At twenty, photojournalist Matt Eich has maturity dropped in his lap: his world-class career takes off, just as his girlfriend becomes pregnant. Together they document their budding lives, as they grapple with some very grown-up choices. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/publication/love-in-the-first-person
While other majors study their books and memorize facts, I've truly learned that you shape yourself into a better journalist by experiencing life. Every experience in life creates more depth to our ability to connect to people and tell stories.
While most of our learning experiences as students happen while we are out in the field working on class assignments, one way we can become a better journalist sitting at home is by watching and reading the work of other journalists. This way we can figure out what works and what doesn't. We can see different story-telling techniques that we might want to emulate in our own reporting some day.
I love in-depth multimedia pieces, so I decided to watch "Love in First Person."There were a lot of things I thought were really powerful about how they told their story, but I also found spots where I would have told the story differently.
Personal- The story was extremely personal, which is what allowed them to really make it an in-depth piece. They were telling the story about themselves, so they were able to capture those raw, emotional moments. Also, since they are both so comfortable with each other, the camera wasn't intrusive. They were really able to capture the raw emotion of the journey they were going through.
They were also able to include personal videos from the wedding, which I think added a nice dynamic to the piece. There weren't any major holes in their story telling, since they have access to all their home videos and personal moments. They also included some of his girlfriend's voicemails to him as part of the audio. This really gives us an insight to their relationship, and what they are going through together. The raw emotion really gave the story an impact on the viewer.
Extended period of time- Since they were following their own lives, they were able to take as much time as they needed to tell the story. You can tell they at least followed the story for a year, since it went from the beginning of her pregnancy to the birth of their baby.
The power of silence- At the beginning especially and continuing throughout the piece, there are a lot of moments of silence and just fading to black. I think this adds to the emotional impact of the piece. The pauses and fades to black give the viewer a chance to think about what they just heard and almost put themselves in their shoes. Sometimes saying or showing nothing at all is the best way to make a statement.
Music- Although music can be a powerful storytelling tool, I thought it took away from the story in this case. If you are going to use music, I think it should be something that the viewer doesn't even notice. For this piece, the music was extremely noticeable and almost distracting at some parts. There were abrupt changes in the music that drastically switched the mood of the piece too suddenly. One part towards the end, they used the beat of the music to change the photos on the screen, which I thought was a good a use of music. It made the pictures have a role in moving the piece forward and telling the story.
Quality- A lot of the video portions weren't the best quality. The lighting could have been better, just to make it look more professional rather than something two 20-year-olds threw together for fun. A lot of the time the resources aren't available, but it would have added more to the piece.
Abrupt- Not only was the music very abrupt, but I thought the ending was extremely rushed. They did a great job of developing the story and really letting the viewer into their life. Then they just randomly threw in the birth of their child at the end of the story. If they were going to use the birth of their child as the ending, I would have liked to see something more in depth to really give the viewer a sense of completeness that the piece was over. I was left feeling like there should be another clip to keep watching, since the story wasn't fully summed up.
Overall, this was a great example of raw, emotional story telling, and I will definitely consider using some of their techniques in my own work.