Final exam on Monday, 4/30 at 5:30 p.m.

It’s not too soon to start thinking about the final exam.

First, sometimes there is some confusion about the time. Sometimes students look on the exam schedule and mistake Monday class exams for classes that meet once per week in the evenings. Our final exam is at the regular class time. Here is a link to the exam schedule. Scroll to the bottom for the correct time:

SPRING 2018 Final Exam Schedule

If you find there is a conflict with another class’ final exam, please let me know right away.

The exam will cover material from the second half of the semester.  Like our midterm, it is an open note exam. To help you narrow down your focus, here is a link to a study sheet for you:

2018 MMJ3333 Final exam study sheet

NOTE: We covered the lesson on Portraits on the class before Spring Break, but it was not included on the midterm. Also note that, in the class presentation, I included a little bit of material form the first half of the semester. I had forgotten about our lesson about light, so your study sheet drops that material from the first half and includes the lesson on light. Go by the study sheet for the material you need for the final exam.


I would suggest you start reading over the handouts NOW to re-familiarize yourself with the material so you aren’t desperately looking for answers during the exam period. These are the links to the handouts you will need for the exam:


Let There Be Light

Interesting photographs: Forget good. Make your photos interesting!

Feature Photography

Covering the News

Remember, as you scan your handouts, look for type in boldface or italics. It is a clue that these are concepts I want you to remember and are likely to be included on the final exam.

Read the study sheet and plan to have it by your side as you take the exam, along with the handouts. I give you some answers, straight up, on the study sheet. Sometimes, I ask questions. If you can answer those questions ahead of time, this exam should be a breeze for you.

Contact me if you have any questions.


Portfolios due 4/23

Class on April 23 will be dedicated to submitting your portfolio. Your final shooing assignment, Events/Visual Narratives, is due on the website by 5:30, before class, as usual.

Your Portfolios will be due by the end of the class period at 8:15 so you can get feedback from me and your classmates before your final submission on the website.

Portfolio requirements

  • Submit your ten (10) best single photographs that best represent what you’ve learned this semester.
  • Submit your photos in a SINGLE post. Post them inline by choosing the “individual image” option, NOT various galleries (tiled mosaic, thumbnail grid, slideshow, etc!!!)
  • Each photo must be accompanied by a full AP Style caption!
  • Don’t forget to put your full name in the title of the post.
  • Select images from assignments 3-7 (no mugshots or depth-of-field pics, please). You may also include any photos from assignments you’ve chosen to reshoot, or photos that you’ve shot for extra credit that demonstrate your understanding of the class material

Portfolio grading criteria

Your portfolio grade will count towards 20% of your final grade.

The following will be considered for each individual image:

  • Technical competence: Focus, image sharpness, correct exposure, correct color balance. This is basic. Is your picture even publishable by minimum professional standards?
  • Graphic appeal: Light, composition, perspective. Did you carefully craft your photograph? Did you build a visual “stage” to help tell your story, or did you just “snap” a picture?
  • Emotional appeal: Storytelling moments, expressions, gestures, body language, mood, atmosphere. This is where we set the bar! Did you try to help us connect with your subjects and tell their stories, or did you just shoot simple “doing” pictures?
  • Intimacy: Did you gain access that the typical person doesn’t have? Did you generate trust with your subject, maybe go behind the scenes? Or did you just shoot what everybody else could shoot with their phones? Effort to go beyond the obvious and expected will be noted.
  • AP Style captions!!! This is a necessary professional standard. Re-read the handout and make sure you have all the necessary information. Without captions, it’s just photography, not photojournalism.

Beyond the above criteria, I will also consider how well you demonstrate your understanding of the class material, as well as improvement, progress and effort.

Editing your portfolio.

Don’t wait until April 23! I suggest you start assembling your work from the semester in one place, such as a folder labeled “portfolio” on the jump drive or external hard drive you’ve used for this class. Do this NOW!

Each assignment required multiple photographs for credit, so you should have plenty of material. You won’t have to include every photo you’ve shot: ten individual shots – no more, no less.

Only submit those photos that represent your very best work. Your portfolio will only be as strong as your weakest photo, so be selective. Don’t simply re-submit pictures from your previous assignments if they were lacking. Crop them if they needed to be cropped. Make sure they are correctly toned. And re-write your caption in AP Style if your initial caption was insufficient.

Use some of the tools (handouts) that I’ve given you this semester to help you with the selection process and to help prepare your images for final submission:

Use the class period to get some feedback about which pictures to include. I am happy to fulfill that role – let me be your editor!

However, I encourage you to get feedback from your fellow students, as well. In fact, do that first before you call me over.

Put a little effort into your portfolio presentation. This is your last chance to make an impression.

Follow up from class (4/16): What’s due, final thoughts

Here is a link to the PDF version (with presenter’s notes, as usual) of Monday’s presentation.

In case you missed class, we went over expectations for the rest of the semester (last shooting assignment, portfolio, final exam) and I presented some final thoughts about what, hopefully, we’ve learned.

Presentation: Final thoughts

More posts about your portfolio and the final exam coming soon.

Suggestions for events to cover for assignment 7 …

The following are some suggestions for upcoming events you can cover for your assignment. I included links to websites and press releases so you can get some ideas about how to cover them. I also linked to Google Maps for locations if you’re not sure where some of these places are. Some of the events are recurring, so you might have a chance to cover them next week if you miss out this week. Make sure you check the dates and times.

If you have any other ideas, please share them and check with me before you cover something not on this list. I want to make sure you cover something that has plenty of potential for visual storytelling. Try to avoid things like lectures, panel discussions, or conferences, unless you can convince me there is a significant visual element to them.

Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market

When: Saturday, April 14 and 21, 9 a.m. – Noon.

Where: Downtown Statesboro, Charlie Olliff Square at the Sea Island Bank parking lot

What: Local farmers and artists provide their products and wares to local residents. Product/service booths, entertainment, activities, etc.

Advice: Get there early to find parking. And don’t be late. Participants start packing up and leaving at Noon. There should be plenty of opportunity to produce a 4-picture package to represent this event. Again, avoid the trite types of photographs produced by cute kids pictures. Family is a big theme here, but see if you can explore the types of family themes produced by vendors. Farms and artistic pursuits can be family endeavors, too! How do they relate to the public?


Children’s Vegetable Garden

When: Tuesday, April 10 and 17, from 4-5 p.m.

Where: The Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern University

What: Garden staff lead the way as K–5th graders learn about planting, growing, and tasting vegetables, in addition to learning about the ecosystem of the garden.

Advice: There is tons of interaction and opportunities for visual storytelling in a very photogenic location. Yes, there will be cute kid shots, but parents, staff, and students all get involved.


Hoops with Heroes

When: Thursday, April 12 from 3:45-6:45 p.m.

Where: William James Middle School gym,  (US-80, Statesboro, GA 30458)

What: Local law enforcement agencies build positive relationships with area youth by playing basketball and hosting other relationship-building activities.

Advice: There will be lots of people playing basketball, but this is not primarily a sports story. It is a community relations effort. Basketball is just the pretext for the effort. There should be lots of opportunities to photograph how those relationships are built over the course of the event.




When: Saturday, April 14 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: Sweetheart Circle

What: A complete celebration of the arts with performances, vendors, and tons of activities for people of every age.

Advice: Again, there will be lots of kids’ activities, but avoid the cute kids doing stuff photos. There are tons of things to shoot.


Annual Blue/White Spring Football Game

When: Saturday, April 14. The game starts at 1 p.m., but there are lots of activities surrounding the game: Youth punt, pass, and kick contest at 9:30 a.m.  There is an autograph session following the game.

Where: Allen E. Paulson Stadium

What: Spring football with plenty of related activities. Southern Pride marching band. Cheerleaders. GUS. Tailgating. Kids activities.

Advice: Cover the culture surrounding the game, not the game itself. Don’t bother including a bad sports action shot from the stands in your packages. There are too many other stories to tell at this event.


2018 Mr. Georgia Southern University Scholarship Pageant

When: Thursday, April 19 at 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Where: Russell Union Ballroom

What: Contestants will compete in the following categories: On- Stage Question, Formal Wear, Spirit Wear, Talent, and Swimsuit. It’s a beauty pageant – with guys!

Advice: This could be really interesting, but don’t bother doing this unless you can get some backstage access. You’ll probably need to contact the organizers. Photos of behind-the-scenes action will give us a unique perspective.


Archery Date Night

When: Friday, April 20 at 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Where: Georgia Southern Shooting Sports Education Center

What: A beginning archery program – with a twist!

Advice: Could be a really fun event to cover. You can help teach others something about archery, and you can try to capture some aspects of the relationships between couples. Might be worth a shot!


Spring into Statesboro/Great American Clean-up

When: Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: Downtown Statesboro/East Main Street

What: It’s a Spring festival featuring crafts, games, kids activities, food vendors, live entertainment, etc. Public space cleanup, beautification and recycling is another theme. Teams of volunteers will scour Statesboro and clean up the streets at 9 a.m.

Advice: Be there early if you want to capture photos of the clean-up. It’s a big family event. Focus on family interaction, not pictures of cute kids doing stuff.



Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo 

When: Friday, April 20 & Saturday, April 21 – Gates open at 5 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.

Where: Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds

What: Cowboys and cowgirls bring their bronc-busting, bull riding, and barrel racing prowess to the Boro. Vendors offer all sorts of Western food and merchandise.

Advice: First, if you are interested in photographing the rodeo, let me know and I will try to pull some strings to get you in. The action in the ring is obvious – but a word of warning – the lights are very poor once the sun goes down. Get there early and shoot lots of the culture surrounding the rodeo. Get behind the scenes and capture some of the preparation and camaraderie between the rodeo athletes and staff.


The Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern Children’s Festival

When: Sunday, April 22, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Where:  The Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern University

What: The Botanic Garden will be hosting a Children’s Festival, featuring learning stations, music, entertainment, etc.

Advice: This is definitely a last-minute event, as your assignment is due the next day. Still, this is a nice event to cover. This is a family event, so look for family interaction, not just pictures of cute kids doing stuff. Show us what they are actually learning about – ecology, botany, etc. Should be some entertainment there, as well.


Additionally, the Leadership & Community Engagement program at Georgia Southern offers a lot of daily volunteer trips for students. Many could make a really nice picture package.

Serve912 Trip Schedule:
Mondays: 3pm-5:15pm – Statesboro Library
Tuesdays: 2pm-4pm – Westwood Nursing Home, 3:30pm-5:30pm – After School Program & After School Garden Program @ Mill Creek
Wednesdays: 9am-11am – CSM Thrift Store & Food Pantry, 11:15am-1:15pm – Statesboro Food Bank, & After School Garden Program @ Sallie Z.
Thursdays: 3:30pm-5:30pm – After School Program & After School Garden Program @ Julia P. Bryant Elementary School
Fridays: 10:15am-12:30pm – Food Bank, 1pm-4pm – Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 2pm – 4pm – Heritage Inn
Saturdays: 8:45am-12pm – Habitat for Humanity Construction, 10:45am-1pm – Soup Kitchen

You’ll probably need to contact someone to make arrangements for coverage. Start with or stop by Russell Union 1056 for more info. Or maybe you can try one of the Community Liaisons.

Assignment 7: News Events/Visual Narratives

One way a professional visual journalist distinguishes his or her work – from the noise created by billions of images on social media – is by creating visual narratives. Learning how to create and use multiple images to capture the spirit and relevance of a news event is how we start. Start practicing the concepts of visual variety. And learn how reading the visual and social cues around you can lead you to the pictures you need to tell the story.

DUE on the website: Monday, April 23, by 5:30 p.m.

The Assignment requirements:

Create a four-picture package that captures the spirit of a news event.

Try to develop a visual narrative. Review the discussion about the 3+1 formula in the presentation from class and the accompanying handout. Also, consider reviewing the presentation about what makes a good story and incorporate that into your images.

Start practicing visual variety. Again, review the presentation and the handout. Make an effort to explore the different perspectives for each scenario you consider photographing within the event you cover:

  • Long shots (overalls)
  • Medium shots
  • Closeups
  • Detail shots

You might consider including a photo from each of these perspectives in your final presentation, but it’s not required. (You might have a couple of great, storytelling medium shots, for example, that best advance your narrative.) However, try to shoot from all these perspectives so you have choices in how to advance your narrative in your final selections.

Each photograph requires a full AP Style caption. Consider the following:

  • Each caption MUST contain Who, What, When, and Where …
  • The “why” can be spread out over your four captions.
  • Don’t be too redundant. Captions should compliment one another, not repeat ALL the information.
  • Include the nature of the event. Newsworthiness! Why it is taking place? Approx. how many people?
  • If it is a fundraiser, how much money was raised?
  • Quotes are good to include in multi-pic packages!

Grades will be based on how the pictures communicate as a whole, not on individual pictures. Make each photo count. You’re package is only as strong as the weakest photo!

Assignment Grading Criteria

  • 25%: Captions (Full AP Style for each image)
  • 25%: Technical (exposure, focus, color balance)
  • 13%: Graphic appeal (Composition, Light, etc.)
  • 12%: Visual Variety
  • 25%: Content (moments, storytelling, uniqueness, effort to go beyond the obvious, narrative)

NOTE: If weather becomes an issue, keep this in mind: weather is NOT an excuse for missing an event. If the event is staged regardless of the weather, you should still cover it. Weather can be part of the story.

Your four selections are due on the class website no later than 5:30 p.m., Monday, April 23.


TIPS for shooting events from our lesson on Covering News: 

Understand the story – What’s newsworthy about his event, what’s going on, and why should it matter to my audience? What interpersonal dynamics do you observe? Who are the characters and what are their roles? What is the mood and the energy of the environment? Can you pick up on the visual and social cues presenting themselves to you? If you can answer these questions, you can begin to put yourself in a position to capture key moments before they happen. Observe and anticipate!

Set the scene – Shooting an overall shot can give our audience a sense of scale for the event and how story elements relate to one another. Don’t settle for a boring wide angle shot with no focal point, though. You still have to capture your audience’s attention. Find an unusual or interesting angle. Use creative composition. Use light to add interest or drama. Incorporate moments into your composition, if you can.

Shoot symbolic pictures – Details can help tell the story. Composition is extremely important with detail shots. Don’t make mindless “product” shots. Utilize depth-of-field (or selective focus) and use light effectively.

Watch for the human side – Don’t simply shoot pictures of people “doing stuff.” Emotional appeal is where we set the bar as photojournalists. Capturing emotion and interaction is key. If the event is fun for participants, your pictures should reflect that. If the energy is tense, you pictures should reflect that. Again, photographs can be symbolic. Capture the essence of the event with storytelling moments.

Highlight the sidelights – Look away from the obvious action. Whenever there is an audience or bystanders at an event, their reactions can often tell an important part of the story.

Get behind the scenes – There’s usually a lot that goes into an event that most people don’t see. Try to share some of that with your audience. That might mean having to sell yourself to gain that kind of access. It never hurts to ask.

Steer clear of the pack – Don’t settle for the shots everyone else is getting. Dare to be different!

Come early, stay late – This is a good way to get behind-the-scenes pictures. Sometimes you can capture moments that are more revealing and instructive when the spotlights are turned off and the TV cameras aren’t rolling. Trust me – I understand the time limitations of college students! If you can’t afford to be there early and late, then choose ONE! Be there early, or stay late. You will reap the benefits.

Get the facts – IDs are a must, but don’t stop there! Don’t forget to gather enough information to help people better understand the context in which your photographs were made. Don’t simply describe the action that’s already obvious in the photo.

Practice visual variety – Explore your subjects! Don’t shoot everything from the same perspective and angle. Explore each scenario you photograph. This will be a major part of your grade!


Class follow-up (4/9) – Covering the news

I tried to squeeze in just a little too much during class, so make sure you review the presentation, especially the part at the end covering your shooting assignment. Here’s the link:

Presentation: Covering the news

Here is the accompanying handout. You’ll need this to study for your final exam. There is some additional material, so you might want to read over it before tackling your shooting assignment, as well:

Covering the News

Let me know if you have any questions. Your shooting assignment will follow soon …

Assignment 6 – Feature photos

The skills we want to develop for this assignment are learning how to find and photograph enterprise feature photos. Tell a story with a photo and a well-written caption! Can you find the unusual or unique in your community? Can you tell everyday stories with a visual twist? Can you incorporate TLC into your storytelling photographs?

DUE: Monday, April 9 at 5:30 p.m.!

The Assignment 

Generate an “enterprise” feature photograph. In fact, generate TWO.


TWO feature photos are required for credit. 

  1. On Campus. It can be student life. Faculty or staff can be the subject. Maybe an event on campus. It’s up to you.
  2. Off Campus. You need to get outside your comfort level and explore life away from school. Maybe your mechanic is feature-worthy. Or your favorite barista. Go where people gather. Read the newspaper or a website to find out what’s going on around town. Gotta work? Take your camera. Have to go home for the weekend? Take your camera.

Full AP Style captions are required with each picture. This is crucial for telling a story with a stand-alone, enterprise feature photo!


Be creative! Use Timing, Light, and Composition (TLC)

  1. Can you show us something unique about our community with storytelling moments? Can you convey a timeless or universal message with a photograph?
  2. Can you use light to draw attention to your image with dramatic shadows or contrast? Can you use the characteristics of light to help tell your story?
  3. Can you go beyond basic composition (1. Create a focal point, 2) control your background, 3) Fill the frame) and create a memorable image or present a unique perspective or point-of-view with creative composition?

Show us a “slice of life.” Make us laugh. Make us cry. Amaze us. Enlighten us. Entertain us. Confront us with something we should care about.

People should be the focus of your pictures. No pics of animals or scenics without people in them! Not for this assignment, at least.

Take your camera with you everywhere you go! You should be doing this anyway. It’s a must for photojournalists. You never know when life will present an unforgettable moment to you – news or feature. Be prepared, and you might be rewarded.

Avoid trite and cliché photographs. Dig a little deeper. Think about universal emotional appeal and timeless themes instead of going for “gratuitous cuteness.” STAND IN FRONT OF MORE INTERESTING STUFF! If you’re not interested, your audience won’t be, either.

PLEASE NOTE: Features are ALWAYS candid. No posing. No coaching. No staging. You may interact with your subjects to get their information or to get permission to photograph them. However, you should strive to have as little influence on your subject as possible. Feature pictures should be honest and REAL.

Your two feature photos are due on the website no later than Monday, April 9, at 5:30 p.m.


The following will be evaluated when grading this assignment:

25%: Captions – AP Style!!! Re-read the post/handout if you must. Don’t leave out the necessary information. Context is extremely important with feature photographs. Can you make your photograph resonate with your audience? Why should they consider your photograph to be newsworthy or a lesson in humanity? Is there any relevant background information or a quote you can include? Don’t forget IDs, and what info is necessary for the “WHO” part of your caption. There is no excuse for not, at the very least, getting proper IDs for the people in your photographs.

25%: Technical quality – exposure and sharpness count. Picture that are blurry and/or too light or dark are not publishable.

25%: Graphic appeal – You must demonstrate control of what’s going on inside the images you present. Remember: 1) Create a focal point, 2) Control your background, 3) Fill the frame! Don’t make me search for what’s most important. In addition:

  • Use of light – Can you use light help to set an appropriate atmosphere or tone for your photo? Can you add graphic appeal by using shadows and contrast?
  • Creative composition – can you go beyond the basics and and create a memorable image or present a unique perspective or point-of-view? Can you incorporate interesting compositional techniques? (Dominant foreground/contributing background, repeating patterns, etc.)

25%: Content – 

  • Moments – Again, expressions, gestures, body language, actions all help tell the story. Without moments, your pictures are just snapshots. Remember, light and composition can help create a moment, too.
  • Originality – Beyond moments, the originality of your content will be a factor. Can you show us something most don’t get to see? Or can you present something common in a unique or moving way?



Read the handout on Feature Photography! The presentation was to help you get started and to see examples. Make sure you read the handout for additional information and inspiration.

Sometimes it’s hard to define just what a feature photo is. Try starting here:

“Single photographs, candid and unposed, that reflect the human experience, celebrate life, or chronicle a cultural trend.” 

Like I said, it’s a starting point. It’s okay to use your imagination, though. Think about what you are trying to say with your photos WHILE you are shooting. Not afterwards. Are you documenting something or someone you think others might find interesting? Are you trying to symbolize something that has universal appeal? You need to think about these things while you are shooting. Don’t shoot dull photographs and then try to make them interesting with your caption.

Review the handout about Interesting Photographs! This can give you some ideas about how to find something or someone interesting to photograph. You should be carrying your camera with you everywhere you go, but simply cruising may or may not produce an interesting picture. Find out what’s going on in your community. Don’t simply shoot two scenarios and call it quits, either. Try shooting anything and everything. Practice makes perfect. Then pick the best two pics that meet the criteria for the assignment.

Remember these attributes, especially, of a good feature photographer:

  • Be curious
  • Be prepared
  • Be patient

Have fun! This is a chance to visually explore the world around you. Experiment. Take chances. Be original! Forget “good.” Make your photos interesting!