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Starting with pictures

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maxed-outThe St. Petersburg Times’ latest narrative project started with photographer John Pendygraft’s wife giving him an assignment.  A medical reporter, she had been covering the policy issues of the health care debates, but rarely got more into her pieces than a quote from those struggling with healthcare issues.  After meeting a woman who was going through insulin shock every other day because she couldn’t afford her medicine, he says she put a request “on the honey-do list.”

At first his intention was just to shoot pictures and include brief text himself. But then he mentioned the idea to reporter Lane DeGregory, who got interested in writing stories to accompany his images. Now, a still image will accopmany each story in the newspaper, and the short videos will post (along with the print stories) online.

The black and white videos show tight shots of people discussing their situations, with a few images from the subjects’ homes for context. Pendygraft says he wanted to strip the stories down: “In a lot of ways it’s not the most rewarding in terms of visual narrative. But there’s a lot of raw emotion in a very simple idea. People who don’t know you could max out your insurance should be able to look into the eyes of someone who has and realize it might be them.”

Two of the three videos are up today on the homepage for the project, with one of three print stories that will run in the coming days.




One comment

  1. David
    posted September 29, 2009 at 4:01 pm | permalink

    Print writers will have to learn the TV mantra of “writing to the picture” to get this working well. A learning curve cost.

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