Posted by: David Vernon | February 27, 2009

Vision and Telling Stories

The Tree 51Matt Eich, who’s a photojournalist from Ohio, won the 2008 Student Photographer of the Year contest – which was awarded last night in New York. These are college-based news photographers who shoot a broad range of news. Watching the judges comments however, I was reminded of just how many truisms rang out about portfolio reviews – something we’ll be trying here in Central Illinois in a few months. Two things were very consistent – you have to tell a story and you have to have a vision.

From Sabine Meyer, National Geographic Adventure

“… it was clear that some people were on their way to being serious professionals and some people were quite student or amateur – and their portfolios were all over the place and there was no vision. The two portfolios that rose to the top had clear consistency of vision and personal style.”

“You have to have a story. You have to have a focus – and as narrowly focused a story as possible becuase otherwise you’re going to flail about. The same thing if you do a story in your backyard. You have to have a story you’re chasing.”

From freelance photojournalist Ami Vitale

“I saw a lot of porfolios where people where just going abroad to lots of foreign countries, and it doesn’t make it stronger just to be in a foreign country. In the Eich portfolio there was a lot of work in his own backyard which was just great.”

“He has empathy for his subjects and a real strong point-of-view.”

And from Photo District News‘ Darren Ching:

“In terms of his work, there’s a real sense that he understood the subjects that he was shooting. It was not like he just went there to shoot and be a voyeur. He really tried to understand what they were about. The way he crafted his visions was really fantastic. He understood the composition and he understood the light. He understood how to use it in the context of the story he wanted to tell.”

“He has a real knack for understanding less is more.”

Check out the judges comments with lots of interspaced images from Eich. Powerful stuff – for a guy who’s turning 23 this year.

And keep in mind some of these comments when it comes time to pull your portfolio together… tell a story and have a vision.

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