Photographer Lori Waselchuk‘s three-minute video titled Our Own Little World was one of several noteworthy projects produced by participants at the 2013 NPPA Multimedia Immersion workshop at Syracuse University earlier this month. The five-day workshop, which was attended by a PDN editor David Walker at the invitation of the organizers, started with a crash course in multimedia storytelling and production, and quickly moved on to hands-on training in one-man-band video production. Workshop participants drew assignments out of a hat, then hit the streets to shoot the stories. Back at the Newhouse School of Public Communications, where the workshop was held, coaches helped participants shape and edit their stories.
We asked Waselchuk to tell us a little about her project, and how she pulled it together.
PDN: What was the assignment you got?
Lori Waselchuk: It said, “Keith (Traub) and Theresa (Daddona-Traub) are making furniture from recycled farm materials” and then it gave the name of their business (Unite Two Design) their address and contact info. It was very brief.
PDN: How did you conceive and construct the story from that?
LW: The workshop helped me walk into the story. Bruce Strong‘s lecture on story telling helped me take the basics–who, what, when, where and why– and develop a story arc that has commonality and universality for an audience. Keith and Theresa’s story came out in the interview. I interviewed Theresa first. She was really open. When I asked, ‘how did you start to make furniture?’, she was able to talk honestly and authentically about their journey.
PDN: Did you do the interviews before you started shooting? How did the interview inform what and how you shot?
LW: As a photographer, I get my visual cues from interviews. That was a natural process for me. I needed to know more about who these people were. As they were telling their story, I was able to figure out the important aspects. Theresa spoke about their journey and lessons learned. Keith was shyer about their journey. Working with the farm materials is what gives him his creative oxygen, so I had him talk about the craft, the artwork. He talked about collecting materials, and building relationships with farmers whose farms are no longer in use. He goes out to farms to collect stuff. So I asked if we could go out on one of his scavenging hunts. He made it happen the second day. I drove to Keith and Theresa’s place half an hour before they arrived so I could get the sunrise shots. I wanted to show the texture around their place in early morning light. Keith rolled in, then we went out to the farm, collected, then I spent the rest of the day shooting them at work.
PDN: Why was texture around their place important? What did it contribute to the story?
LW: it was a phenomenal space visually, so I needed to capitalize on that. I wanted to get the quietness, the peacefulness of the place. it’s a bit of a treasured space for them, so I wanted to be able to describe that color and texture.
PDN: What was the biggest challenge you had producing this story?
LW: Shooting felt quite natural. I felt good about photography. It was the sound that I would not have known how to handle. The challenge is to creature texture in editing between sound and visuals. McKenna Ewen (one of the workshop coaches) helped me create those complex mixtures of sound and visuals in the editing. The way he layers those things is something I would never have been able to do. The biggest challenging for me is the editing.
PDN: What were the biggest lessons you learned, about story telling or production?
LW: I loved the intensity of the workshop. It made me feel the way I used to when I was a photographer for a daily newspaper. I’m super excited about the demands of video, and the learning curve ahead. I needed that inspiration.
(Other videos from the workshop are posted on Vimeo. Search “NPPA immersion 2013”)
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