Motor City Street Dance Academy Gives Local Youth Positive Outlet

Motor City Street Dance Academy in Southwest Detroit is a dance school that teaches various styles of street dances such as breaking and jitting. According to their vision statement MCSDA exists to give back to the community by developing the skills of those who they collaborate with to revitalize the city of Detroit through hip-hop and breaking. They strive to uplift the disenfranchised communities in Detroit, just like the pioneers of hip-hop did years ago. They work with and mentor the youth, while providing a safe space for them to express themselves.

I was able to document and sit in on a night where dancers of all different ages and skill levels were practicing and trying new moves. I had the privilege of talking with MavOne the founder and owner of MCSDA, about the academy and what it hopes to accomplish. I also spoke with Bboy Ironic a young dancer who is a student and a teacher at MCSDA about his experiences at the dance academy.

Mural outside of Motor City Street Dance Academy in Southwest Detroit

Portrait Photography with a Wayne State Volunteer

Portrait photography was a much different experience than any other form of photojournalism. I tend to be an outgoing individual so I didn’t think I would have much trouble approaching a stranger and asking to take pictures. It ended up being much more fun than I originally thought it would be. When we got into taking pictures I asked what he thought might be a good shot. For the head shot I told him to just be himself and I think the picture, while more could be going on in the background, does a very good job of showing off his personality through the expression on his face. The environment shot was a bit trickier because it wasn’t supposed to be a shot where he was moving it made some of the ideas he wanted to do a bit hard. In the end I just decided to do a full action shot of him dunking in midair, but to make it more like portrait and not like a sports shot I told him to really exaggerate and pose in the air. It was a very sunny day so turning up my shutter speed was no problem at all. I think that the picture came out great and really shows what it is that he does when he volunteers, as he is usually spending time with the kids and playing basketball with them.

I think I’m getting much better at taking pictures of people and capturing the moments of expression that really make the pictures speak. This assignment taught me how to collaborate and listen to the ideas of my subject which is important because often the best ideas come from the subject themselves, it’s just the photographers job to be able to execute that idea.

The Tribulations of Learning Sports Photography


Sports photographers need to be just as skilled as the players on the field, and just as prepared as well. I photographed a collegiate softball game, and the experience reminded me of something I was told playing little league as a kid, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.” This is almost true for sports photography, but the numbers are a little off it’s more like 99 percent mental and one percent physical. While quick reflexes are certainly necessary, the concentration that it takes to get a great picture and capture a split second moment takes precedent over all else. The second you lose focus could be the second that a big play happens and missing out on the big play could mean missing out on the big shot. Another large part of sports photography is knowing where to be to get the desired shot, planning ahead for what may happen. For example if the teams slugger comes up and you can tell she’s swing for the fences it may be a good idea to put yourself in a position to get pictures of her hitting rather than the pitcher or a fielder perhaps.

My experience shooting was trying, but educational as well. The first issue I ran into was that since I couldn’t be on the field I had to shoot from behind the fence which made it hard to get a clean shot. I also found that I had to get my timing just right since my low-end DSLR doesn’t have the quickest shutter. This took a while, but after getting in the rhythm of shooting, timing out fast action like pitches became much easier. At the end of the day I had definitely missed some great shots that I wish I could go back and get. I also had some pictures I was very proud of, and I think I learned a lot about what it takes to shoot sports.

Siblings Paint Pots at Wayne State Little Sibs Week

Feature photography makes up a majority of what a photojournalist shoots on an average day. I came across Aya and Saif, the subjects of the pictures I took, during Little Sibs Week where I knew there would be people out and about enjoying the spring weather. I decided to not do any posed pictures and to just stay patient as I circled the wagon in search of the best shot. I asked them before I started taking pictures if it was okay and they were both very cooperative and acted completely natural as if I wasn’t even there.

Before I even started taking pictures I surveyed the scene and the two of them looked like they were having a genuinely fun time . I knew that the pictures I took of them would turn out positive, which is somewhat important in feature photography. This is because the news can sometimes be depressing and feature photography can proved a diversion from the daily dose of real yet sad news. I felt like the expressions on their faces fit perfectly into the idea of capturing a slice of life. There isn’t anything exceptionally special about the two of them or the activity that they’re taking place in, but at the same time they are expressing genuine happiness and a sibling bond that many readers could relate to.

In conclusion, my feature writing experience was somewhat indicative of what a feature hunt for a working photojournalist might be. I showed up to a public event and waited for my shot, I observed and went in with an open mind. I didn’t necessarily hunt down the shot, the moments just happened around me, all I did was wait for that moment. The result was a collection of happy pictures that readers could relate to, and that could distract them from some of the more bleak new, if only for a second.

Oloman Cafe exhibits Detroit photographer’s 40 years of work

Detroit photographer Bruce Harkness unveiled a photo exhibit on Feb. 18 to be open to the public until March 18, at Oloman Cafe in Hamtramck.

The exhibit includes pictures taken over a 40 year period from Detroit, Hamtramck and Dearborn, showing the transformation the areas have undergone through the lens of his camera, said Harkness.

Harkness began taking pictures as an undergraduate student at the Center for Creative Studies in 1975, where he would walk the streets and photograph the city and its adjacent neighborhoods, he said.

“I would just get out and meet people, and take their pictures,” Harkness said. “I just started walking around the city. I walked down through the Cass Corridor, down Grand River into downtown Detroit, then I would walk back on the near east side—Brush street or John R.—through the old Brush Park neighborhood and I started photographing,” Harkness said.

The gallery is comprised of photos selected from 10 projects that Harkness has completed over the past 40 years. These projects include his documentation of Poletown before and during its clearing to make way for the GM Hamtramck-Detroit assembly plant in 1981 and photos from his project “A Community Between Two Worlds: Arab Americans in Greater Detroit,” which documents the Arab community in Detroit and Dearborn in the mid-1990s.

The exhibit shows the negative and positive changes that Detroit and its surrounding areas have experienced in the years since Harkness started photographing.

“It’s great to see what’s happening to Detroit,” Harkness said.

“The Cass Corridor has become kind of tidy, [but] when I was wandering down Cass Avenue and Third Street, it was not tidy, it was sort of a scary place, but that’s what I really loved, that’s what was so interesting to me—all the people out on the street and the buildings I was able to get into, but it’s good to see that it’s being cleaned up as long as people can still afford to live there—the new restaurants and new buildings and businesses are just part of the development of this boom in Detroit.”

The focus of the exhibit is on how Detroit and its neighborhoods have changed over the years, but Harkness says he believes it also speaks to the power of photography.

“I’ve always sort of believed in the simple magic of photography,” Harkness said. “The camera is like a magic key sometimes. I got out and met a lot of people, but if I didn’t have a camera that probably would not have happened—there’s something about that instrument, that tool of a camera that gives you a connection with people.”

The Oloman Cafe is located at 10215 Joseph Campau in Hamtramck. The exhibition is available for viewing at the cafe during the normal business hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday.

The Importance of Captions and How to Write them

Taking pictures is only half of a photojournalists job, the other half is writing captions which is just as important as the photography. Captions must be concise relevant information that accurately tells the reader what’s going on in a picture. Captions have the ability to transform a picture from ordinary to powerful, and a bad caption has the ability to destroy an amazing picture of graphic and make it very lack luster. Photo Captions are often the first part of a story to be read, and must quickly be able to make it clear to the reader how a photo is relevant to the news story.
Most captions are made up of two sentences that are concise and still contain all of the relevant information. The key is to try to anticipate what the reader will need to connect the image to the story and fill in the blanks. The first sentence should state who is in the photograph and what’s going on within  the photo in present tense. It should also state the city and state or country where the image was made while still following all of the AP style guidelines. Here you will also state the date the photo was made including the day of the week if the photo was made within the past two weeks. The second sentence of the caption is in past tense and adds context to the news or describes why the photo is significant and includes any other significant observations you made on scene as a photographer. It is also important to note that when identifying people in a caption you always go left to right in your notebook making sure to get the correct spelling of their names, you also identify left to right when you publish the photo. Some of the most common captions that are used are a single name for a headshot, a basic descriptive caption that highlights the five W’s, and an extended caption which is a more detailed caption commonly used for standalone photos that run without stories.

First Amendment as a Collegiate Photojournalist

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first amendment grants us our most important rights. It’s these rights that empower the people of this country to take ownership of our thoughts and our words, and enables us to share them with others without consequence. Freedom of press may be the most important right of all, it allows journalists to be the watch dogs for the people and shine light on the ills/corruption that may be occurring without the worry of persecution. Journalism acts as a the eyes and ears of the people, and it is after all the people who have the power in this nation. The people rely on journalists to keep them up to date on what’s going on, and without the rights established in the first amendment journalists would not be able to do that. As a collegiate photojournalism student, the first amendment makes it possible for me to do as I please without harassment from any branch of the government, as my instructor Lori King would say it allows me to “Keep it real”.
The three foundations of ethical decision-making are the utilitarian view, the absolutist view, and the golden rule view. The utilitarian view states that if it does more good than harm that the picture should published, for example if publishing the picture will save lives by informing people of a dangerous situation then it is okay to publish it even if it invades someone’s privacy. The absolutist view maintains that there are certain principles that are fixed and cannot be broken under any circumstances, which would ignore the utilitarian perspective that certains things are okay if they do more good than harm. The golden rule view is based on the principle of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This rule means that you would use your best judgement as a person not a journalist to determine if publishing a picture is okay. I think as photojournalists we have to take the utilitarian view, this excludes special circumstances of course, but if a picture of a horrible accident saves other lives because they are aware that they should be more careful then that benefit of lives should always outweigh someone’s privacy.

10 Pictures that Show Basic Photography Techniques

This gallery includes pictures that explore how depth of field, motion and exposure are used in photography.