Tag Archives: storytelling

a week of multimedia

in the judging room

Over the past week, I had the opportunity to watch some amazing examples of visual storytelling today and listen to conversations from its leading practitioners, thanks to the World Press Photo multimedia judging. Now in its third year, I have seen the contest grow from the inaugural year to a refined look at what’s going on in the world of multimedia. In the last days, I watched about 50 of the 287 submitted productions, observing the process as the jury narrowed it down to the final selection and interviewing judges about the winners.

Here is the list of the winners, with two of my favorites embedded below. I can also highly recommend ‘Dreams on Freewheels’ coming out of China. And all the interactive productions are worth the time to explore.

Online Shorts
1st Into the Shadows
2nd Living with a Secret
3rd Aleppo Battleground

Online Features
1st Too Young to Wed
2nd Dying for Relief: Bitter Pills
3rd Dreams on Freewheels

Interactive Documentary
1st Alma: A Tale of Violence
2nd Bear 71
3rd Lost and Found
Honorable Mention UnknownSpring

And below, interviewing Samuel Bollendorff with my favorite cameraman.

interview with Samuel Bollendorff

A Taste of Hint Fiction

Inspired by the NPR broadcast ‘Hint Fiction Celebrates the (Extremely) Short Story’, my father challenged my family to a competition over the holidays. The genre hint fiction is defined by a story of 25 words or less, which stimulates the imagination through its brevity. Take Ernest Hemingway’s six-word story for example. “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” In the end, five of us participated, anonymously presented our stories, and voted on the favorites.

I imagined a scene taking place on the roads through the mountain pass between the Willamette Valley and the Cascade Mountain Range. Marcus’ story described his morning view on an Amsterdam weekday. My father wrote a mystical tale about time past. My mother wrote about her favorite summer activity, water skiing. My brother found inspiration in murder mystery tales. Below, the stories:

My story:
The mountain pass
She turned onto the all but abandoned logging road,
the entrance graced with a worn-down cross staked into the earth.
Her fingers drummed to the beat of the music, turned just a little louder.

Marcus’ winning story:
9:12 am
Dense fog covering the river makes it difficult to see over to the other side.
The start of the week.

My mother’s entry:
An Afternoon of Surface Tension
Strong breeze creates a tangled mane
Nostrils filled with sunshine
Cool mists in rhythmic sprays
Mechanical roar
That quiets the smiling soul.

My father’s entry:
Below lake waters,
Tossed long ago
Lay ring shining.
Fish fin by, sunlight reflects back
To her hand empty unhealed
It’s giver lay below earthen cover of European war.

My brother’s entry:
Christmas Cheer
Walks on the beach and candlelight dinners and the ad read, but the light kicking in her stomach made her body shake with rage as her fingers tightened around the pistol.

The Backstory

Several productions give a closer glimpse of the photographers who won World Press Photo awards this year and the stories behind their photos. Pietro Masturzo discusses his career in ‘Talking about Photography‘ and video interviews present a firsthand account from the photographers. Highlights include Charles Ommanney, Eugene Richards, Kent Klich, Gareth Copley, Olivier Laban-Mattei and Malick Sibidé.

Photo by Pietro Masturzo

The Story of the Image

While enjoying Abby’s photos from a trip to a nursery in Oregon, I was caught by this image of the window of a blue house, the tree with faint spots of red. Lovely.

I have been looking at a lot of photos lately at work, like thousands a day. I’ve noticed that when I look at photography I can never silence the writer inside me. I also want to hear a caption, to know the context and hear a story about the captured moment. I can be impressed by the aesthetics of the image, but I can connect with it only when I can connect with its story. For me, the image of plants and flowerpots at a rustic nursery on a sunny February day in Oregon reminds me of the subtle beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Home. And then I wonder how my mother’s landscaping project is progressing.

Picnic Day One


Too caught up in schmoozing to post anything yesterday, but I had the chance to enjoy several sessions. First off was ‘The Arab Social Web’, with the speakers Mohamed Najem, Co-founder of Social Media Exchange and Moeed Ahmad, Head of New Media at Al Jazeera, discussing how social media enable people in their region to circumvent censorship and other restricting factors.

The best session of the day was ‘Once Upon These Times: New Stories for New Audiences’ with Jeremy Ettinghausen, Digital Publisher at Penguin Books, and Matt Locke, Commissioning Editor at Channel 4 Education. They presented six stories about storytelling, using successful examples to drive home key points:

1. You Suck at Photoshop, key point: hide stories in unexpected places

2. Surrender Control, key point: give yourself ridiculous restraints

3. We Tell Stories, key point: experiment outside your comfort zones

4. I am Cherry Girl, key point: invent a character without a storyline

5. Yu-Gi-Oh!, key point: give fans stuff to play with

6. Smokescreen, key point: create stories you can binge on when you want

I had the chance to sit down with Jeremy after he spoke. What was supposed to be an interview turned into a lovely discussion about books and the industry, but I’ll hopefully have the chance to catch up with him, and other speakers in the coming days.

The Grand Microscope

Picture 14

A beautiful article in The Atlantic about a long-term research project at Harvard, explores the lives of 268 Harvard students over the course of 72 years.

“The study began in the spirit of laying lives out on a microscope slide. But it turned out that the lives were too big, too weird, too full of subtleties and contradictions to fit any easy conception of “successful living.” Arlie Bock had gone looking for binary conclusions—yeses and nos, dos and don’ts. But the enduring lessons would be paradoxical, not only on the substance of the men’s lives (the most inspiring triumphs were often studies in hardship) but also with respect to method: if it was to come to life, this cleaver-sharp science project would need the rounding influence of storytelling.”