Working at The Brunswickan

The Benefits of Weekly Assignments

Photojournalism still baffles me.  I don't think I could quite handle the pressure of a daily paper, but I was fortunate enough to push myself into volunteering for the weekly University of New Brunswick's school paper, The Brunswickan. What I didn't realize was how much it would encourage me to improve my photography.  

My first set of assignments included a local artist and basketball, both men's and women's.   The local artist, Mike Erb, happened to be a photographer once working for the bruns as well.  That first shoot was pretty nerve-wracking, but I stuck to my guns, set up an umbrella and went to town on getting the best photo I could.  

Mike, posing happily after we got the lighting set up and props in place.

Then came the basketball games.  I'm 5'7" and have never played any organized form of the sport.  Needless to say, it took some trial and error to get decent shots.  I found most of the lighting around UNB to be very unflattering and incredibly weak.  I was trying to push my shutter speed as high as possible, while still keeping a good working ISO.  My results were terrible at first, but I began to get the timing down.  Women's Basketball was a good trainer because the athletes were not much taller than me.  Then the men hit the court and I was working with a whole new set of challenges.  These guys were big, tough and can jump.  

From the first couple games of Basketball I shot, I knew I'd have trouble with it.

By the end of 3 months, I was getting more successful with all my photos, but nothing came easier to me than Hockey.

One of the shots from the first hockey game I shot for the UNB VReds.

I know that there are some photographers out there who will disagree quite vehemently that hockey is an easy sport to take photos of, but the fact is that as someone who's played a lot of hockey, I found it quick to learn.  I was even using a frame-rate of 3.7fps.  I did find, however, that my best images came when I was using the school's 70-200mm F2.8 glass, as long as the other photographer wasn't busy.

This shot was taken during the last game that UNB played this season at the CIS Nationals. It was a heartbreaking affair; UNB was the favorites to win in their home rink.

I got better over time. It simply took taking more photos, but I got better.  I found myself in interesting, inspiring situations where I could really push my limits.  I've always been of the mindset that if you're not flying by the seat of your pants, if you're not sweating with fear by the middle of each photoshoot, terrified that you may not get the shot, you're not trying hard enough.

Hey Rosetta played to a sold out crowd at the Boyce Farmers Market.  I was able to get in for free due to my association with the Bruns, where otherwise I would have bought tickets and taken my chances.

Sometimes sports photography can put you right at the action, where you feel the boards shake with a big hit, or the puck flies right at the glass where you're standing.  This puck left a black mark where the glass was otherwise clean and I had to find a new place to shoot from.

I've heard from Scott Kelby that if you want to get photos that look interesting you have to put your lens in front of interesting stuff.  That's essentially what the Brunswickan gave me access to.  Concerts, people, food, and sports are just some of the things that you could take photos of by getting involved with a local paper.  Even doing some freelance stuff will enable you to step up your game and get some great looking stuff on the other side of your camera.

More tk...