By Unique Rodriguez
During our trip to Minneapolis, and visiting the campus of the University of Minnesota, I learned so much from the CMMW conference. My track was photojournalism, learning how to tell a story with your photos. But we learned much more than that. With our teacher Bradley Wilson, we also learned about leadership, team management, editing, journalism, and what makes a good storytelling photographer. Our first days in our track focused on learning about our cameras, and how to use them. We did a couple of exercises to test our skills and critical thinking. First, we went over lighting, how can it affect your photo, and how to use it to your advantage with shooting different types of people. You have the front light, backlight, and side light, all giving different effects to your photo and affecting your subject in different ways.
Next, we went over our shutter and aperture, how it can change your photo, good and bad, and how to use these tools to your advantage. We did the water balloon exercise, where you have a subject and anyway they can they pop the water balloon, whether that's throwing it, squeezing it or having someone else throw the water balloon at them, the goal was to capture the best expression and best-exploding balloon. With this exercise, we learned about our shutter speed and capturing the moment. Not just sitting and waiting for something to happen, but watching, anticipating and capturing a moment. We also talked about not being afraid to get in close on our subject. Many of us got our lens wet because of how close we got to the water balloon, but the result was definitely worth it.
While we learned a lot about the technical side and using our camera, we also learned how to create a story with our pictures. Our last assignment for the conference was to go over to a neighboring "town" and find a story. Whether it's about a particular person or a business, find a story and tell it through your photos. The town was called Dinkytown, and it was actually quite small. With only a few blocks of establishments, it still had a very welcoming feeling. We had to step outside of our comfort zone, talk to people, get their story and translate that with pictures. I feel like skill was especially useful to me because working on the Signal's photo staff that is our job. And it is a skill that I lack in because sometimes it can be hard to talk to people and to take that story and translate it into a meaningful picture. This conference and this experience has help me to create that skill and use them. So that when I am back home and working with a writer and trying to come up with interesting and create photo ideas, I can pull from this experience.