Friday, March 31, 2006

Thoughts on photo stories

So I'm nearing the end of Advanced Photojournalism 2 right now with Prof. Kaplan here at UF and realizing that I REALLY enjoy doing photo stories. I was pretty scared of them before this semester, but now working on my second one I realize how much I have the possibilty to enter a person's life and document their experiences and it just means so much more to me than to snap one shoot of a person on a daily assignment for the paper. I now understand why I've heard that professional photographers live to work on their personal photo stories and work to even be allowed to proposal a story.
I've also realized access is key to making the best out of a photo story. I was fortunate with my first story to almost have it handed to me, but with my second it has been a struggle to get where I am right now. And where am I? Well literally I am in room 215 of Gator Lodge right off of University Avenue, pretty much living with a homeless family until they get kicked out of the hotel tomorrow at 11 a.m. They don't have any shelter lined up right now but are full of "well maybe..."s. As the mother explained to me, poor people, even when they have money, don't save their money. It gets spent right away, it's just the way it is. The father worked on Wednesday doing manual labor for a friend and earned $70, but later that night they spent $40 of it. And that's all the money they have. They want to send the mother and child on a bus up to Cincinatti, Ohio on Wednesday, but they don't have money for a bus ticket. They actually only need half the money and a local charity will give them the rest but they don't have half yet, although they did on Wednesday before spending that $40. So how do I sit there and just watch all this happen? Well first off they don't want pity and the father refuses to ever panhandle, but I think time will tell on that one. I befriended the mother on the first day I spent with her as we gossiped and shared life stories about high school and growing up while her son was napping and there were certainly no more photos to be taken. She's only 5 years older than me and she says I remind her of her little sister. I guess that's one reason she openned up to me. When I say openned up I mean it. I heard everything. She also said it was nice talking to someone close to her own age because most of the homeless people they hang around with are older.
In summary, because I have to leave soon to go meet up with them again, I really enjoy doing this type of work. I am not that social of a person but this somehow makes me overcome that as I try to get them to open up and share everything about their life and their struggles.

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