Category Archives: Photo

Online portfolios and the splash page

Each year I encourage my students to visit sites that aggregate the latest web design trends in hopes that they will become inspired.

This semester appears to be the semester of the splash page. A splash page is a page that is typically taken up by an image. Many students recruited someone to take professional portfolio pictures of them. As you browse these sites, you will see many sites feature an image of the student with a quote adjacent to their image.

Feel free to comment on their sites or visit sites from previous semesters.

Section 1
Kelly Andersen
Tara Boyd
Caitlin Cruz
Harmony Huskinson
Olivia Khiel
Leila O’Hara
Torunn Sinclair
Preston Sotelo
Cassie Strauss

Section 2
Hayden Packwood
Erin O’Connor
Vanja Veric
David Sydiongco
Ali Lasch
Haley Buntrock
Michelle Rivas
Hannah Shive
Devin McIntyre
Samantha Koukoulas
Sebastian Zotoff
Sonya Chavez
Haley Madden
Monique Zatcoff
Charissa Heckard
Mohamud Ali
Charles Hall
Daniel Escobedo
Osej Serratos

A Job is in the Details: 10 Tips on Elevating a Portfolio

I strive to help my students understand how to visually communicate their work with people. One way of reaching people is through their  professional portfolio.

If your school or department does not help students present themselves professionally online, your students will struggle finding employment. To help my future students and other people, I post my Online Media 305 students’ portfolios every semester. I was asked to present on how I help students with this task at the Journalism Interactive conference. In my presentation, I shared some of the advice I give my students.

1. Clean Design
You must help people “see” your content. The “seeing” of content can be enabled through the design principle of contrast. Our eyes like contrast. To create contrast, vary up site font size and type. A trend that some site creators are following is a minimalist design with big headings. Marie Catrib, Brian Hoff, and Jacqueline Guiterrez are examples.

Color is also another way to create contrast. Your website should not always be painted with blocks of your favorite color. One tip is to use color as an accent. I am not a fan of pink, but Jessica Goldberg used it effectively by including touches of it in her headings throughout her site. Remember, site design can affect your credibility.

2. Clear Navigation
Keep your navigation simple. One of the best ways is to categorize your work rather than forcing the visitor to scroll through a maze of unrelated clips. Some good examples of navigation include Dave Hill’s photo portfolio and Julia Tylor’s use of folder icons. You could also consider creating a tab for your latest projects.

3. About Me
One way to connect with the web audience is by sharing your passion for your work and people. A bio should not lead with “I am a student studying at XYZ university. I will complete my degree in 2014.” It is important to lead with your professional foot rather than your student identity.

People connect with faces and smiles. Post a natural-looking professional photo of yourself. Do not include the high school photo of yourself with a guitar or dance club pictures. Good examples include Laura Parkinson, Molly Smith, and Etka Poudel.

4. Contact
On a contact page, you should post your full name, a professional email address, and social media identities. Social media and community building skills are attractive to employers. Social media skills reflect that you understand how to connect your content to people. I would suggest Googling for free social media icons.

5. Resume
For SEO purposes, I require my students to post a portion of their resume in text. Stephanie Paeprer created beautiful contrast on her resume by using both a serif and sans serif font. Remember, a resume should be well-designed and the job responsibility section should include powerful verbs and specifics about what you did.

In addition, it is important to clearly communicate that a PDF copy of your resume is available for download.

6. Content Motivation
If you are a journalist, self-motivation is an expectation. The ease of publishing has enabled any almost person to publish content, but most people are not motivated to publish content on a regular basis.

  • Blog:  As you write, you learn more about yourself and the topic. I have posted tips on how to encourage students to publish blog posts, think of blog topics, and connect content to readers.
  • Clips: Michael Pollen linked to his articles appropriately by providing a headline, publication, summary and date of each article. To make increase levels satisfaction, add a summary paragraph for each multimedia project.  You should aggregate PDF copies and links to your articles. It is important to capture PDF copies of site pages because link stability can be an issue. You capture PDF screen grabs by selecting File > Print > Save as PDF.
  • Multimedia Web Series: A few ways to show your multimedia work is by creating a YouTube channel (e.g., Peter Hadfield), sharing social media releases for a company, launching your own radio program, or starting your own video web series on a issue in your community.

7. Services
Angela Grant clearly communicates her desire to get paid for her talents on her homepage. You should do the same. For example, Aaron Lavinsky created a separate tab listing his photography costs. This is an opportunity for you to earn freelance money and learn how to continue doing what you love following graduation.

8. Images
People are attracted to images. Anyone who uses Facebook can attest to the lure of images. Most people have access to a camera, and thus, there is no reason why you can’t post a photo portfolio such as this slideshow created by using Flickr.

If telling stories on the human condition is your dream job, show me humans. Photographs that display emotion and human faces can affect the visitor. Selena Larson included a photo from her volunteer efforts in Africa to show the type of work she desired. Stephen M. Katz and Poh Si Teng designed their portfolios with a similar intention.

9. Video Resume
More than 80% of U.S. internet users have watched an online video. People spend more time on a website if a video is present. One way to elevate your video resume is by making it interactive. Mashable reported on Graeme Anthony who used YouTube Video Annotations to help visitors more easily digest his video resume reel. Annotations enable you to create a video with clickable chapters.

10. Infographic
There are some simple tools to use to create a graphic that visually communicates your skill knowledge areas. Jeremy Pennycook‘s circles, Jessica Goldberg’s WordCloud, and Heather Billing’s interactive graphic are examples.

Take advantage of free services that help you present your resume in a creative way. I suggest to all my students to sign up and complete bios on free sites such as About.me (e.g., Lee Semel),  Flavors.me (e.g., Jade Rehder), and Visualize.me (e.g., Erica Swallow). Also, some sites for design inspiration include WebDesigner Depot‘s web design trends, flavors.me directory, and Leslie-Jean Thornton’s aggregated list of examples.

I tell my students that the only limitation is your mind. Give yourself or your students’ time to be creative. To help them transform a blank page into a website, tell them to list words and draw pictures that come to mind when they think about their lives and their career. Every semester I am taken aback by what they accomplish when given the time.

Journalism and PR student multimedia project examples

My sophomore-level Online Media students create both professional portfolios and small team websites each semester. This is their first college classroom experience using technological tools to share their research, reporting, and stories. I select approximately one-third of their projects to publish for the CronkiteZine each semester.

I wanted to share with you some of their projects to show how capable students can be when given the foundation. The foundation includes the teaching of typography, web writing, multimedia storytelling, and web design. I wish I could spend more time on multimedia storytelling, however time constraints do not allow it. My hope following this class is that they will continue creating such content on their own.

Final Projects

ASU Crime – Each year ASU Police publishes crime statistics. This website is dedicated to going more in-depth to see what those numbers really mean.

Scars of War – In 2001, the United States became embattled in the longest war in U.S. history. Since it began, more than 42,000 military members have returned home injured. This piece investigates how service people transition.

Photo Enforcement - This site was created to provide accurate, objective reporting on the issue of photo enforcement.

Undocumented Students and the Dream Act – This site attempts to explain the complex realities undocumented students face in immigration law and shed light on the piece of legislation they hope will allow them to become lawful citizens: the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act.

Citizens of Nowhere – Once refugees become citizens, they often create cultural centers and continue their traditional celebrations. This site shares stories of their transition.

The Perils of Public Transit – A team of reporters sought to more precisely understand the public transit conflict. You can read stories about local bus drivers, the dangers that Phoenix bus operators face, the status of contract negotiations, and the future of passenger service.

Immigration Economics – Joe Arpaio’s office has arrested hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants, but little is known about what happens to those affected.

Practical Trash – This is a project devoted to informing people about  dumpster diving or uses for trash.

Pulse on a Corner – A story of two men who spend their days at an intersection of a popular coffee shop and restaurant.

Parting with Pets – The goal is to provide information and support to pet owners who may be preparing for the death of their animal.

Students Face Economic Hard Times – Many students at Arizona State University are feeling the pinch. This site breaks down how it is affecting them.

Copyright basics including resources for free multimedia

My students are required to create and design original content in my Online Media class. In some cases, they are allowed to include other creators’ work on their sites. I lecture briefly on copyright. This semester I decided to dedicate more time to the topic.

Much misinformation exists about copyright. Mark S. Luckie lists common copyright mistakes. Google Images are not free for inclusion on websites. Students will often ask if it is permissible to use a photograph if they credit the source, however it is important to understand that citing the source does not equate to permission from the author.

Permission must be asked before taking multimedia content from another source, according the U.S. Copyright Office, unless “embed code” is adjacent to the content (e.g., YouTube). Or students can take their own pictures, record their own audio, or shoot their own video. Students should also not alter the image or use a derivative of the author’s work unless permission is given.


Copyright Basics

Copyright is “a form of legal protection automatically provided to the authors of ‘original works of authorship,’ including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.” Copyright lasts for the life of creator + 70 years from the author’s death.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides a nice overview of what works are copyright protected and fair use. @JackRosenberry shared with me an entertaining YouTube video using Disney snippets to explain copyright and fair use. Frank Lomonte from the Student Law Press Center tipped him about the video.


Public Domain Resources

Some organizations provide content that is classified as public domain, which means property rights are held by the public:


Stock Image Resources

Students can also use stock photos for free or for a price. Here is a list of sites that offer free stock photos:


Creative Commons

People have access to creative commons content because authors/creators provide permission through Creative Commons licenses. Authors can choose from a variety of licensing options. A person must read the author’s restrictions related to the use of their content before posting the author’s content. Authors often times allow people to use their work as a way of promoting themselves, and thus, they want credit for their work. Creative Commons (CC) “is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier to share and build upon the works of others consistent with copyright. We provide free licenses to enable sharing,” according to Vice Chair of Creative Commons Esther Wojcicki.

This screencast shows you how to navigate creative common search engines. Here are some sites that host or provide access to free creative commons content and other sites:


Licensing Your Site

Students can copyright their blog or site as well, however it can be costly. Law student Ruth Carter said at a PodCamp AZ conference that it costs $65 every three months to copyright a blog. You do not have to register your site/content to receive copyright protection, however @rbcarter said the advantage is you are able to sue for more money if someone steals your stuff. If someone steals your content, you can also sue for statutory damages ($200 – $150,000 per infringement) and attorneys fees, rather than just actual damages.

Look who’s back

It is a new semester. I have decided to rejoin the social media sphere (at least on a professional level) again. I am teaching online media this semester. If you would like to view my syllabus, please do. I break the semester into three parts: social media, visual communication and site creation. Feedback is always welcomed.

Also, Dave Stanton shared his syllabus with me. It is definitely worth a visit.

Creating a Panorama is easy

I absolutely love how much easier it is to create cool online informational features. I want to share with you an easy way to create a Panorama in Photoshop.

  1. Set your camera on a tripod or hold it very steady and at the same height. Take pictures slightly turning in one direction. You want the photos to overlap one another. You may even want to take two pictures per shot as back up. It is best to shoot in a location that is larger, rather than a smaller location such as an office because it will be difficult to capture the entire room when standing in one location because you cannot zoom or move to fit each shot in the frame. You also want to pick a location that is even in lighting, or you can fix the photos in Photoshop.
  2. Place pictures that you want to keep in a newly created folder. Place them in the order that they will turn in the room.
  3. In Photoshop, go to File > Automate > Photomerge
  4. In dropdown menu, select Folder, rather than File > Select Browse > Find your folder > Okay
  5. Then you will export your Panorama into a player: File > Export > Zoomify
  6. Select a background color > Folder (create folder) > Select quality (8-10) > Select browser size option (650X400 for larger) > Okay
  7. Find your file in the location you saved it. The .html file is your panorama, but you will want to keep all of the files to incorporate the panorama into your Web page.

I have incorporated this information in a handout on my teaching page. My student, who loves photography, also provided some additional advice. He said that it is best not to shoot zoomed all the way out, but instead shoot medium shots when shooting a panorama. Also, he said not to shoot scenes with a lot of detail such as fruit stands with lots of fruit because the pictures will have difficulty stitching together. This can be fixed in Photoshop, but it will take time. Also, Mindy McAdams included some links to panoramas in a blog post.

To what extent should we embrace multimedia?

More news organizations are buying digital video cameras for their reporters asking them to gather video for their stories. I am supportive of this practice, however it is important to understand how people process visual information.

Research conducted by Mendelson and Thorson featured in the Journal of Communication argues that there are two types of learners: visualizers and verbalizers. Visualizers process information more quickly by viewing images, while verbalizers prefer to learn by reading text. In the experiment, participants read two stories: one with a photo and the same story without a photo. Their results showed that the presence of a photo hindered high verbalizer’s recall of the story, while moderate to low verbalizers were aided by the presence of the photo.

This study is interesting because newspapers are a predominantly textual medium, and thus a potentially significant portion of newspaper readers may be high verbalizers. Could newspapers be losing their loyal readers if they provide a photo or video adjacent to every text story? It would be interesting to find out whether the “typical” newspaper reader is a vebalizer and if the move online may affect the liklihood that they continue reading the publication online. Or could online news organizations package information differently, meeting the needs of both verbalizers and visualizers? Perhaps, a site could provide two separate links to a story presented in two different ways: one textual and one visual.

Using digital photos for self-presentation

There is an interesting research article in the Visual Communication journal addressing how digital photos are now used more often for capturing moments, rather than capturing memories. In the past, the camera belonged to the family, however today it is used more by individuals, especially young people. The digital photograph is now more about visually communicating experiences with friends and family. The process of sharing photos is about confirming a bond or friendship, according to the article, “.” For example, on Facebook, users post a collection of photos showcasing their time at a football game or dinner with friends.

I began thinking about how news organizations can use this information to reach younger people:

  1. News organizations could encourage the submission of a photo album, rather one photo. One photo does not always sum up one’s experience.
  2. Information outlets could send breaking news photos to mobile phones.
  3. A blogger could shoot a photo of themselves at an event and tell readers of his/her plan to share his/her perspective.
  4. News organizations could ask for photos from users who experienced a tragedy or newsworthy event. This could be a sidebar to many different types of stories.
  5. Ask for photo submissions about what it means to be (fill in the blank). Examples include Democrat, Republican, a resident, or a member of a group.
  6. One of my students suggested allowing news users to comment on photos, not just text stories.