MacEwan Documentary Photography Blog

Final Project Requirements

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on March 25, 2011

On March 31’s you have to give me:

#1. Your photo story presented on a “page” and saved as a PDF.
You don’t have to actually print your pictures off. Just create a canvas (any size. Eg. 22×17) in Photoshop and lay your pictures out.

1a. The picture layout doesn’t have to be super fancy. A simple black background with the pictures and text layed out will work.
1b. Though not required, it can’t hurt to have some nice design to your page anyways. Great design makes pictures look better 🙂
1c. There must be one paragraph of text on the page explaining what the story is. 5W’s. Tell me what the story is. Why I should care.
1d. Photos that need captions to explain what is happening should have simple captions under them.
1e. Spell check!  Get other people to read your words and make sure they make sense.
1f. Remember that less is always more.  Get friends to help you edit down your photos to the best ones that tell the story.
1g. Save your layout as a PDF and post it on your blog.
1h. Underneath the PDF on your blog should be a 5W caption (and/or the paragraph of text explaining the story)
1i. If your blog doesn’t support a PDF or if it looks too small then just post all the pictures separately with captions.
1j. Also email the PDF to me.

#2. Multimedia Slideshow of your story – take your images + audio/video  interviews that you have recorded and create an audio slideshow or video that tells the story.

2a. I expect someone (the subject or you) to tell the story in the audio. This can’t just be pictures and music. It needs a narrative story.
2b. Remember “say it and show it”. If a person talks about something then you need a visual (picture or video) to represent that.
2c. Shorter is usually better with multimedia. 2-3 minutes is a good guide. If it is longer than 3 minutes then it has to be REALLY good.
2d. If 2-minutes of talking can be summed up in 10-seconds of text then use text slides. If it is more important to hear the subject tell their story then let them tell the story. Use judgment.
2d. Remember you aren’t done editing until a room full of people who don’t care about your feelings watches your video and tells you what scenes can be cut out.
2e. Your video must be uploaded to YouTube and posted on your blog.
2f.  Underneath the YouTube video on your blog should be a 5W caption explaining what the video is about. Don’t assume I know the story already. Convince a stranger to click play.
2g. Also email the YouTube URL to me.

#3. A DVD-R with everything you have shot for me on it. (this is for MacEwan’s records so you can be mad at them not me 😉
-write your Name, date, and Website/Blog URL on the disc
-basketball assignment jpeg with ITPC caption info embedded
-news event assignment jpeg with ITPC caption info embedded
-environmental portrait assignment jpeg with ITPC caption info embedded
-short-multimedia video
-long-term multimedia video
-PDF with long-term story

Feel free to call me anytime 780-906-1253 if you need help with software, editing, tips, etc.

I’m usually up till Midnight every night and I wake up around 8am.  I’m faster to respond to calls than emails if you haven’t figured that out 🙂


Creating an audio slideshow in iMovie

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on March 5, 2011

I recorded a quick tutorial for making an audio slideshow in iMovie.

If you are having problems with the auto zooming-in photos click here.

If you need help with Audacity watch the first part of this video.

Also here are the quick settings for exporting a 720p HD video from iMovie.

Go to File–>Export/Share–>Quicktime—>Expert Settings–>Options


Environmental Portrait Assignment: 10% – due March 24

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on March 5, 2011

Create an environmental portrait of an interesting person and post it on your blog with a 5W caption by March 24.

The portrait has to “say” what the person does.  Eg, Fireman with a fire truck, artist with his canvas, musician with his guitar.  The environment around the subject is as important if not more important than the subject.

10% mark breakdown
4 – technical
-colour balance
2 – Relevant content. I should be able to tell what the person does without having to read the caption.
2 – 5W caption
2 – Impact. This is where art and creativity comes in. You can take an okay photo and get 80% if you do all the above. Make a creative photo that makes me tip my hat and you get 100%.

News Event Assignment – 10% – Due March 17th

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on February 11, 2011

Shoot a news event, write a 5W caption for it and post it on your blog by March 17th.

This is to be ONE single image that sums up the event. I am looking for the decisive moment. That one frame that represents the event or story.

This can be a spectacle, a well-framed photo that brings everything together or a portrait of someone that “says” the event.

This can be ANYTHING that is newsworthy. A press conference. A sports game. A charity event. A demonstration. A protest. Breaking News. ANYTHING.  Just read the paper or There are always preview stories for “tomorrow this will happen”

Do some googling. There are plenty of “what’s going on in Edmonton” event websites and blogs.  Part of the work for this assignment is you having to FIND a news event. Community websites, YMCA, I bet there are even student association events that happen at MacEwan.

Just get yourself out there and shoot an event or news story that is outside of your normal world. Your dog/cat/mom/friends are not a news event.

Note that if you want to be ambitious and shoot your news event AND your short-term multimedia assignment at the same time that is cool.

10% mark breakdown
4 – technical
-colour balance
2 – relevant content. I should be able to tell what the event is without reading the caption.
2 – 5W caption
2 – Impact. This is where art and creativity comes in. You can take an okay photo and get 80% if you do all the above. Make a creative photo that makes me tip my hat and you get 100%.

Short-term multimedia assignment

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on January 29, 2011
Assignment #2: Short Multimedia  (10%) Due Mar. 3/11
Create an audio slide show or a video containing still images.
Use any tools/software you want. It is the end-result that matters.
Slide show must be exported or converted into a video file and uploaded to YouTube and then posted on your blog/website.
Doesn’t need to be crazy complicated. Just Pictures + Audio or Video.
Something that tells me a story or informs me in a way that is better than just a photo and caption.
Give your photos a voice. Put me there. Make me experience the story.
Purpose of this assignment is to get you to use the tools/software/youtube/blogging so that you are familiar with them for your long-term multimedia project.

Your long-term photo story assignment

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on January 20, 2011

The Story Idea is King.

The main goal of this class is to produce a long-term photo story. This represents 45% of your final grade. You are marked on your ongoing progress (5% every two weeks = 20%) and the finished product is worth 25%.

You must have a multimedia component to your photo story. This means you can create an audio slideshow of your images combined with an audio interview or your subject. Or you could do video along with your still photography. Eg. Video interviews with your subject and then still images showing what your subject does.

Pull from personal experiences, local or national stories, an interesting person you have met or heard about. Find someone or something with an interesting story to them.

This needs to be a story that takes more than a day to capture. You can’t just follow a person one or two times and call it long-term. You must keep up with them every week and go deep into the story. I want your pictures to reflect your commitment to the story.

Research – find out as much about your subject/topic as you can at the start.  In this day and age it is very likely that you can find a related story somewhere on the internet. Not to copy but to inspire.

A great site to look at is

Use the Archive links on the left side to go back all the way to May 2005. Spokane Washinington is half the size of Edmonton and they find amazing stories everywhere. Plenty of audio slideshows and videos to give you inspiration for your own ideas.

Write a one paragraph proposal outlining the what, where, who, when and how of the story. This should be thought out, concise and well crafted. You are pitching the story to me. There should be a selling point of your story.

Imagine I am the photo editor for a magazine. I have a limited budget to buy photo stories.  Why should I spend money on you? What makes your story so special that I need to fund it?  Why would my readers care?

You are allowed to work solo on stories or you can double or even triple up on a story if you can justify it.
For example. One person can do stills and the other can focus on video and sound.
If you can show that having two people work on a project will produce a higher quality product then I will allow this. I will, of course, expect a higher quality product though.

I am very open to different ideas for this.  I would like a photo essay that tells a story in pictures but you are not limited to this. If you have an interesting idea for a different way to tell a story then go for it.

To be clear.

By Jan 27th you have to talked to me about your long-term photo story idea. You must have something. Even if you don’t think it is good, you just need something. We can take your idea and change/craft it into something great. Thats what I am here for.
This represents 5% of your mark. You have to show me that you have put thought into this idea.

By Feb 10th you must have a written proposal and some pictures to show me. This is 5% of your mark.
You will have started shooting your story and you will have a much better idea of who you are dealing with and what the focus of your story is going to be.

On March 3 you will have to show me the latest pictures from your story and you will be marked on your progress. 5%.
I’m not just marking on the quality of your pictures. I’m marking on the effort you have put into getting those pictures.

March 17 I’ll need to see more pictures and you have to show me that you will have a complete story by the March 31st deadline. 5%
We will work together to edit your pictures and start forming a story. If you haven’t gathered any audio or video by this time you better start getting the multimedia portion of your project together asap.

March 31st. Last class. Your finished photo story + multimedia component is due. 20%

Using Cyberduck FTP

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on January 11, 2011

FTP which stands for File Transfer Protocol is basically a way to transfer files to and from a server.

An FTP program allows you to connect to an FTP server and upload or download files.

Often clients require you to upload your pictures to their server. This is much better than emailing files.

You always need four things:

  1. server address  eg.
  2. username
  3. password
  4. folder path (if required. default none. eg. /Newsroom/Upload )

A nice open-source (aka free) program for Mac that I use is Cyberduck. You can download it here. There is a tutorial for the program here.

To create a bookmark for a new connection click on “Bookmark” then “New Bookmark”

Enter in the server address, username and folder path that the client should have provided you. You will enter the password when you connect.

Drag and drop the files that you want to upload onto the bookmark. It will ask you for the password. You can tell it to remember it.

As the file uploads a new window will pop-up listing transfers and progress.

You can also double-click on a bookmark to see the files on the server or drag files from the server to your computer.

Assignment #1: Create a Blog

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on January 10, 2011

Hi everyone,

Thanks you everyone who has sent me the URL to their website/blog so far.

Just to clarify Assignment #1 for everyone.

All you need to do is create a website or blog using any service you please and send me the URL by next class.

I recommend WordPress and have made a tutorial on how to setup a free wordpress blog here:

Livebooks is also incredibly popular for photographers and worth checking out. They have a student discount.

Other services you may want to try out are and They are free, very basic and give you a few different themes to choose from.

If you want more control of themes/design/plug-ins etc then I recommend buying your own domain and webspace and installing WordPress on your server. Note that you can turn off the blog part of wordpress and just have it as a website with portfolio, about, contact, etc.

Just to clarify you have two options with WordPress:

You can get a free blog hosted on WordPress’ servers (
Pros – easy/quick/free – you can still pay to replace with
Cons – limited control of themes, cant custom code anything, limited embedding options

You can buy your own domain name and your own webspace and “install” a wordpress blog on your server.
Pros –, way more control, thousands of themes, customize your own theme, embed your own code
Cons – costs a little money, a little more time involved to setup but not too hard.

I use which is $3.50/month for a gig of webspace and can automatically install WordPress and other blogging programs on your site with the click of a button.

If anyone needs any help or advice feel free to ask me.

Welcome class of 2011 !

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on January 10, 2011

All posts older than this one are for the 2010 class and newer than this one are…. guess what! … for 2011.

Links for class today

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Jackson on March 17, 2010
-free open-source music

5d cinema – shallow dof – movements –
-no idea how cheap it is now compared to 2 years ago

150 video tools

interviewing tips

-interesting way of interviewing
-common ground
-video interviews + powerful photos
-good example of embedding soundslides
-50 people one question
-good use of the photographer narrating
-paraplegic dog
-make one man in a room interesting by changing location 10 times
-Las Vegas Sun Youth forum
-Exonerated, freed and what happened then
-13 seconds in August
-Northern Lights
-Las Vegas Sun History
Sixth Sense
-Bionic Eye interfaced with brain
-Battle of the Bags: MSNBC
-360-degree video panorama!
-Art Gallery Tour

Fantastic journalism training