Lecture Notes, Matt Ford (20/11/13)


Matt Ford’s journey toward photography began with film. Ford started out in filmmaking and went to Film School. Ford left Film School to work in Hollywood for several years as a lighting technician. He studied cinematography than went back to finish his degree. Ford studied broadcast journalism. Many of his film critics transferred into it also. Ford fell in love with journalism. Unlike film, you can work in a smaller team and tell real documentary type stories. Ford than went to grad school in North Western and studied broadcast journalism again. Ford focused on the web and how story telling was happening in the web and the emerging digital world, as well as how multimedia played a part in all that. After grad school Ford joined A.P, covered the election than was transferred to Cairo at the time of the revolution. Ford was in Cairo for two years before starting Vignette Interactive.

A.P, Associated Press is one of the largest news organizations collecting and sharing information from the news wire. What is a news wire? Basically all the news that we read, see and hear, in the papers, on television, online is actually produced by news organizations. They use a lot of footage, text copy and photography from wire services. It’s a large group of journalists that provide content to other news organizations. The news organizations subscribe to use the content. This is a good solution to spot news when you can’t have the news correspondent in every aspect all over the world.

Ford was apart of the multimedia team during the time of the elections then an active producer for the Middle East region in Cairo, working on long interactive projects. Wire photographers are more spot news, responding to the day’s events, occasionally trying to focus on daily life. Ford wanted something deeper. When working with photographers Ford wanted to encourage them to look deeper, focus on contextual stories, stuff that goes beyond the breaking news and helps explain the lives of the people experiencing these tremendous moments in history. For example, in the Iraqi elections, Ford spoke with the people. He wanted to move away from the sheer images of the violence that people were so accustomed to seeing at that time. Ford tried to get a sense of the people, those who were trying to rebuild their lives in a transitional democracy.

What’s Vignette Interactive? As the digital world evolves, all content delivery and consumption has become digitally based. The real opportunity for advancing story-telling methods is the marriage between content creation, story telling and the power of web development whether it’s on your computer or other devices. We have to be aware of the technology of today and how people will consume your story. Delivery and interactive aspects are vital to Vignette.  It’s no longer a passive experience. An idea will resonate with one person more so than another. When it does resonate we must ask, how can we get deeper? How can this person further inform themselves? This is where the interactive element comes in. It’s a way to enable these things to happen and Ford wants to encourage it.

“It’s difficult to be a content creator, photographer, writer, videographer but the story isn’t over.” There are places where people can make money. They key is that everyone will have to diversify, the whole market will have to diversify. Ford had stated before that there would only be 3 people he would rely on who could cover all these aspects: visual, sound, content and so on. Ford quickly learnt that it’s difficult to do everything all at once well. It’s a challenge to deliver good work continuously alone. It’s better to work with others, in a team. Once you choose your format you can build a team with the right skills. You need to have your core of specialists. “Don’t be a lone wolf”. It’s not a good business model.

Transitioning from still images to moving is totally organic. Data visualisation. “Photos can be data”. Knowing its impact is important. Influences? News related multi media, the Guardian, media storm and duck rabbit.

Advice? 50% of the work should be close ups, creates a sense of intrigue and mystery. Develop a story and protagonist, created a sense of purpose, tension and conflict. Make all of this relate to the character. Does he win or lose? Try creating your piece without music, instead get sounds to create a sense of place, allowing you to linger. Once this has been established than consider music. To exercise your story telling try no sound.

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