“Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt” Response

This was a very cool project. I thought that the creators did a good job explaining the process at each stage of production in a way that was understanding. I also really liked how they humanized the people who were involved in the process. I’ve never put much thought into my clothing or where it comes from, and I learned a lot from this project.

I wasn’t sure how to feel after seeing the living conditions of the female workers in Bangladesh and after hearing that the featured woman lived off of $80 per month, most of which was sent back to her family. I initially felt guilty for my desire to consume and buy more and more clothing even though I have more than enough, but then I also considered what life would be like there if the factories didn’t exist. It’s a ethical gray area for me.

This also made me think about the price of clothing. People always want things to be cheaper, but when we pay less for something someone else has to pay the difference. This comes through poorer wages and worse working conditions for the people making our clothes. Is saving a few dollars worth another person working back-breaking hours for little compensation for our behalf? I actually didn’t realize that there is a person sitting a sewing machine stitching every garment, I have always assumed that machines do everything. It’s odd to think about how a person held the clothes I’m wearing. We (at least I) have become so disconnected from the products we buy. Things are made in surplus quantities and they just magically show up on store shelves for us to buy.

Something I noted was the cultural differences in clothing. The women in Bangladesh had such beautiful clothing, the colors were so vibrant and the designs were so elaborate. It was such a contrast to the American clothes they were making. I also thought it was interesting that raw material for the shirts originated in the United States, and eventually returned to the United States as a value-added product, but everything in between happened elsewhere. That must be due to cheaper labor elsewhere in the world.

The videos and supplemental text painted a really interesting picture of something that I might not have taken interest in. The human aspect of the project got me thinking about all the people involved in the garment making process, and about my behaviors as a consumer.



Evan Culbert Qualifies for Triathlon Worlds

 Evan Culbert Qualifies for Triathlon Worlds 
      This photo story documents Evan Culbert’s race at the 2017 New Orleans Draft-Legal World Qualifier. Evan Culbert, a decorated triathlete on the Mizzou Triathlon Club Race Team, traveled to New Orleans with the team for a chance to qualify for Draft-Legal Triathlon Worlds which will take place in the Netherlands in summer 2017. Most amateur races do not allow drafting so this is was one of Evan’s few opportunities to show off his bike handling skills.
       The morning of the race had a rocky start. Due to dangerous water conditions caused by wind, the swim portion of the triathlon was canceled and replaced with a run, turning the race into a duathlon consisting of a 5k run, 20k bike, and a 2.5k run. Swimming is Culbert’s strongest discipline, so this change put him at a disadvantage relative to some of the other athletes.
        Despite the change in race course, Culbert had a strong race. He finished the first run in 11th place, did well on the bike and was able to get into a solid group of cyclists finishing the bike in 12th place. They all worked together drafting off one another to have a fast bike split. He then ran his way to 8th place overall in the 2.5k concluding run. His top ten finish qualified him for the World Championship.
Transition Area
The sun rises over the transition area of the New Orleans Draft-Legal Triathlon World Qualifier. Due to dangerous water conditions the triathlon was changed to a duathlon.
Water Stop
Evan Culbert, member of the Mizzou Triathlon Club Race Team, takes a sip of water before the start of his race.
A fading body marking tattoo.
Evan Culbert Cycling
Evan Culbert works with other athletes on the draft-legal bike portion of the duathlon, attempting to catch the lead pack ahead of them.
Evan Culbert sprints into the finishing chute, concluding his race and placing 8th overall, qualifying him for triathlon worlds.
Teammates Evan Culbert and Colin Gibson discuss their races after finishing.
Self Critique 
      Over the course of the race which took place over two days, with the triathlon (turned duathlon) on Saturday and the duathlon on Sunday, I took over 1,400 pictures. From those I narrowed it down to about 150 that I liked. I had a hard time choosing just 5-7 pictures, I love how the album is with all 150, but obviously that is too many pictures.
       I thought I did well capturing action shots given the situation. Especially when the athletes are biking, they could be moving at over 30mph and when they’re riding in groups it can be hard to see when your athlete is coming by. I got as close to the race course as I could and took as many pictures as I could while they were coming by and hoped for the best.
         There is much room for improvement with this project. If I could go back again, and if I had more experience/practice with the camera settings, I would try to change the shutter speed to see if I could show the motion of the bicycles. I also would’ve liked to have been at the race venue when it was announced that it would be a duathlon rather than a triathlon. It would’ve been cool if I could have captured Evan’s reaction to that, but I wasn’t at the race location at that time.
        I’m happy with my lede photo, but I’m not sure if my closer really does the trick. It’s a photo from after the race is complete and Evan is talking about the race with a teammate so in that sense it’s a closer, but if I could go back I would maybe try to get a picture that incorporated the finisher medals as my closer.
       To “finish” this project, I would interview Evan and collect audio. I could ask him to recount what was happening in each picture, how his body was feeling, where is head was at emotionally, what his strategy was, etc. I think that the audio of him explaining his experience along with the photos would create a nice finished project.

CPOY Judging

I was out of town this weekend so I went on the College Photographer of the Year website and watched some of the judging screencasts. The judging session I will be discussing is the finals of the general news category.

Judging these photographs would be very hard. They were all incredible. There were many categories of photos, yet even within each category (specifically general news) the images were so different. Each had its own twist. This adds to the difficulty of judging, and that was one of the things the judges talked about. They all fairly quickly agreed on the first place photo, and mostly agreed on the second place photo, but they were really torn between two photos for bronze. Each were quite different, and one the judges asked the others, “well do you want an apple or an orange.”

Some things they talked about in the photos were complexity, levels, and camera awareness. Camera awareness isn’t something I had ever thought of before. One of the images was of a bunch of people in a theater of some sort. Some of the judges seemed to like the image of funeral because it seemed more “natural” but because people in the theater were looking at different things and in different places some said it was a more complex image and thus should receive bronze.

My favorite image of the category was the black lives matter one that received silver. I personally liked that one better than the image of the Donald Trump rally that won gold.

Real Person Photo Project

newcombfinalPaul Newcomb sits outside of Kaldi’s Coffee, his guitar resting by his legs. “I’ve been writing music since I was 19, first song in 1982. I fell in love, and I wrote about that.” He has lived in Columbia for his entire life except for when he served in the Navy in 1973.


Athena SheltonAthena Shelton sits outside of Lakota Coffee waiting to meet up with some friends. She has lived in California, Iowa, Indiana, Alabama, Florida, and now Ashland, Missouri. “It’s [Ashland] a very very small town, I’m not used to small towns so I don’t really like it. I love Columbia, I try to get out here as much as possible.”

coteTom Rote, dressed up for Halloween, enjoys the mild fall day in downtown Columbia. Rote, an aeronautical engineer, has built hot air balloons in the shape of corn on the cob and a football. Now, he lives on a farm outside of town. “I went to Des Moines Tech and decided it was way too cold there so I went south to Missouri. I bought an oak tree farm and now I’ve been here 30 years.”


Self Critique: 

Looking back on this project, I’m happy with the pictures I took. It was one of my first times using a camera of that caliber so I was nervous I was going to really mess it up. Cameras are very complicated, but I looked at my notes and was able to figure it out.

I was hesitant to stop people walking down the street because I didn’t want to disturb them from their day, so I looked for people who were sitting down and seemed like they would have time to talk to me.

When I was talking to people I thought I was getting a lot. I talked with each person for several minutes and I had a nice conversation with them. When it came time to take what they said and make captions, I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought. The more I looked at what I had gotten from them, the more questions I had. At the time when I was interviewing them, I wasn’t sure what I could ask. I wasn’t sure what was too personal to ask a stranger. For instance, Paul Newcomb was in the Navy, but I didn’t know how to ask him about that, or if it was appropriate for me to do so. Also, Athena Shelton has lived in six different states and she’s only a teenager, but again I wasn’t sure if I would be crossing a line by asking why she had moved so much.

Thinking about it now, I think I would’ve asked those questions if I did the project over. Even after this one experience I feel so much more confident about talking to strangers. Not that I’m uncomfortable talking to strangers, but this was different. I’ve never sat down with a random person and had a conversation with them on the spot while thinking about, and I’ve never asked someone I don’t know if I could take their picture.

I liked this project a lot. I really enjoy looking at photographs, so it was fun to be the one taking them for a change. Mary Beth’s talk with us helped motivate me to get out there and as she said “have fun with it.” I had more fun than I thought I would. Once the conversation got rolling and I relaxed and started engaging more naturally with the person, I almost forget the reason I was there.



Seen/Unseen Reaction

One of the first things that struck me about the exhibit was the diversity of the people she photographed. Obviously every person in the world has a different story and different lived experiences, but it was so evident to me when I walked in the room. I found the portraits incredibly beautiful and moving.

My favorite image was of Trudy, the elderly woman with red hair wearing a fabulous aqua turtleneck. I like how she’s not looking at the camera, and the soft, very small smile on her face. Mary Beth met Trudy when she came across her house and saw her crocuses in bloom. She went back later and knocked on her door and asked if she could take her picture as part of her project. Trudy revealed that she was an artist too and was willing to be a subject. In her blog Mary Beth talked about the pictures of flowers that Trudy had painted. She told Mary Beth “I just can’t let them die.” When I read that I got little chills, it was just such a beautiful idea. Trudy is a German immigrant and she talked about what it was like to live through the war. She seems like an incredible woman and I think Mary Beth really showed that with the portrait and with the parts of their conversation that she chose to share on her blog.

Another image that struck me was the portrait of Annye, the African American woman in the yellow suit and plum hat. Mary Beth told us that Annye makes all her own clothing which I find fascinating. In the blog it says that Annye has eight children. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to eight children, I can barely take care of myself.

I guess those two images stuck with me the most because they were both of elderly women who each seem very capable and exciting despite their ages. I feel like sometimes in our society we cast aside the elderly but they have so much to say and teach us, and they’re perfectly functioning members of society. They are also women that have lived through really important historical events. The portraits and blog posts made me want to get to know the women in the pictures. I value strong female characters in my life and in the world. I think it is very important for girls to see strong, capable women of all ages and these images do that.


What I Learned in Audio

Before this class, I was indifferent about audio. Growing up I enjoyed listening to public radio with my dad on the way home from school, but once I started driving myself places I switched from NPR to whatever pop music station was playing my jams. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this unit. I imagined it may be my least favorite of the three units, but I was very surprised. I never realized how much goes into making an audio piece. I enjoyed learning about how to set a scene with audio. It was fun collecting ambient and natural sounds for my projects and then putting those together with my interviews to create something very cool.

Mainly this unit has changed the way I listen to things. Now when I enter a room or new space I really try to listen for all the things I can hear rather than immediately block it all out like I used to. I have a whole new appreciation for what goes into audio production. There are so many things to consider when collecting audio and when editing it.

I don’t see myself going into audio, but I definitely liked it and found it more exciting than I thought I would. I think doing this unit after already having done the video unit made it easier. It was so nice to be able to focus on one thing and not worry about collecting good video in addition to audio. As far as what could make this class more useful to me, I’m not sure, I already found each class quite useful. I thought that going over our rough drafts in class was very helpful and I learned a lot from that. I also learned a lot when we listened to different audio pieces and broke them down identifying ambient sound, natural sound, etc. and going over how they all worked together to set the scene and tell the story. Going over audition in class multiple times and having specific questions about audition answered also helped a lot with my projects. To make this class more useful to me I probably could have made more of an effort to listen to more audio pieces outside of class. Overall I had a very positive experience with audio and I’m happy with my time spent in this unit.

Audio Postcard Reflection

My interviews for the audio postcard went well overall. For my postcard and NPR style project I interviewed three people in total. The first interview I conducted was with a girl on the triathlon team after one of the team’s swim practices. It was about 9:30 pm and she was EXHAUSTED. The interview was not the best because her exhaustion reflected in her voice and in her answers. After the interview she told me that I could interview her again if needed, not right after she had just worked out if the interview wasn’t what I was looking for. I listened to the audio the next day and decided that I would try again with her. This time I interviewed her before practice and the difference was amazing, she had so much more energy in the second interview.

Another issue I encountered when interviewing one of my subjects was an issue with the mic. I was holding the mic well, but then after I started asking him questions he got really close to the mic and was talking down into it, so I tried to adjust it without seeming too abrupt or rude.

When I was listening to my subjects I made sure to not give verbal feedback, but made eye contact with them and would nod my head or use my facial expressions to give feedback. I also used the silence trick to try and get them to say more. In the future, I would try to be more engaging, there were a couple times where I noticed I wasn’t looking at my subject anymore, I was listening to what they were saying and thinking about it, but for some reason my gaze drifted away from them.