Assessment 1 part 2 – Researching

Research your proposed publication and its agenda and aesthetic. Who is its audience and how is photography used to communicate ideas?

With a range of topics discussed in each issue, the Big Issue reaches a wide audience, but appeals directly to those who consider they have a ‘social conscience’.   The magazine is very pro active in maintaining transparency, with several areas of the website, and each issue explaining exactly how the consumer price is divided up, and re stating their independent stance.

The photographs in the magazine are used to highlight stories, and especially to put a human face on the articles.  While many articles have only one image, there are several articles in each issue with multiple images, varying from quite candid shots, to technically complex, well set up studio images, and everything that can possibly range between.

Describe the magazine’s typical reader

A typical purchaser of the Big Issue is me.  Well, probably a little younger than me (I am 49), judging by the people who I watch stop and buy outside Southern Cross station (where I first became aware of this magazine).  To hazard a semi educated guess after watching one vendor, I would estimate the average age at 30.  They seem to be quite well educated, judging by the breadth of articles, have a keen interest in the world around them, and are willing to step up and be counted about current issues that affect their world, and the world of those around them.

What kind of stories does the magazine run?

There are many subjects in each issue, with the publication priding itself on covering a variety of topics and in their approach.  Serious when needed, but always with a number of humorous or quirky articles to maintain reader interest, I have seen articles on creating the perfect retreat for a teenage girl’s room (thus confirming my belief that middle age Australians, who I am interested in reaching, are among the target audience) to an article on touring abandoned buildings in Europe, through to interviews with celebrity chefs.  Each issue contains an article which highlights one of the vendors of the magazine, keeping an important human face on the enterprise.  The website and several advertisements in each issue also offers information on other programs that the organisation runs, with an emphasis on empowering disadvantaged or marginalised women, and education of children about social issues.

How many photographs are used in a feature story?

Each story has varying requirements for images and word count, with guidelines being listed on the FAQ page, however, there appears to be a lot of flexibility around those guidelines, with my count for one article being six images, which appears to exceed the stated guidelines.

How are the photographs used within a feature story?

Photographs are used to create interest within a story, portraits of interviewees being quite common,  pictures of topical interest quite often being on the cover (the current issue shows a horse and a pretty girl in a spring races outfit), several stories will show pictures that illustrate various points within that story, and others will depict and emphasise the humorous or serious side of the story.

Are the pictures mainly informative or illustrative?

The vast majority of the pictures do appear to be illustrative, but again, there is a wide range that changes per issue, I can discern no set ratio.

Does the magazine use one style of photography or a variety of approaches?

With many photographs being taken by the contributing author, they vary widely according to the taste and style, and indeed, the equipment available.  The magazine does frequently commission photographers and other artists for various articles.

If the magazine commissioned you, what other factors would you need to consider when planning your shoot?

As I have changed the focus of my story after discussions with several people, including my lecturer and some potential subjects,  I would need to consider the national focus of the magazine, and attempt to find sources from different areas, so as not to seem too ‘local’ for publication.  I would also need to keep the tone quite upbeat to appeal to the widest possible number of readers.

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Process Diary – Assessment 1, Work in Progress

I am looking to compare the negative media portrayal of motorcycle clubs, with the reality of the vast majority of motorcycle riders.

Who to target this at?? Ideally 30-50 year olds, who are seen as looking forward to the social aspect of retirement, and maybe even planning for it.  With the Ulyssians as my counter subject to the media hype and fear, many of that age group who ride will have heard of them.

To this end, I will need to start with a slide that is a collage of media images, overlayed with headlines, this will mean a LONG bibliography list!

I plan to counter that by taking images of my own.. images of charity rides, images of small towns benefiting economically from groups of motorcyclists visiting, not sure how to do that one, possibly a line of bikes outside a small cafe? – a smiling store owner handing a coffee over to a leather clad motorcyclist??

I want to include the absurdity of the new laws in various states, but how to do that in an image??

There needs to be some images of conservative motorcyclists, wearing correct safety gear, on fuel efficient scooters etc

Also needed will be a shot that epitomises the social aspect of motorcycle riding.

SHOT SUGGESTIONS FOR A GOOD PHOTO ESSAY

OPENING SHOT – to set the scene, but not tell the whole story

REVEAL – introduce characters

ENVIRONMENTAL – show characters and their relevance to the story – 2-3 images

DETAIL – use to add body to story , similes acceptable

MOMENT/ACTION – summarise the essay with a single shot

EFFECTS – consider using blur, flash or pan shots

CLOSING SHOT – end of story.

Written Essay

Can be quite personal, must explain reasoning behind the theme and should provide context

MY IDEAS

OPENING IMAGE

collage of media images (not mine, but credited), perhaps a Ulysses image on the right of the slide?

REVEAL

Social shot showing friendship, perhaps in riding gear with bikes in background?

ENVIRONMENTAL

old guy at Calcallo service station, too old to ride, but still goes to say hi.  Ride leader in cafe shoot, Image from charity ride with toys or disabled people that we help?

ACTION

panned shot of bikes on road (rural background), two old clasped hands???

CLOSE

group shot of more than 3 bikes (that is number law affects) heading down a long road

PERMISSIONS

I will need permission from the riders and charities and retailers that I photograph, and I will need to properly credit all media sources – I also need to reference the dates and times of all rides, and all quotes from those who give them.

I also need to research submission guidelines for the Big Issue, my intended publication

Insurance?? probably not an issue in this case, as I will be covered by CTP while on rides.

OHS – I have all appropriate safety gear and riding gear from being involved with motorcycles for so long

SOURCES

Some sources so far:

http://www.motorbikewriter.com

http://www.theaustralina.com/au/media/opinion/bikie-stories-fulfil-the-daydreams-of-losers/story-e6frg990=1226733796908

Hunter S Thompson quote “Hells Angels is a 100 carat headline”

abc.net.au/news/2009-03-24/police_arrest_bandido_bikie_outside_court/1629769

Assessment 1 – Pitching Your Idea

Decide on a subject, your story angle and consider what magazine, newspaper or other media outlet might be interested to publish it.  Your story should be something you are interested in and which you have a passion for and wish to explore further. Whilst it is important you have the agreement and cooperation of your subject, you must present your story from your own subjective viewpoint and in the context of your proposed media audience.

My story is going to be how, despite the recent media sensationalist hype about bikie gangs, and the many new laws targeting them, many Australians are still enjoying motorcycle riding as a social and group activity, with a particular emphasis on the older Australians who are members of the  Ulysses club, the largest motorcycle riders club in Australia, whose membership is restricted to those aged over 40, and a vast majority of members are over the age of 60.

After much consideration and considerable research, I have decided to submit to the Big Issue as a lifestyle piece, focusing on the quality of social activities offered to older Australians through the Ulysses club, it’s activities, wide network of members, and their charity work for various organisations.

Research your proposed publication and its agenda and aesthetic. Who is its audience and how is photography used to communicate ideas?

The Big Issue are a not for profit based publication and independent publishin company, their ethic is to help the disadvantaged while providing a slightly irreverent view on culture, current affairs, lifestyle news and opinion.  It is edited by a Walkley award winning journalist and author.

The Big Issue is an Australia wide paper publication with a well established web presence, whose articles are mostly targeted at those interested current affairs and other social issues. Photographs are used in nearly all articles, with many having several supporting images to convey the relevant message of the author.

Write a persuasive pitch explaining why your proposed publication might be interested in publishing your story. Explain why it would be of interest to their readers and what knowledge, skills and access to your subject you have that makes you qualified to shoot it.

I believe that the Big Issue will appreciate the point of view of my essay, as quite often motorcycling is seen as a young person’s activity, and frequently, the valuable social activity aspect for older Austrlaians is not widely known.  I hope to present it in a way that shows the fun times and some of the Ulysses motto of ‘grow old disgracefully”. With an aging population, the social interaction needs of older Australians is quite topical and can create interesting discussions among a wide cross section of society.

Write down the feedback you have received from your photo editor/lecturer and how it has helped you refine your story idea.

During discussions in class, it came to my attention that not many people were aware of motorcycle clubs as a social entity, and only a small number aware of the laws that are currently being rushed through several states.  After reflection on the discussions held, I decided to change the focus of my story to the social aspect of the Ulysses club for older Australians, as opposed to the absurdity of the various laws that were discussed.  I also realized that I was unaware of my of the independent media producers in Australia, so further research was required in that regard.

By changing the focus of my story, and making it a much more positive piece about a popular leisure activity, I hope to broaden the appeal and to be able to create more compelling images.