On Covering Stories I Don’t Usually Cover
I usually photograph (and write about) the HIV and AIDS community and the LGBTQ community, and often photograph ad campaigns for small businesses and nonprofits, again, mostly related to HIV or LGBTQ, and also fitness and such. And so, when I ended up using my photography to help promote a new nonprofit in Jersey City, Resilient JC, I realized that, while I knew some of the wonderful RJC members, I was not quite familiar with their work or the mission of their nonprofit–that is disaster preparedness and readiness, as I found out. And so, in order to attempt to do a decent job, I first had to understand as much as possible about RJC myself. That required spending time talking to those involved in disaster preparedness here, in the NYC area, listening to their stories, and familiarizing myself as much as possible with the subject I was about to photograph. Having covered several severe weather events did come in handy because part of the RJC’s job is to get communities prepared and ready for natural (and even man-made) disasters.
This past weekend, on Friday, Oct 13, I covered the Resilient JC launch event and had an amazing time. It was an interesting experience.
So, here’s my take on sometimes getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new:
- while it’s a good idea to specialize (in up to three categories of professional photography is the advice), once in a while it’s also nice to try your hand at documenting, capturing something new, in particular if you’re interested in the particular subject/story [As a side note, years ago, when I started freelance writing, the advice was to ‘write what you know’. That wouldn’t have taken me too far. I didn’t know much about HIV/AIDS, yet I was quite interested in covering it (thanks to my mom). I’d say, write or photograph what you’re interested in. That way, you learn new things, expand your knowledge and become a better writer or photographer.]
- usually you’ve already done that kind of work (or not) in some shape or form–in this case, ResilientJC , it meant capturing headshots for profile pictures, covering events or whatnot;
- the above being said, in order to do the best job possible when capturing subjects or stories you’re not familiar with, first do your homework and try to learn as much as possible, familiarize yourself with and understand the subject(s) or stories you are about to photograph;
- you might meeting interesting people, expand your network
- you might end up finding other stories or subjects you’d like to cover on a more regular basis
- photographing something new and unfamiliar but possibly of interest to you helps you brainstorm new photography possibilities, as well as look at your own work with fresh eyes
Here are a few images from the Resilient Jersey City launch event:
As always, thanks for stopping by,