photo. I ran with this safe but pretty photo of the Ferris Wheel instead. 

That brings us to one of my last assignments of my first week. I've had a blast with the Manhattan Manko, a summer baseball league that has demolished at both games I've photographed. I get lots of slides at home and celebration from these guys. 

That brings us to one of my last assignments of my first week. I've had a blast with the Manhattan Manko, a summer baseball league that has demolished at both games I've photographed. I get lots of slides at home and celebration from these guys. 

Overcoming the Fear of Video

I used to be afraid of video. I was fighting a cocktail of anxiety, perfectionism, and fear of failure. It went much deeper than the fact that I didn't want to. I couldn't. Being sent on assignment to do video gave me anxiety attacks. 

I knew it wasn't rational. I knew getting started was necessary for my survival as a multimedia journalist. I became increasingly frustrated with myself and afraid of what would happen if I continued avoiding it.  

I've always watched videos and enjoyed them. I understood their purpose and was occasionally inspired them.  I just couldn't wrap my head around any part of the process. Editing was scary. What are all those boxes and those other boxes and those things and how does it all fit together? Shooting was somehow even more overwhelming. I couldn't bring myself to learn. 

I just really didn't really know where to start. My perfectionism was in the way. If I couldn't do THAT, today, why should I do it at all? I'd been building my skills in photojournalism for about four years by that point and saw how much I'd grown. It was about then that I realized that video would be the same process. My best advice is to start small. 

I set out on my one second a day project. My goal was to complete a month of one-second clips, leaving me with a 30-second video. This was about two months ago. I was encouraged to start recording video on a daily basis. This quickly became my norm, actually. I started to see movement and recognize what made interesting frames. The best part is that I was using my phone, which didn't carry the physical barrier my camera seemed to. Baby steps, people. Waddle if you gotta. 

I started to put my energy into studying the reasons to use video. I started to get attached to the idea of removing my voice somewhat from the story. I watched hundreds of mini-documentaries and learned about moments in a video, fell in love with people's voices, started to see what made a good story and started recognizing the general formula for videos. 

It wasn't until I sort of learned how to edit by sheer force of will from my current job that I really overcame the fear enough to produce my first video. Once I could use a video editor and stitch pieces together, I started being able to learn to edit video just by watching it. I can study how interviews are cut together, the kinds of shots to use, how much b-roll always seems to be needed which was something I couldn't consciously do before I knew the basics of editing. 

I wasn't able to edit until I had a lot of inspiration from watching videos, a lot of support from my job, and the mental health support to overcome anxiety and perfectionism. My first real video for my job was shot handheld on an iPhone with no exterior microphone. It was edited in WeVideo, which is free and online. 

Once I became comfortable with shooting and editing with very simple tools, I could start easing my way into using my camera with a shotgun microphone. I'm saying that it's completely okay to be afraid of video, and it's hard to overcome, but possible. 

 How to overcome the fear of video. 

1. Get inspired. Find videos that interest you. Contact me for inspiration links! Facebook works too.

2. Try to find the source of your fear and fight it! Mine was perfectionism and anxiety. It will look different for everyone. 

3. Ditch the tools. iPhone and go. Use a free online editor. You'll learn your frames per second and how to develop a workflow when you get over the initial hill! 

4. Shoot anything. Your dog, your friends, whatever. 

5. Watch tutorials and don't be afraid to ask for help!

6. Don't be afraid to take baby steps! I highly suggest a one-second everyday project. I can't explain all the ways it helps. I use 1SE on iPhone to stitch it together. It makes it very easy. 

7. Realize that these steps might take time, and any forward momentum is good. 
 

Winter and Growth

The Indiana cold seeped into my bones again, despite the unnaturally warm days. Winter makes me highly introspective. It's been an adventure that's lead to me to video, and to yoga, and efforts in multimedia, and taking care of myself on physical and emotional levels. 2017 is an adventure. 

This month, I sort of belly flopped into video, but of I've become a little more graceful in the last month. I was lucky to find a home in Ideas in Motion media where I'd be able to grow. 

I've produced a bunch of videos with them so far. It's been an adventure from interviewing the president of my local power company, to speaking with economic development professionals about the Northwest Indiana trains. I'm having a wonderful time and finally consistently stretching my video skills. I should have started sooner!

February high school basketball is female basketball! I shot so many games, captured so much joy and anguish in the final games, and just had a wonderful time. 

I'm onto the boys basketballs regionals. Most wonderful time of the year!  

Here are my February 2017 favorites!

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January 2017: Sports and Changes

I moved back to Indiana after a run in Michigan, and immediately started freelancing primarily for NWIndianalife, an online publication that brings helpful information and good news to people in my community. 

With a few basketball games and some swimming meets under my belt, they invited me to be the primary sports photographer. I have covered every basketball game, wrestling match, and nearly every swim meet for them since. Traveling to high schools all over this corner of the state has been an adventure.

Recently, I became the video producer for Ideas in Motion Media! I'll oversee video for NWIndianalife.com, valpolife.com, portagelife.com and laportecountylife.com.

Ideas in Motion is ready to do more and more with video. We'll be experimenting with new ideas and tech, and improving upon old processes. We'll work to make the entire coverage team a little more comfortable with video. We have a few projects in the works right now!

Here are some of my favorites this month.

2016 Photos of the Year

2016 was weird.

Within the first week, I moved somewhere that wasn't Indiana. It was my first year out of college, so it was destined to be weird, at least, from newfound time on my hands.

Michigan marches to its own wonderful rhythm of weird. I figured from moving there and starting work at a paper that I was in for somethin' this year. 

Being a photojournalist full-time is no doubt weird. You step into the worlds of strangers and do your best to accurately convey everything that they are. You get to see things no one else sees and chase light to the concern of your non-visual friends. It's an adventure. I was called weird maybe 9 times a week for asking overly specific questions.

"Hey, so, are Ronald McDonald shoes like, a one size fits all deal, or like, who makes them?" Ronald, nor his handler, really cared to answer. 

I'm the most emotional about politics that I've ever been, and the most emotional about celebrity deaths that I've ever been, so that's been weird.

I was able to get weird at my first Geekfest and celebrate the weird of Paducah, Kentucky with The Mountain Workshops. I was lucky enough to meet some lovely weirdos at the Michigan news photo contest, too!

I spent a few days photographing NASCAR and photographed my first outdoor concert. I photographed a hot air balloon festival and rode in a balloon for the first time.  I photographed probably hundreds of firsts, really. It was an adventure.  

2016 was incredibly rewarding. I learned so much during my time at Mlive. It made me a better shooter and in some ways, a better person. I’ve met incredible people in journalism and outside of it.

I'm incredibly thankful for this year, and for everything I experienced.

Here are my favorite photos of 2016. 

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