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Photographers and Audio Gathering Why its Important

For photographers who want to include audio with their images to create multimedia packages for reaching new audiences with their photographs check out these tips on interviewing subjects:

http://www.transom.org/tools/recording_interviewing/200101.basics.jallison.html

http://www.journalism.org/resources/tools/reporting/interviewing/print.asp

Also check out Brian Storm’s article on why photographers should gather audio

http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0506/storm.html

by [a former member] at 2005-06-18 01:53:39 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) New York , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

I would add here, for anyone who is interested in Brian Storm’s new project, Voices, and its mission to publish mixed media, the link to his website:

http://mediastorm.org/voices.html

this looks to be a very interesting endeavor. Storm’s comments on audio are also available on his site.

by Jon Anderson | 18 Jun 2005 09:06 (ed. Jun 18 2005) | Astoria Queens, United States | | Report spam→
Far from enhancing photography, I thnk this idea of audio just serves to diminsh the significance of the imagery or compensate for the small 4×6′s that now pass for photography all over the web…..what we need to do is to break up Corbis/Getty and to open the flow of images and ideas. What a good photo needs is silence…..I am all for silence of the truth. All the audio I want to here is the reality of Corbis, maybe we can have a story on that.

by [former member] | 18 Jun 2005 10:06 (ed. Jun 18 2005) | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
Actually Andy, I hope to be providing you with just such a story soon (more on this later), but in the meantime, while I love to study a photo in a leisurely manner and in silence, and for me there is nothing like a beautiful big print on silver halide paper, I happen to like mixed media and I am exploring this approach as one means of presenting the documentary work i am doing. I had a show back in the Fall, made possible by the New York Foundation of the Arts and the Dominican Studies Center, which for the first time enabled me to pull together all the elements that interest me about my little island in one very moving package: there was gaga’ music from the bateys (a wonderful mix of wind and percussion, improvised from homemade and found objects that is in fact the original instrumentation behind all forms of Caribbean carnival music), plus classic son, merengue and bachata, all thematically appropriate; there was text (a mix of literary stuff like poetry and fiction, popular lyrics and proverbs, and oral history); and there was of course the imagery. If the slideshow is timed properly, I dont think that the other material detracts from the impact that the photo itself is intended to make. This thing was an experiment on many levels: I was trying to see how an audience would react to the mix of materials, and I wanted to see if the themes I had decided to focus on, which are intended to provide a comprehensive portrait of a developing nation, indeed fell into place and provided a coherent gestalt. I was pleased to see that, despite some kinks and some gaping holes, I was certainly on the right track, and so I have been putting more effort since then into creating a mixed media package.

I dont see how photojournalists can be expected to mix sound in with their imagery, I just dont see how they can find the time when recording split second news events, though the links above may explain all that; but for documentary work it certainly is possible and intriguing. I am not particularly interested in video, dont like moving imagery as much as still, but slideshows and sound seem to me a useful hybrid.

by Jon Anderson | 18 Jun 2005 11:06 (ed. Jun 18 2005) | Astoria Queens, United States | | Report spam→
And btw, Sheryl, thanks for taking the time to make all this information here and on your other recent posts available to the members of LS. You were really burning the midnight oil!

by Jon Anderson | 18 Jun 2005 11:06 | Astoria Queens, United States | | Report spam→
Hey guys

Working with photography and sound is another way to explore options and to tell a story. I’m not advocating that every photographer goes out there with a mini disc and mic etc. but for some this is an option, that’s what it is an option. Subjects have a voice and sometimes a photographer wants that voice to come through in their words. BTW I’m also not pitching for Corbis or whoever out there as institutions but what Brian Storm wrote is advice, advice which is bonafide. In photography, there are advocates out there whether fellow photographers who help each other out in the field or a writer or a multimedia person – we draw from each others experiences. We don’t work in isolation, despite our thinking that we do in some ways. Also, the web is changing – think of the bloggers – although they have gotten criticism as not being bonafide journalists there are those out there that are doing journalism, they are credible. There is also a market out there for this type of work and more and more it will be another venue for your work. Again its an option. Whether one photographs in BW or color, that’s an option or the type of magazine or newspaper you pitch a story to. But its important to see that magazines and newspapers etc are putting money into developing their online media and the competition for strong packages is developing. The real question is how to not only enhance our work and to get it out there to audiences that may have access to the web but not to a magazine for example but how to have publications or other venues recognize photographers as authors and to pay them accordingly.

by [former member] | 18 Jun 2005 11:06 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Andy
I agree that the usage of photography on the web is far from ideal. But look at those efforts of Foto8 etc. and others online. Look, in magazines unless its a photo essay which with many publications is far and few between issues, you wind up as an illustration for someone else’s words/thoughts etc., your no longer an author in some ways. Here you regain authorship. The web is changing and the markets will follow suit, its like the dot coms you’ll have a flood of attempts but eventually some will surface that have real staying power. It’s about creating new markets for your work. The power of photography is uncontestable. But one way to enhance work and collaboration is to stake out options for ourselves with advocates who are working alongside. You talk about the need to “open the flow of images and ideas.” That’s exactly what this is. It’s another layer of that exchange. I am also for silence of the truth but sometimes silence is just that silence or someone else’s truth. If you decide to work with audio perhaps its your subjects truth that works hand in hand with the images. Think about when a photographer and writer don’t work together in the field and you shoot and someone else writes on the experience, on what you’ve witnessed. Is that truth, perhaps but it isn’t your experience so your work illustrates someone else’s truth. They may have it close but its not fully your truth or the subjects. Again, audio is an option and there are obstacles. It’s not for everyone and I respect your approach to your work. The main idea is to let people know it exists as an option and to share the basic fundamentals of how to approach it. Brian Storm’s advice is the same as radio journalists whether NPR or other outlets, its the same basic info. In working with audio though you develop new advocates for your work outside of the few outlets that are out there.

by [former member] | 18 Jun 2005 12:06 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
All very cogent Sheryl. I agree. And as a writer/photographer, I am already mixing it up, so I am curious to see how these endeavors pan out. Working with other authors has rarely been as satisfying as doing both myself. Also, I firmly believe in disseminating one’s work in a variety of media. I often work with NGOs, so they make use of the imagery in one fashion (which in some ways is quite important, since that particular usage is directly linked to helping the people whose misfortune is the subject of your photos: you know that the photos are actively working to create change); and then there are exhibitions, and that is another type of usage, though more rarefied; magazines, so you reach the traditional media audience, books, again a more rarefied usage, due to the high cost of production and consequent limitation of the audience to those who can afford the book; and then there is the web, which promises potentially the widest circulation of your work and thus the means of reaching out to an audience that might not otherwise see the work. And though like everything on the web, there is alot of crap, when handled well (you cited foto8, and there are many others as you know), it is really superb. And I dont see how any one usage necessarily impedes or detracts from the other, or that by showing it in one form you cant also show it in other forms that are qualitatively speaking superior. Like I say, for me there is nothing like a well made print, and I happen to love hearing the reactions you get from the viewers. But the work can take many forms.

by Jon Anderson | 18 Jun 2005 12:06 | Astoria Queens, United States | | Report spam→
Well I hope I stirred up the pot……you can see my piece on 9.11 streaming at http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0209/levin.htm and I think you will see that I have gone pretty far in this direction myself. Make sure you watch the end…….and I think you see the virtue of silence. Its not perfect by any means but it has its momemts.

Looking forward to seeing your work Jon……

by [former member] | 18 Jun 2005 15:06 (ed. Jun 22 2005) | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
Andy

This truly is what you said … to “open the flow of images and ideas” – this is what makes lightstalkers so amazing – we learn from each other. Thanks!

Cheers,
Sheryl

by [former member] | 18 Jun 2005 15:06 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Andy you sly dog you! That was really cool, and the ending is killer. I can remember seeing those posters go up and of all the things I saw on that fateful day, the posters were what really got to me. Silence indeed is golden.

vis a vis your essay, I can tell you one good reason for not going to ground zero on 9/11: the poisonous air! I rushed like a mad fool into that mess the moment I heard that a plane had crashed into the tower; but the scariest thing was when I met a Con Ed worker all dressed up in a space suit, and when I asked why he needed it, he just laughed at me and said, “you have any idea what is floating around in the air here?” This was the night of the second day, I think, which didnt seem half as bad to me at the time as that first day, yet despite all the claims by authorities that the air was OK, here was this guy in a space suit. Well, I learned that he was right to take precautions, because my lungs were permanently damaged by that poison. I still cant run a city block.

On a lighter note, I will surely let you know when I get this project together in a mixed media form, but I suspect it will take a while. I need to add to it, get more recorded material, and I am thinking of trying for an artist in residence gig at Lightwork in order to take advantage of their software and hardware. One thing I am not so happy about is that when I try to move around in the images, the image gets pixelated as it tries to resolve with each new framing. iMovie is particularly bad in this respect, but Final Cut is a bit better.

by Jon Anderson | 18 Jun 2005 15:06 | Astoria Queens, United States | | Report spam→
I have been thinking a lot about this issue and I am torn in many directions. I think that a photograph accompanied with sound, for example an interview or with music can carry a solid effect, but is it a ‘special’ effect only? I think of the use of still photography combined with music and the reading of letters in Ken Burns’ Civil War, not in the regard of a special effect, but as an illumination of the photographs. But then I get torn by the fact that by presenting music or an interview, as photographers do we begin to instruct the viewer with what we want them to see, set a mood that reflects our singular interpretation and leaves nothing for the audience to decide? At the same time, I don’t think that additional information corrupts the truth of a photograph, it adds another layer. Then I wonder if this is an attempt to keep up with video, a lure to get people back to the power of the still image? Can sound and interview be added, as in the case of interviews on a dvd, something that can be accessed at the will of the viewer, layered there too with photographer commentary, with interview, with music? I just don’t know what to think!

by Todd Simmons | 22 Jun 2005 11:06 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Jon:

Wow, I am really sorry to hear about your health issues. Were you part of the study group, what a farce that was, wasn’t it? What did you breath? I was there a lot, too much, in fact, but I guess I am OK, but I had to move down here.

I will never forget that particular stench, from the burning…..how such much evil could come out of a bluesky day is hard to imagine, and how it changed our lives.

It always struck me as strange that they immediately opened the area a block away as soon as 10 days after the tragedy? What an awful time we live in. Has our govenment ever been less aware of the needs of the people…….

Anyway, back to the audio……one issue, I think is that sound carries a heavier weight than images, because sound is much closer to the senses that we experience in real life. I don’t know anyone who sees in one dimension, as a camera, but the audio is pretty close to how we hear sound. And because music in particular extends in time, I found that I edited to it, rather than vice-versa.

These are just some of the issues. But I wish you luck, you have some great subject matter in the Dominican people and you know I miss those maricons (please don’t look up in Spanish) because I am down here in Louisiana, but thats the way it goes amigo,

by [former member] | 22 Jun 2005 12:06 (ed. Jun 22 2005) | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
Hi everyone, I’m new here. This is a really timely discussion – I’m about to pick up a used MD recorder and try my hand at gathering audio to accompany a story I’m starting. I went down to Boston for the VII seminar and got to see a stills & audio presentation by Ron Haviv documenting the beginning of the conflict in Iraq. His use of sound really drove home the points he seemed to be making with his pictures. Inspiring stuff.

While I tend to agree that silence has it’s virtues, I’m excited at the prospect of telling a story in a (slightly) new way. Todd, your question “by presenting music or an interview, as photographers do we begin to instruct the viewer with what we want them to see?” is an interesting one. I would suggest that if we are NOT already instructing the viewer in some way, we are camera pointers rather than photographers. But on the other hand, music etc… can be manipulative. The key, of course, is to exercise fairness and good judgement, the way you always should when you try and tell somebody’s story with a camera. New tools, same goals. Hmm.

BTW Andy, I watched Aftermath and I think it’s great.

by Liam Maloney | 22 Jun 2005 13:06 | Montreal, Canada | | Report spam→
Good point Liam, I agree with you. I dont buy into the idea that photography has to be objective or neutral in order to express truth, to be “transparent” if you will. Generally the best work is that which is passionately felt and has a pretty clear point of view (which does not mean a simple or unironic viewpoint, just a strong one: like “Vietnam, Inc.”). Art is inherently manipulative, there is no escaping it. However, readers/viewers are not passive either: they perceive what they are capable of perceiving, they judge according to their lights, they bring their own interpretations to the work, which in turn certainly imposes limits (after all some interpretations are just loony), but not tyrannically so — as Josef Koudelka once said, If a picture is good, it tells many different stories. When I was an academic, we used to call this “reception theory” — the study of how books are received or understood by readers and how the structure of the narrative (semiotics) seeks to dictate certain plausible meanings. But you learn pretty quickly that for all your manipulation, your audience finds plenty of ways to escape them.

Plus, I will say another thing in support of the multimedia thing, as least as I am trying to define it: My soundtrack and text, if I can get it right, will be full of the music, literature, voices, daily sounds of the people. They get plenty of space to “represent” though I admit I retain power insofar as I am the person who puts it all together. I have the final cut.

Andy, lamentably yes I am one of those in the study you mentioned, if I understand the reference correctly. There is a clinic up at Mount Sinai where initially they were just studying the symptoms of all the people who worked down there, and photographers were included in this bunch. That was the initial phase, but since then they have been pretty actively involved in trying to get help for people. They are also following up on the initial exams, and calling for further examinations (cat scans etc) when necessary. I signed up for this after I came down with severe pneumonia and afterward chronic shortness of breath. I remember I once had to run outside to stop a cop from ticketing my car, and I was floored by an asthma attack. Never had that happen to me before. I even used to run five miles a day (though i dont miss that, really!). But with Advair, I have improved tremendously, and I hope eventually the body will repair itself. Believe it or not, it was acupuncture that pulled me out of the pneumonia. As long as I can dance, I dont mind, but I think I may never be able to realize my dream of visiting Bolivia’s altiplano! High altitudes are probably not in my immediate future.

I think the reason I was hard hit after 9/11 was that I was there that first day, and during that night, from about 7 30 till 4 am I was pretty much on top of the pile or near it the whole time. When I left my eyes were burning red, my throat was scorched, and I was coughing. But I have met construction types who were working there on the pile, and some of them are in really bad shape. And you know, it ticks me off that the cops got so much attention and were constantly being celebrated as heroes, when in fact most of them didnt do shit. I talked to so many cops that day and the rest of that week, and most of them were absent from duty and just sightseeing (or unnecessarily harassing the press). that is the truth. The real heroes are the firemen, of course, and the construction workers who were cleaning up the pile. And many of them are now chronically ill.

by Jon Anderson | 22 Jun 2005 15:06 | Astoria Queens, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks Sheryl, for all the great info in your recent posts.

In February this year I was watching a PBS/John Denver concert and he has a song that he plays about Cousteau’s “Calypso”

To sail on a dream on a crystal clear ocean
To ride on the crest of a wild raging storm
To work in the service of life and the living
In search of the answers to questions unknown
To be part of the movement and part of the growing
Part of beginning to understand

Aye, calypso, the places youve been to
The things that youve shown us
The stories you tell
Aye, calypso, I sing to your spirit
The men who have served you
So long and so well

Like the dolphin who guides you
You bring us beside you
To light up the darkness and show us the way
For though we are strangers in your silent world
To live on the land we must learn from the sea
To be true as the tide
And free as the wind-swell
Joyful and loving in letting it be

Aye, calypso, the places youve been to
The things that youve shown us
The stories you tell
Aye, calypso, I sing to your spirit
The men who have served you
So long and so well

Aye, calypso, the places youve been to
The things that youve shown us
The stories you tell
Aye, calypso, I sing to your spirit
The men who have served you
So long and so well

Words and music by john denver

What struck me about the piece was his use of words and instruments. I was trying to think of a good combination to mix words/music and still’s as a presentation.

What struck me was how when I heard the song it immeadiately put me on a “Ship on the Ocean” from my memory and I recalled vividly images in my mind from my past in Massachusetts. Flute’s represented Seagulls, it really places you there in sight and sound. I am more a McCartney/Tull type but I like and appreciate all types of music.

I don’t know if this contributes to the topic but it has me on a track to try to expand on what I do. Check out the song and see what you think.

atb

Disclaimer: The fact that I live in Denver is merely coincidental. I have no association to the artist, production company or label. In addition, No hallucinogens were use at anytime before, during or after this observation.

However, This Artist will be greatly missed for a long time to come.

by Ken Murray | 23 Jun 2005 14:06 (ed. Jun 23 2005) | Broomfield, Colorado, United States | | Report spam→
There is the story you need to be doing Jon….you are looking at in the mirror, its the story of the forgotten and chronically ill, and how all the flags are now put away, and they are fighting about what to do with that hole, as 9.11 is used as an excuse to repeat the violence of the car bombs in Iraq, which look eerily like the cars on Cortlandt Street after the attack.

by [former member] | 23 Jun 2005 14:06 | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
Tull type? :)

by [former member] | 23 Jun 2005 14:06 | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
Actually you are right Andy. I am so focused on my own stuff, I hadnt thought of it. But I am out of here soon. Course that doesnt mean I couldnt do something in the near future. I could use the clinic as a means of contacting people. Food for thought.

Only thing that might be a problem is that the images could be used to foment more warmongering. I would have to ensure that the viewpoint is quite clear.

You hooked me.

by Jon Anderson | 23 Jun 2005 14:06 | Astoria Queens, United States | | Report spam→
You can do that……best way would get to go to Iraq, do firemen there, holding hoses on the bombed out cars, then cut back and forth between WTC, Baghdad……the idea is that its the little people who suffer for the big peoples wars, pretty much the same theme as in mine, ie it was the office workers, and the cleaning people, and the salesman from Canada who lost their lives— thats final, thats irrevocable, that isn’t going to change, and that we are turning our backs on them just as we are supposedly “protecting” their families from future “terrorists,” in a hysteria rubber-stamped by our sycophantic media.

You want to know when this war ends? I says it ends as soon a Rupert Murdoch decides it does, because when FOX NEWS starts to reel in the brainwashed, and changes its tune, then its all over. How long that will be I don’t know, but we should take bets.

Anyway, I will rough edit the piece on FCP or AVID (cough, cough, you know I stopped coughing after I left NY) don’t worry I work cheap. Shalom.

by [former member] | 23 Jun 2005 14:06 (ed. Jun 23 2005) | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→

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Participants

Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
Photographer & Writer
Ocala Florida , United States
Todd Simmons, photographer Todd Simmons
photographer
New York , United States
Liam Maloney, Photojournalist Liam Maloney
Photojournalist
Beirut , Lebanon
Ken Murray, Freelance Photographer Ken Murray
Freelance Photographer
Broomfield, Colorado , United States ( DAA )


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