THE ORACLE: A Photographer’s View (from 1996)

Fall 1996

I have enjoyed my experience as a staff photographer for Oral Roberts University’s The Oracle.  This semester provided an opportunity for me to gain experience in diverse photojournalism techniques and situations from close-up shots at dinner to impersonal parking lots.  My time spent as a staff photographer has been well spent.  When I joined the staff, my purpose was to gain a reason to be continually involved in photography and learn any new photojournalism techniques that would present themselves over the semester.

Toward the end of this semester, I was asked to go to The Oracle offices on Monday mornings and read over the headlines.  This may be a small job, but I am now able to take a part in making The Oracle just a little better.  Besides, I am gaining experience that will assist me later if I turn in a job application to my hometown newspaper over the summer.  I had previously written and taken pictures freelance for The Fort Scott Tribune, but now I have a semester of experience which I can put in my resume`.

Just as suspected, I was placed in some situations that I have rarely seen as a photographer.  Sports is a subject which I have shied away from due to my lack of experience in the photographing thereof.  This semester I had the opportunity to attend and photograph several games.  Through these experiences I developed a joy for being down on the floor of a stadium and getting ready for the perfect moment to release the shutter.  This also helped me learn how press pass requirements work and how to deal with members of the sports information staff.

I enjoy the freedom which Chris Miyata, my editor, provides by letting me shoot with my own style and flair.  An example is my photograph for the October 28, 1996 issue, this photograph was of the PGA tournament parking on campus.  There is not a whole lot one can find to be interesting about several hundred cars parked across campus.  I tried to think of a point of view that would look interesting to someone who had just picked up a newspaper.  I thought that having the Praying Hands in the background would be a good way to show perspective and relationship between ORU and the vehicles.  This photograph made front page.  Another picture that I was able to show my own style was of the bagworms in the September 23, 1996 issue.  The trees showed how the pests had overtaken our campus, but I wanted to show a closer view.  Since the worms had clusters in piles near the EMR dormitory, I took a close-up shot of the worms that became a prime illustration for news writer Iain Little’s article.

I was assigned several photo shoots for the Rave section that involved going to different restaurants.  When I arrived at one particular restaurant, I was surprised at the difficult lighting situation and poor subject selection.  I shot several frames on the interior of the restaurant and then received permission to take pictures in the kitchen where the cooks were in the process of preparing pizza for their customers.  My editor used one of the interior shots, but through this and other experiences, I have learned how working for a newspaper can open otherwise closed doors.

I enjoyed my experience on The Oracle staff, although I was disappointed to see how much a part “politics” plays in what is actually published in the newspaper.  I heard comments during our weekly meeting saying that we should make sure to get an article about such and such just because [a certain offical] was there.  I understand that there will be checks and balances that will keep things out which even I think should not be allowed in the paper, but writing slanted articles just to keep someone happy seems wrong to me.

This semester as a whole has been a great beginning for me, I have had some difficulties but the joys have far outweighed the struggles.  One of my joys was making photographs for The Oracle.  Because of the versatile nature of this workshop/class I was able to incorporate it into my class schedule both this semester and next.  This workshop has given me a brief overview of how a newspaper is run and I have seen a tiny part of the enormous amounts of time that the editors spend to make a great paper.  I plan to use my experience with The Oracle staff this semester to help provide a basis for a possible future in journalism.


Fall 1996