When I'm working on a multimedia piece I always struggle to know when to shoot stills and when to shoot video. For me it always has been difficult to juggle between the two. When I first saw Burn Camp, I was amazed at how well Dot Paul mixed stills with video to tell a compelling story. I caught up with her at the Utah Symposium and asked if she would be willing to share the story behind her award winning piece. Check out the video first and then read her comments below:

The Burn Camp story idea formed during a very slow time in December; I started looking for a project to work on during the coming summer. I wanted to enterprise a project that would challenge and push me creatively.

So I researched and looked through all the school and college websites for something visually interesting that I could immerse myself into.  I found the Burn Camp Service-Learning course on the School of Social Work’s website.  A colleague had covered it in an afternoon nearly a decade prior, but I wanted to revisit the camp and see if I could attend the whole week and make a documentary picture story from the students’ experiences there.  When I pitched my idea to the faculty of the camp, I had no clear outlet in mind for publication.

I had shot a few multimedia pieces that included video clips with our pool 5d Mark II, but a month before camp I was issued an EOS 1D Mark IV of my own, and then received training and certification in Final Cut Pro.  I decided Burn Camp would be an ideal place to try to combine the two worlds of video and stills and to use my new FCP skills.  I had seven days to shoot and ample material to work with so I figured it would be a good learning experience with repeat opportunities.  I showed up at camp with that Mark IV (24-105mm lens) on one shoulder and an EOS 1D Mark III (with a 70-200mm lens) on the other.  In my bag was an Audio-Technica shotgun mic (with an xlr to miniphone cord that plugged directly into the camera).

It was actually really instinctive for me to be able to switch back and forth between shooting video and shooting stills.  I think having a second body that was a dedicated still camera really helped me separate the two.  I guess the best way to put it is that when I shoot video, I’m always looking for “action” but when I shoot stills I’m constantly looking for “moments.”  I feel that shooting video does not take away from the importance and impact of still photography, but merely enhances those still images.

The hardest thing for me to get used to when shooting for a multimedia piece though is not shooting verticals—but as an instructor at the Mountain Workshops told me –“movie screens, televisions and computer monitors aren’t vertical!”

Around day three I knew I had something good going on with this piece, so I contacted our Alumni Magazine editor and the PR coordinator at the School of Social Work.  The editor made room in the next issue to run a small picture story with a link to the multimedia piece and the PR coordinator wrote a short story to accompany the photos.  The multimedia piece was featured on the UGA.edu home page at the beginning of fall semester and the School of Social Work embedded it into their website as well.  It has won a CASE District III Grand Award in the multimedia category and the photo essay I submitted from camp won a CASE District III Special Merit Award—not to mention the UPAA First Place Multimedia Award!

To me Burn Camp really represents all of the quintessential elements of a comprehensive and impactful multimedia project.  And although it was a little long (like this blog post!) for our standards now, (I’m a much better video editor now) I’m really proud of it and very lucky I have the time, opportunity, resources and support to continue to pursue and produce multimedia.

Dot Paul has been a University Photographer at the University of Georgia since 2003, and you can see more of her work at http://dotpaul.myweb.uga.edu/ or the department website at : http://www.photo.alumni.uga.edu/multimedia.html

To learn more about the Burn Camp, please visit  http://www.gfbf.org/what_we_do/burn_camp.html