Random Thoughts

Photojournalist for four hours

Written by Gail Bjork

Photographing the taping of a music video in Athens, Georgia gave me a deep appreciation for the challenges photojournalists face every day on the job.

I was invited by my daughter to attend the taping of a video portion of a music video that her son was asked to participate in. I brought along my camera gear intending to take a few snapshots between leisurely watching the activities and listening to the band.

I had no idea what an interesting afternoon I was about to experience as a “photojournalist.”

Watch the background

Watch the background for shoes and observers!

The video was filmed by Jason Miller of Athens Soundies. None of the actors who participated were professionals. In fact, most people just showed up after being electronically notified of the shoot through places such as Facebook.

The theme of the video was based a song called “Missionaries” written by the Gift Horse band from Athens, Georgia.

Jason saw me taking photos and asked that I send him some of the shots. There were other folks walking around with their cameras taking photos too, including an official photographer for the shoot. However, once asked, I was inspired to take a lot more photos than originally intended.

Photojournalist for four hours

Playing photojournalist for a couple of hours wasn’t as easy as I thought.

I wasn’t wearing appropriate shoes so at times it was challenging to walk up and down the hilly terrain. I nearly slipped into the water once and often found myself trying to keep from falling or dropping my camera while taking shots. After a couple hours of snapping away, when I had a moment to even think about it, I felt kind of exhausted from the hot weather.

The main challenge

The book

Ooops, who forgot the important prop for the preacher?! Another book was substituted. Better watch which way it's facing before shooting.

My main challenge was to stay out of the way of the videographer, and to capture photos without him, his assistant and onlookers in the scene. It was certainly more difficult than expected. Not only did I have to keep my eye on the subject but constantly scanned the viewfinder for anything distracting in the background.

Oh, and while costumes were provided for the non-professional actors, someone had forgotten an important prop for the preacher: a Bible. A participant remembered that The Joy of Cooking cookbook was in their car so… Try getting a shot of that book without the title showing while it’s being moved about in often fast-moving hands.

I’m going to be very interested to see how Jason handles the “Bible” in the video.

An exhilarating experience

Despite the challenges and never having photographed anything like it before, I was pleased with some of the resulting photos. I gained a number of insights as to what professional photojournalists and videographers face every day in their jobs. They have my utmost respect.

I personally experienced a deep sense of satisfaction from this very exhilarating and challenging type of photography. If I could go back and choose a new career path, I’d most likely study to be a photojournalist.

If photojournalism is something you’re considering, follow the link to a brief post listed below. It is certainly worth reading as a starting point and provides suggestions and insights about what it takes to get into the field: Anyone a photojournalist? What do you do? What’s the job market like right now?

Oh, and let me make an important suggestion that the author failed to mention: wear proper shoes!


Visit the Athens Soundies Gift Horse Video Shoot Gallery for more sample photos.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.