Johnny Andrews: Photography Is Only The Beginning
Before spring break my Writing for the Converged Media class welcomed in a special guest to talk about multi-media journalism.
Johnny Andrews (@johnnyandrews74) has worked for several newspapers across the United States. Andrews is currently a photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. While he has been a photographer at the Post for the better part of the last four years his duties have almost never been confined merely to taking pictures.
The change that has occurred in the field is being reflected in the job descriptions and requirements of those who take part in it. Andrews enlightened students to the art of learning on the job and adapting to new circumstances.
He showed us the camera he used to take still photographs for the assignments you have most likely seen in the Post-Dispatch. When he isn’t shooting stories for the paper he is staging photos for potential feature ideas. He showed off some of his favorites which are available for public viewing on his personal portfolio website.
A lot more work goes into each photo Johnny takes. It is more work than most people would assume. Johnny’s shots are really well composed. They all tell a story which does not need words to drive home its point. To adequately tell the story his vision demands Johnny has to tweak the arrangements of each photo he takes. He will spend up to a half hour rearranging the elements in the shot. The outcome is well worth it though. His shots are incredible.
Johnny has not just been confined to still photos alone. He was very clear in stating the way to be successful as a journalist is to learn. This is especially true for those who work with photos and video. One type of media is really no good without the other. Johnny taught himself the finer points of using video to tell stories.
One of the most notable stories he used video to cover was actually born out of curiosity. Johnny stumbled upon a group of kids in inner city St. Louis, Mo. who were spending their summer learing all about playing in a symphony.
Andrews routinely covers features or news stories using video. These stories appear on the Post-Dispatch’s website where they are frequently some of the most viewed content.
Turning Up the Volume
Johnny also produces a series of music videos which highlight the talents of St. Louis area bands. He is a proponent of trying out different methods in his videos. He uses lots of different cameras from all different price ranges to get the shots he needs to make his videos what he desires.
Bands like this are the kind of groups Johnny typically works with.
What Johnny Taught Me
Creativity is non-negotiable. If you want to make it in the media field reporting stories is not enough. You must generate ideas for content. Many of the stories Johnny tells are not ones he was handed. They are stories he had to seek out and pitch to his editor. Many times he even chronicles stories for his own personal collection.
Creating quality work is essential even when you know it won’t be published. That is how you ensure the strength of your brand.
One Final Note
Johnny is really down to earth. He even has been willing to interact with members of our class on Twitter since we met him last week. For young journalists like us that is really appreciated.
@BrandenSwyers hey! yeah, the pictures turned out ok but nothing really ground breaking. how about you?
— Johnny Andrews (@johnnyandrews74) March 28, 2012