institute for documentary studies

{Week 14: Photo}

Week 14: Photo

It’s hard to believe the semester’s almost over. And yet, we’ve begun prepping for our gallery show, and screening nearly-perfect drafts of our classmates’ final multimedia pieces.
These are pieces that we struggled to lock down in our first (or, in special cases, last) weeks; ones where, in those early days, going out to interview, shoot and photograph was a terrifying prospect. These are pieces that now, despite having worked closely with many of my classmates, still surprise me in their skill, finesse, and ambition.
Anne, our multimedia instructor, asked if we wouldn’t rather have collaborated on our final projects. And I did, earlier in the semester, think jealously of past terms, when students worked in teams: one producing the radio piece, for example, the other taking photographs.
But as wonderful an experience as it was teaming up with my classmate Erika Lantz on our first multimedia endeavor, I’m glad that collaborating wasn’t an option for our final projects: I now know how to shoot, record, and edit a multimedia piece from start to finish, and by myself. I have clips that I can fully call my own. And I was able to pursue the stories on the subjects that only I was interested in.
We’re a highly critical bunch, with high goals and good taste – and sometimes it’s a hurdle to produce the pieces we initially envision. We complain a lot about it, too. “If you heard us talking about our stuff, you’d think we were truly terrible,” a classmate said.
But the truth is, we’re competitive in the real world. And what I’ve found to be the most gratifying about our multimedia experience, and what speaks to the level of the instruction, is that everyone — be it radio, writing or photo student — has risen together. Radio producers and writers have captured beautiful, impactful images (and with perfect exposure!). Photo students have crafted moving audio stories. From nothing, we were all lifted to the same professional standard — no one was left behind.