I've been thinking of posting this for a while now, of things I've done/ wanted to do as a photojournalist, and things I ultimately will help me (as well as you) be a better and more educated photographer.
- Live Off Campus- you understand and have access to a place much more if you are actually living there. How convenient to have your subjects/ contacts as your neighbors?
- Go to Church or Volunteer- I have found 75% of my photo stories by asking people at my church- they are more involved in the community than I am and have lived in the area longer. Even if you don't normally go to church it would be a good idea to adopt one, or if you are uncomfortable with that, find an organization that you believe in to volunteer with. Who knows? The church or organization may make a good story in itself.
- Get at Least One Internship Before Your Junior Year- Time and time again I see juniors/ seniors who have good portfolios get rejected from good internships because they have no previous newspaper experience. If you get an unpaid internship at your local paper, you'll not only get amazing experience, but you'll have some street cred in the photojournalism world.
- Go On a Ride-Along With A Local Police Officer- I actually just did this yesterday, and it was relatively easy to set up, I just called the City's police department. It was a great experience too, you have a good opportunity to shoot breaking news because you'll be the first to arrive on scene, and see life from a police officer's perspective.
- Photograph Sports with Lights- It's hard the first time, but after that, everything looks awesome.
- Adopt a Neighborhood- (kind of similar to the live off campus)- now I haven't done this, but a lot of my friends have, and this is a great exercise to get contacts and to simply be in a community for an extended period of time.
- Keep a List of Possible Shoots/ Photographing Possibilities - I started a list like this the summer after my second year at RIT, and am amazed how easy it made shooting features/ shooting for myself. I would find ideas for shoots online, or by asking people I knew if they knew any interesting things going on. Sometimes, I'd miss a yearly event by a week or a month, and write it on the list to come back to it later.
-Shoot at Least Twice A Week Regardless of if you Have Assignments- This is pretty self-explanatory, not enough people photograph for themselves, and no one photographs as much as they should. Set a weekly quota to keep yourself accountable.
-Photograph Things that are Outside Your Comfort Zone- Because you'll be doing that all the time at a newspaper or as a freelancer. And, you'll have a way more diverse portfolio, and you'll most likely learn things along the way.
- Photograph for a Whole Day With Your Least-Used Lens- James Patterson, one of the photographers at the Valley News, gave me this challenge while looking for a standalone on a quiet day at the newspaper this fall. I never use a 200mm lens, so I grabbed mine and went to find an assignment that would lend itself to a 200mm lens. I went to the nearby aquatic center and photographed a man who swims miles every day at the pool, and shot it all with the long lens. It taught me to see differently, and it certainly got me out of my 24mm lens shooting rut.
There are definitely more that I'm not thinking of right now, so once these come to mind, I may post a part two.