The idea of photojournalists on assignment sending photos home now feels quaint. Instead we pitch story ideas, shoot stills and video, edit what we gather, and think about ways that our images can be used to tell stories across different platforms to reach different audiences. Success comes to those who actively engage with others in their newsrooms and embrace emerging technology in ways that enhance their storytelling abilities. (Story continues below.)
No surefire formula for doing this yet exists, and this means possibilities are limitless. Even for those of us employed by news organizations, embracing the entrepreneurial spirit is vital.
“Killer Blue: Baptized by Fire
,” a multimedia project I worked on at The Associated Press
(AP), blends video, audio and still photography in the service of telling in depth a poignant and powerful story. Those who come to this story hear the voices of soldiers from Blue Platoon who were among the last to serve a 15-month combat mission in Iraq when they returned home in 2009. Meshing photographs and video with these soldiers’ recollections and the raw expression of their feelings enabled us to dig deeply inside of this platoon’s life in Iraq and at home.
I worked for about a year with a team at The AP to produce this package. Our efforts began with photo shoots and then we gathered video, audio and more photographs. We produced a 22-minute documentary, created a gallery of still images, and told the story in words. After we published it, a number of newspapers picked up our print/photo package and brought it to their audiences in print and online. News organizations such as MSNBC featured the documentary on their Web sites.
Publication of this project—online and in print—marked the first time at The AP that a small group of photographers had planned, shot and produced a piece of “visual impact” journalism created for multiple platforms. This happened because people there saw the possibilities existing at the intersection of digital technology and visual storytelling and set out to give photojournalists (and others) the necessary training. But aside from technical training, The AP recognized the importance of reengaging its photographers in the newsroom’s flow. Newsroom leaders encouraged editorial staff, no matter what medium they most often worked in, to conceptualize stories with photographic, video and audio possibilities in mind.
Training in how to move what photojournalists do across all of the news organization’s platforms is critical. Now that we’ve been given this gift of technical know-how, it’s up to us to prove that the finest era of photojournalism lies ahead, awaiting our ingenuity and skill.
Evan Vucci is a photographer with The Associated Press.