Finding the Frame


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Here’s another easy way to add multimedia to your newspaper website. 

Shortly after the program Soundslides came out in August of 2005, I looked for an interesting way to use this Flash-based audio slideshow tool to tell different kinds of stories. One day in the photo department, as I passed the intern’s desk, I spotted a cool print of a guy reading a fashion magazine in a coffee shop. The way the top of the subject’s head matched up with the head on the magazine cover was eye-catching.  I asked photographer Kathryn Stevens how she got the shot. She launched into this passionate narrative about seeing this great moment lining up in front of her. How she rushed up to the subject and fired off a few frames on her digital camera just before the fleeting moment passed.

That’s when the light bulb went on above my head. I asked Kathryn to come into editing cave where I sat her down and recorded her telling me the story behind her photo. I edited the audio into a thirty-second clip. I then uploaded it and the photo into Soundslides and voilà - a great little piece of multimedia that took less than one hour to produce.

I called this audio slideshow feature Finding the Frame. It got an instant response from viewers who wanted more. Since then, when I see a great photo produced by the Spokesman-Review photo staff, I whip up a Finding the Frame. They have gotten a little more advanced over time as I’ve added other photos and a .pdf of the newspaper page that the photo ran on.

My other ulterior motive for doing these was that I wanted to educate readers and viewers about the creative process that a photojournalist goes through when making an exceptional image. Too many of our readers, in this age of Photoshop, think photographers alter the pictures that appear in the paper. This is my way of helping change that perspective. Finding the frames also go a long way in helping non-visual people understand that newspaper photojournalists are not button pushers as some have called them, but skilled journalists and storytellers who have a unique view of the world around them. 

Here are some of my favorite Finding the Frames:

Looff Carrousel, Chasing a Comet, Airmen Return, Tired Fireman, Demolition 

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2 thoughts on “Finding the Frame

  1. We tried something very similar to this for our pics-of-the-year feature on our site (http://www.canada.com/theprovince/features/yearendpics/index.html). I asked our staff photographers to pick their five favourites and then talk about the circumstances and why they liked the photo.
    Apologies for the uneven audio — we learned on this project how important it is to get that right — but you get the idea.
    I built this entirely in Flash, but it could just as easily have been done using a separate Soundslides show for each photographer, and launching them from a Flash interface page.
    I like hearing photographers talk about their pictures.

  2. I just watched all of the videos you linked to here, and they were terrific. Besides the benefits you describe, these kinds of features help humanize journalists, and God knows we need readers to remember that we’re people, too.

    I especially enjoyed Kathryn Stevens’ piece on the carousel. As an amateur photographer, I recognized the thrill of the moment when all your planning plus some serendipity adds up to a stellar image. That can’t help but make your day.

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