Written by Caitlyn Epes, class of 2020
LEADERSHIP: Congrats! You’re in charge now. That means every single question that could ever involve photos or media is now your problem, so strap in.
- The biggest part of this job is confidence. You were chosen for this based on your skill, experience and potential, so don’t ever underestimate that. But, you must know when to lean in to questions and ask yourself if there are better ways of doing things.
- Take what you have earned. The visual editor has earned the number one choice of all assignments and photo credentials, and that is both motivation and reason for newer photographers who may ask to shoot football.
- Don’t give credentials to people who haven’t earned them. Let new ones shoot high stakes or important events if you trust their skill level, but not everyone deserves to cover things just because they want to. Know their abilities, but also know their motives. You want the most dedicated people out there.
- Be a mentor, teammate and friend all in one. You are the leader of the visual desk and a representative voice for all visuals at the OU Daily, so your actions matter. Lead with confidence and honesty. Be transparent about hiring decisions or credential assignments so that they learn from disappointment and are urged to do better. Since you work alongside them, utilize both of your skills on assignments and know who should go where. Finally, be there for them. You’re all students, you all have lives outside of this. Make sure you keep that in mind and let them know you do.
ORGANIZATION: Please, please. Stay. Organized. Be better than me. This document is full of tips that it may seem like I had followed but I do be getting scatterbrained.
- Keep a list of all weekly assignments. Write it down. The photo request doc is great, but when you look at that every day for hours on end, things blur together.
- Keep the camera closet nice and tidy or you will not know where things are.
- We say this all the time and it never happens, but USE THE SIGN OUT SHEET. Cameras need to be accounted for at all times, and it’s on you to know their location.
- Set slack reminders to respond to all the random ass messages you get every single day. You will forget and it will be embarrassing.
- Write down all the god forsaken meetings you’ll have that somehow involve you or else you’ll leave your mac and cheese in the microwave because of a random meeting you forgot about.
- Check in with your photographers every week so that you can remind yourself what they’re working on and see if they’re still enjoying themselves. This can avoid burnout and make them feel more comfortable with The Daily!
- Use Seth as your fake therapist. You have a random thought like “what if this could be better?” or “how do I get this done?” or “I could technically go in a plane right?” Walk right into his office, sit in that chair, and start talking. If you talk long enough you’ll have solved your own problem. He’s a genius, that man.
- PROVIDED PHOTOS:
- If any photo request is unable to be completed by sending a photographer to take our own image, provided photos are acceptable.
- Visual editors should check the photo request document and alert the reporter that provided photos are needed from the source, if possible.
- Credit of provided photos is “Photo provided by Name” in the byline
- Credit of a provided photo taken by a photographer or company is “Photo by Photographer Name provided by Source Name”
- INTERNET PHOTOS:
- If a photo has to be taken from the internet, always use the Google search usage rights tool and select “labeled for reuse”
- Wikimedia Commons is usually a good source for this
- If nothing shows up that is usable, sometimes we can take from other publications or sources
- YouTube credit is “Screenshot via YouTube”
- OU headshot credit is “via ou.edu”
- Other website credit is “via website.com” or “Screenshot via website.com”
ALLOWING USAGE OF OUDAILY PHOTOS
- Sometimes you will get emails or requests about using an OU Daily image -Usually, our policy for things like newsletters, campus organizations, OU-related events or magazines is to just send over the original file and note that credit of the OU Daily is required for use.
- If a large organization or outside inquiry comes through, like a TV station or a professional sports team site, you can send over the file but make clear that credit goes to “Photographer Name/The OU Daily”
- If someone inquires about paying for use of our photos, you ask Seth and Nick Jungman before you take any of the above steps.
- The Google form is filled out by reporters and editors who have any visual request for their stories.
- It is up to the visual editor and assistant visual editor to go through the photo requests each day and assign photographers to the requests or to pass along a request to the design desk.
- Photographers should be checking the populated Google sheet every day for their assignments and alerting the visual editors if there are communication issues or conflicts.
- The bot that pings in the #photo-requests channel may need to be reset eventually, so ask Seth about that if it seems like they aren’t populating correctly
BACKEND HACKS: It is the responsibility of the visual editors to make sure that every photo ends up on the backend site for publishing. You should be checking periodically if the server and the backend match up.
- When making a gallery, create a new collection asset and batch upload into there directly. This will add the photos both into your collection and individually on the backend, so it is easier than uploading and then picking photos.
- When making a gallery of assets already on the backend, i.e. from previous events, click add>find assets instead of batch upload.***TREY
- When making a gallery by picking photos, you can only select one page at a time, so remember that before you try to select multiple search pages.
- To tag galleries, always have Gallery, Mobile, Multimedia, and
To specify your tags, also click Gallery>News/Sports,
Multimedia>Photos>News/Sports and any other tags that apply like News, Sports or Culture.
Tags make the asset show up on the page, so they’re really important. No gallery left untagged.
- For vertical photos, go into the asset and select Preview.
- Set the crop horizontally so that the main part of the image will show up. -This applies to vertical and square photos that may have an awkward crop.
- There are different ways of displaying a photo on the site. In articles, add the image assets under related like usual, and then drag them into where you want them in the article. Double click on the image and it will show you the options.
- Sometimes you will have to contact a source to set up a time to send a photographer for a story
- This usually comes up when a photo request comes in and the reporter does a phone interview or forgets to bring a photographer (bad)
- The visual editor’s job at that point is to get the contact information from the reporter and send an email/text or call the source to set up a time to meet.
- Remember that, while you have a deadline, you are on the source’s timeline. In your contact with them, mention that you are the visual editor at the OU Daily working on Reporter Name’s story and would like to set up a time to take a photo of them. “Is there a time this week you are available?” works pretty well.
- If you suspect that they won’t be available, you can always ask for provided photos.
- Sometimes you have to reach out to higher up’s to get photo access or information on policy.
- Always introduce yourself as the visual editor of the OU Daily. It holds more power than you think.
- Ask if there is a time that they are available and mention that you can meet them anywhere, but it will most likely be their office.
- For important stories and sources, the visual editor should be the one taking the photos because they are the one that is expected to have the most professionalism. If the visual editor is unavailable at any time to take it, work down the ranks and find the next best thing.
- To find contact info for sources, try Google first and then the editors or reporters. Sometimes, even Seth knows.
- While most of the credentials for seasons and culture events go through the sports and culture editors, the visual editor is responsible for getting credentials on a game-by-game basis for most events. They are also responsible for getting credentials for things that those desks may not be covering, but a visual-only coverage would work.
- For sporting events, the SID list is your best friend. Contact the respective SID and ask for a credential.
- Make sure to do this in the beginning of the season because some sports have seasonal credentials and some have game-by-game. In your first email, just ask how they do it.
- Sometimes the desk editors don’t think about visual credentials, so make sure you’re keeping up with any event that could possibly have a credential and ask about those way in advance.
- When in doubt, wear your OU Daily one if it’s on campus.
- The big beast
- Preparation is key. The game is unpredictable, so you want to control anything you can. Create gallery assets beforehand. Create cutline shortcuts (code replacement for photo mechanic). Know your route and where you need to be for certain times in the game.
- For halftime gallery, leave with about 8 minutes left in the half. Once you get good at editing and publishing fast, you can get away with about 6 minutes. The gallery should be posted before the third quarter starts so people can actually look at it.
- Pregame photos are okay for the halftime gallery, but once you get to post game, remove the boring ones and replace them with game shots. There’s only so much room in people’s timeline for Spencer Rattler standing still. Awesome pregame portraits can stay, but put them at the bottom with the rest of the first half.
- Know the big players to get every game, but ask the reporters for the players that may change game-by-game. Also get to know the big coaches and anyone they need for features.
- KEEP SLACK OPEN. You need to be able to communicate with your photographers and the reporters throughout the game, so check your phone periodically.
- Use your judgment and the advice of the reporters/Seth for celebrity galleries pregame. Sometimes big name people show up and sometimes it’s just a former player who shows up every time. Publish pregame galleries before they run out onto the field.
- Take stock photos every game. But do NOT publish them every time. Serve your audience for the specific game, they don’t care about something they see every game. You know you’ll need one of the head coach, defensive coordinator, starting quarterback, running backs and defense. But say the defense didn’t do anything special and the running back made the winning catch. Your gallery should focus on the receivers and have less stock of the defense. Use your judgment and learn game-by-game.
- Talk to your fellow photographers on the sidelines. Introduce yourself, say who you’re with, and if they’re prominent, ask if they’ll critique your work. They’ll probably say yes, especially if you say you know me ;). Learn from them and notice how they do their job since they’ve been there a lot longer than you.
- If no one has told you this yet, you’re going to have to go to unfamiliar places completely alone and have no idea what to do. Luckily for you, I did it first.
- The biggest advice I have for this section is ASK. QUESTIONS. Don’t try to figure out where the media room is on your own, don’t walk around in circles because you already asked one security guard and it’s embarrassing to ask again and don’t assume anything. Wherever you think your destination is, you’re wrong.
- For non-sports events, keep your confidence and make it look like you are a photographer who belongs there. Nine times out of ten, someone will be like “Are you looking for media check-in?” and you’ll be like omg yeah!!!
- I haven’t been to West Point, but here are the media room tips that I recall from other football games you’ll go to this season:
- Cotton Bowl (Texas): Credentials will be given to you beforehand. The good part about this venue is that there is one entrance, but the bad part is you have to park far away and lug your gear through the State Fair of Texas. Take a look at the parking map they give you and you’ll be able to easily navigate it but GET THERE EARLY as the media room is super tiny. It’s in the tunnel on the left side, and your vest check-in is across the tunnel. Also, the food is usually a box lunch so that’s a plus, but bring more water cus they run out sometimes. ALSO also, go to the fair if you can. Best times of my life.
- Iowa State: This shit sucks. I won’t lie. Unless they’ve changed it in two years, this is the second worst media situation for photo (I’ll get to number one later). You’ll check in with the reporters, but the photo room is in the building at the end zone. You’ll go through the doors and up the staircase, and at the very back of the room on the left is like two tables for everyone. This corner is in the middle of the giant donor suite they built so it was definitely an afterthought, but at least it has air conditioning! The press box does not. Make sure you eat beforehand because they don’t have food for you there. You can snag a water if you’re sneaky.
- TCU: Media room is not really a room here. It’s a marked off section of tables inside one of the tunnels where they also do the post game press conference, so make sure you mark your space early and keep your laptop charged for post game. No food, but water available in coolers. Not a bad setup if you get there in time.
- West Virginia: This one also sucks major ass. It’s literally in a basement down like two flights of stairs. If it’s cold outside, it’s a furnace down there. Get there early because there’s not much space. The only way down to the field that I remember is from the stands so save your arm day workout for this. Also parking is like a mile away and they have a shuttle.
- Texas Tech: This is my number one worst media situation for the single reason that it is IN THE PRESS BOX. Meaning you have to go up the elevator and a long hallway before you even get to the tiny room you need to be in. Everything here will need to be like 5 minutes earlier because they shut down the elevator at halftime and post game, so make sure you get there before they do that. A bonus here is that they have food pregame so take advantage of that. Oh also they throw tortillas on the field here so watch out.
- Kansas: I got struck by lightning here so if there’s a severe weather delay, don’t go stand on the field. Technically there is no media room on field level here, but the press conference room has space for you to edit for pregame and halftime. Worm your way in there by asking Ty or other University photogs if you can squeeze in there for a bit. Otherwise, edit outside like I did and make sure your laptop is charged.
- Kansas State: This one is similar to, but better than, TCU. It’s in the tunnel that the team runs out of and it’s a bunch of tables set up with water coolers. Get there early, it’s cramped. If OU messes up and loses again, the student section rushes the field from opposite the press box so be ready. The parking situation here is bad so prepare to lug your equipment pretty far.
- Baylor: I like Baylor’s setup because it’s just very nice inside, but it is also extremely small. You’ll go into the same entrance as the reporters, but instead of taking the elevator up, you’ll turn left into the photo room. The tunnel at the end gets you to the field if you take a right then a left. It’s also conveniently near the player entrance for walk of champions. If you go out the door you came in with the reporters and turn right, you’ll see a “visitor player entrance” and that’s where they’ll be. You’re welcome.
- Oklahoma State: Same entrance as reporters, but instead of going up to the press box (you can for food), you go down onto field level through the stands and take a left through the tunnel into the photo room. It’s actually pretty roomy in there and they have gatorade and water. Watch out for the sidelines here though, don’t spend too much time in the room because the few spaces fill up fast. Pro tip: go inside the tunnel they walk out of to get some cool shots. Ask forgiveness, not permission with that.
- Big 12 Championship (AT&T Stadium): Get your credentials and parking pass right as they open, walk into the entrance they tell you and immediately ask where the photo room is. I’ve been in like three different entrances and each time it’s a different way. Once you get down to the lowest level, there should be signs pointing you where to go because it’s just a big circle. This room is huge with food for breakfast and lunch (usually it’s 11 a.m. so you have breakfast and then halftime stuff). Your vest will also be in this room. Walk out of the photo room, turn left, then turn left again out of the tunnel and there’s the field. If OU is winning by a lot, run in and leave your big lens in the room so you’re prepared to run all over the place with your wide angle. Don’t focus on just the trophy presentation, get players hugging and celebrating and look for those special moments.
- Rose Bowl: This will just be what I can remember so if I’m wrong my bad. Parking is far away, you get your credential at the tent to the left of the big Rose Bowl entrance, then you enter through a big media tunnel. The tunnel you need is the one right under and to the left of the Rose Bowl sign. You’ll go down there, take a right, and the photo room will be right there. They have hella food at bowl games so take advantage. Also, take pics in front of the Rose Bowl sign before the game. Those are keepers. Make sure you go up the stands to the very top at some point to get those gorgeous mountains at sunset. There’s easy access if you go onto the field out of the tunnel and turn left into the stands.
- Orange Bowl: MIAMI BABY!! I honestly can’t remember which entrance you go in for this one, but there’s a media shuttle that takes you pretty close to where you need to be. The media room is where you get your vest and food, so it’s easy to navigate everything. The sidelines here are rough in the end zones so you’ll have to stay on the sideline.
- Peach Bowl: This one is VERY similar to AT&T Stadium. It’s a giant circle so you can’t really get lost, and the room is huge and has a buffet of food (it’s Chick fil A so hell yeah). Once you get onto the field there’s only one way to get back to the photo room directly so you’ll be able to easily remember.
- When you go to a different venue, gauge whether it’s worth a gallery or not. Playoff games, Big 12 Championship and College GameDay will all be times you can do a “Rose Bowl before Sooners take on Georgia for College Football Playoff” gallery. If you ever have questions on whether to do one or how to title it, just search on the website for the previous time or ask Seth since he will probably do it for you anyway.
- Always bring your own waters and snacks. The fanny pack life really does come in handy when you don’t find time to eat the media meal.
- Take time to notice if the game is going to go a certain way and if you have time to drop your big lens off in the media room. If you don’t have time, just keep it in your left hand and hope for the best.
- At OU home games, switch end zones by walking behind the visiting team. It’s 100 times easier and faster.
- The only other venue that has a photo room to use is the Lloyd Noble Center. For women’s gymnastics and men’s/women’s basketball, go through the tunnel on the South end, go through security, and walk until you see a small staircase on the left. Walk up the stairs and the photo room is the first door on the left. Get there early and get some food!
- Softball and baseball don’t have photo rooms, so prepare to either edit from your car or the newsroom, and give yourself time. Don’t stay the whole game unless you see it getting intense.
- If you want to get on the catwalk for Lloyd Noble, ask the SID for that sport.
- This section is the mini “how to be a photojournalist” lesson. Use these tips in your own work as well as when you are helping younger photographers become photojournalists.
- Your work at the OU Daily is to inform and showcase events, people and stories while educating the public with photos. The photojournalism mindset needs to be in mind during every assignment. You may not be a writer, but you’re still a journalist. A good source of information on why we follow certain rules can be found here: https://nppa.org/code-ethics
- When you are at an event with a crowd component, don’t just stand on the outskirts and photograph signage. Get to the root of what they are doing and why they are there. If it’s a set-up event, go all over the room and capture the feel of the situation. Your audience is not in that room, so your job is to make photos that show them what it looks like and feels like.
- Don’t stay in one place. Get different angles and vantage points. Even if you don’t publish a single photo from the other side of the room, you better make sure you get over there to try.
- For OU events, Travis Caperton is the one to look out for. He’s the official OU photographer so anywhere he goes, you should try to follow for the good shots.
- For student-centric events (walkout, sit-in, protest), be human first. You’re a student too, so if you feel compelled to participate, put the camera away and let someone else shoot. You’re allowed to support the event while photographing it too. But, make sure you are photographing it without any bias or framing that might change the meaning.
- Safety is the number one priority for events. Always know your way out. If you get trapped somewhere in a crowd, stop shooting and head to the exit. Just always make sure you are able to get out quickly if things go awry. You can’t photograph anything if you’re not safe!
- Being visual editor means you need to teach your desk the ins and outs of photojournalism and photo editing. This sounds like a big undertaking, but most of your job will be teaching by example.
- You can’t teach if you don’t know things yourself. Make sure that you are confident and comfortable with your own work before you critique or advise someone else.
- Acknowledge your style and workflows when teaching others. You have a different way of editing than anyone else, so just make sure you aren’t just trying to force your way onto the desk.
- Keep learning from others around you and professionals so you can pass that knowledge along to your desk. It’s easy to get comfortable in a certain style or workflow, so make sure you’re not just being stagnant because you know how to do it.
MAKING EDIT DECISIONS:
- Like I said at the beginning, you are in charge of every visual decision as the editor of the desk. This comes with some pressures, but your confidence will lead you through it.
- Following the guidelines you set for yourself and the feel of the desk will help you through edit decisions. Knowing the mood of a certain gallery will allow you to pick and choose what photos make it or not.
- After you create a gallery, scroll through it once before publishing. Are there multiple photos of the same unimportant person? Are there similar photos that the average person wouldn’t see the difference between? Is the most important photo at the end? Are there photos that don’t really tell a story? These are all questions you should be asking during the editing process and thinking about while creating the gallery.
- You need to train yourself to narrow down your own photos before you feel confident making decisions for others. When a photographer asks you to choose between some photos, make your decision based on the meaning, photo principles and personal style of the photographer. Make sure you tell them why you chose the photo you did so they can learn!
- When a story comes in with no visual ideas, think through all the possibilities and the pros and cons of each of them. You’re the one everyone will look to for photo ideas, so get all the information you can from the reporter and editors.
- There’s precedent for a lot of the things you’ll have to deal with. Don’t hesitate to ask Seth, research on the website or reach out to me if you have questions!
- Photo illustrations, graphics and data visualizations are all things to collaborate with the design desk.
- My advice would be to use the photo request document for all visual requests, and then once you get one that will need a graphic, give all the info to the design desk and talk through the product. You’ll still have a say on if it works or not.
- You can try your hand at photo illustrations since you have access to the photos, but always consult the design desk in case they have better ideas
- Photo essays allow you to be creative with your photos, the stories you tell and the way the photos are presented online.
- Encourage your photographers to find stories that interest them that have a visual element. Most, if not all, stories are able to be told visually.
- It’s not just photos. Photo essays need information, quotes and context with meaning. Make sure each photo can stand alone and still have that power.
PUSHING CONTENT ON SOCIAL:
- Galleries on Twitter are pushed with 4 photos, but use the resized version so it doesn’t take forever to load. Tweetdeck also works better with the resized photos.
- Social chatter for Twitter is short and sweet. Say what happened and where, but only use words like “tonight” or “this morning.” No date necessary.
- Use the bit.ly link on Twitter to save characters, but on Facebook the link will go away once the preview shows up.
- Tag anyone you can on Twitter to get more engagement. Ex: “The @OU_Wgymnastics team beat UCLA tonight. Check out our best photos here: link”
- Use hashtags for sports anywhere you can. Ex: “The #Sooners beat Oklahoma State tonight in Stillwater. Here are the best photos of the game: link”
- Don’t put unnecessary information in the chatter. Read it out loud to yourself and see if it’s something you would actually click on. Too many words drives people away.
CONTACT: If you ever have any questions, I will be on Slack but you can reach me at my email or ask Seth for my phone number. HAVE FUN!