About melissaklauda

I'm a junior at the University of Missouri in Columbia majoring in Photojournalism and International Studies. Originally I'm from Chanhassen, MN which is about 20 minutes west of the Twin Cities and I miss it! I love going to new places, trying new things, and being spontaneous.

Recently…

I’ve been terrible about blogging since I have been in Quincy. Go figure that I only have two more weeks of my internship left! Currently I’m working on an in-depth video about the Dark River Derby Coalition, the women’s roller derby team here, and am very excited to complete it. The women on the team are some of the coolest subjects I’ve had the opportunity to be around and I’m having an awesome time working on it. Here are a few things I’ve shot recently:

Image
Dressed as a lion, Chandler Schumacher, 6, laughs as candy is throw to him during the Culver-Stockton College homecoming parade on Saturday morning. (H-W Photo/Melissa Klauda)

Image
Kindergarteners Nathaniel King, left, and Troy Yohn, right, finish voting during a mock presidential election at Madison School. Mrs. Stroot’s second grade class hosted the election for all students, staff and parents to cast their vote for president. (H-W Photo/Melissa Klauda)

Image
John Caldwell prepares to shoot a basket at the Long Term Care Golden Games held at the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center. The event welcomed residents of care facilities and assisted living facilities in the area to play games, win prizes and enjoy a carnival-like atmosphere.(H-W Photo/Melissa Klauda)

Image
Children play outside of Barrian School during Special Persons Day. Each student was encouraged to bring someone special to them to school for various activities. (H-W Photo/Melissa Klauda)

30-Day Project Self-Critique

And just like that, it is all over. Four years of the most memorable experiences in photojournalism are finished, and I couldn’t have asked for a better time here at Mizzou. To finish up the year and Picture Story, I worked on an essay about products made in Missouri. Initially, I wanted to do an essay on how far our food travels. I realized that I would be very limited in the places I could visit in this time frame (for much of the food we consume comes from different states and countries), so I modified my ideas. Instead, I took the opposite approach to focus on what is made in Missouri and what doesn’t have to travel hundreds of miles to be on our plates or in our home. To do that, I contacted various farmers and artisans throughout the entire state to get a good variety of situations. I photographed a Green Hills Harvest dairy farm in Purdin, Mo., Bee Naturals soapmaking company in Clarksville, Mo., and Jeff Ferguson, a woodturner in Columbia, Mo. I had hopes to photograph more farmers and more situations (including a beekpeer in Columbia), but due to time and other constraints, they did not all happen. Because this is such an open ended project, I will continue to do this as I travel throughout the state and even the country. Eventually, I think I will be able to put together the initial essay I was hoping for. For this project though, I believe I was successful in what I was able to photograph. I found interesting people and situations and showed the process of the product, from origin to completion. I had a really great time traveling to each place, learning the craft or trade, and am happy with what I was able to accomplish. The one thing I think I would change as it evolves is the format of the magazine layout I chose. I am not very well-versed in design and could use some help utilizing the page and placement of images and text. Overall, though, I am very pleased with the final product of ‘Made in Missouri.’

Made in Missouri

For my 30-Day Capstone Project I created an essay about products made in Missouri by using the land and what it has to offer. Though it is not complete (I still need to photograph a beekeeper), what I produced below gives a glimpse into the many, many farmers and artisans that utilize the land of Missouri in their craft.

Cover Page for a magazine spread:

Image

Green Hills Harvest, Purdin, Mo.
Image

Jeff Ferguson, woodturner in Columbia, Mo.
Image

Bee Naturals, Clarksville, Mo.

The hole in this page is for an image of the bees that are the source of the beauty products. This image will come when I meet with Lone Cottonwood Farms in Columbia, Mo.

30 Day Project Sneak Peak

Here are a few selects from my 30-Day Project on products made in Missouri. I have visited a dairy farm in Purdin, Mo., a woodturner from Columbia, Mo. who makes bowls and vases out of Missouri trees, and a soapmaker in Clarksville, Mo, who makes beauty products using honey, propolis, and beeswax in all of her products. I hope to meet with a beekpeer in Columbia, Mo. soon to complete the project.

Image

Image

Image

Yates House

Video

The Yates House is a bed and breakfast located in the small town of Rocheport, MO. The innkeepers, Conrad and Dixie Yates, retired nurses, have run the inn in what used to be their home, for 19 years. The Yates’ are self-sufficient and pride themselves on how much of their business is in their control. With that, comes the workload. The couple rarely goes to social events together, vacations only on the off season, and does routine maintenance and work around the clock. They are always “on call” in their own home. It is something they enjoy doing and believe they are very good at, so they have made it their life.

The Yates House

Reading Reaction – Photographic Essays

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of the photo essay. There has been this urge to dig in and do one, but I have come up short on ideas in my current position (Columbia, Mo.) and through the readings for this post (The Picture Essay – Jay and Hurn, and The Great Photographic Essays – Chapnick), I have a better idea of what makes the essay and where to begin the process. Too often as a photographer, and I don’t I’m alone, I emphasize the importance of the single image. I’m not always shooting with story in mind but rather the composition of the one moment in the frame at the given time. Hurn and Jay address this idea in the beginning of their discussion as they transition to the notion of the essay, saying that “We tend to forget this fact, that photographers of merit tend to work on projects involving many pictures, not just on single masterpieces.” To even get started on an essay, they say that we must break it down into a few questions and ask ourselves, 1. Why am I doing this? 2. What interests me? 3. Where, and how, will it be used? In addition, it is important to plan. As we have learned, sometimes too much planning keeps us from seeing what is real or another story to pursue, but knowing what types of images are needed to complete the essay are essential in this case.

One thing I did sort of disagree on is that Hurn said “too many people waste time taking unusable photographs.” I understand that it is important to stay focused on what our story is, but sometime it is worthwhile to notice the beauty of something outside of our story. I think he meant don’t take useless pictures for the essay, but regardless, I will continue to make photos as I see them.

In the Chapnick reading he had some helpful things to say about constructing and completing the essay as well. It reminded me of the dialogue between Hurn and Jay when he said, “the success of a photographic essay depends on attention to detail. The photographer should have a structure in mind, written or unwritten, as the essay unfolds. All along the way, the photographer should have a mental or written checklist against which the photographs are being made, so that when the work is finished there are no unfilled gaps in the story.” It seems a checklist is one of the most important guiding tools in the essay. I don’t think I have ever made a list of photos or moments that I need when working on a story, but have had a mental idea. That’s not ideal because as I know too well, I often forget those ideas or am distracted by something else. As much as I would like to say don’t plan and just shoot, I think I could really benefit from a little planning, especially in the sense of the essay where certain shots are necessary. Another thing Chapnick said that really hit home was when he talked about the subject matter of an essay. “Great photographic essays do not need complex, bizarre, unusual subject matter. They need not be shot in exotic parts of the world. Almost every conceivable subject that deals with the human experience can serve as the basis for an essay.” This is something that I and probably a lot of others struggle with, especially in a town like Columbia, Mo. where there are journalists looking for a fresh story everywhere you go. It’s really easy to feel defeated and that there are “no good stories left in this town.” In this sense though, you just need to take a world, national, or state issue and break it down to how it affects your community (that being greater Boone County, too). I think this idea helps me to realize what good subject matter is, and how to find it, though it might not be easy.

POYi Reaction

Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch as much POYi judging this year as I would have hoped, but what I was able to see was rewarding. One of the categories I took the most out of was the Feature Picture Story category. Most of the really good commentary from the judges happens during the final rounds of the judging, and for this category that was during the final 10. Maybe it’s the fact that I love editing so much but I really understood where these judges were coming from. One of the stories in particular from this category that stood out to me was the first place winner: Damon Winter’s “Where Steel Meets Sky.” In these photo competitions you can see the same story entered over and over but this is one I was surprised, and happy to see. With incredible access, Winter gives an amazing account at what it is like for the workers building the new World Trade Center tower. During the final looks at this story there were some interesting things said by judges. Patricia Lanza made the argument tat there wasn’t any interaction in the story. Michel duCille came back with an obvious answer of “well of course not it’s hard to do that up there” and that that doesn’t take away from the story at all for him. But really thinking about it, I think the story could benefit from some sort of interaction. Maybe as they are going down to the ground, some sort of transitional, interaction would work? It could only benefit the story. One element of the story that drew me in immediately was the portraits Winter was able to capture. 

 Image

This one in particular, has so much emotion. Combined with the light and the composition, it makes it one of my favorite photos of the story.

This story reminds me of Charles C. Ebbets work of the construction workers on top of Rockefeller Center. but more intimate. Winter wasn’t afraid to get closer, and with the variety of moments he got, whether the subject stood alone or not, he was extremely successful.

Towards the end of the category judging the judges offered some great insight to those sitting in the room about making picture stories. They went back and forth on what was the most important element of the story: the content or the strength of images. Michael made his argument that the strength of the images is what’s most important. In this iron workers story, it rose above for him because he is taken somewhere he’s never seen before and shown in an emotional way. He doesn’t like it just for the storyline, which is how he felt about Tom Fox’s ‘Zach’s Journey’ about a blind child in this category.  Judge MaryAnne Golon also commented on the pacing of this iron workers story, as well as its “monumental scale.” She put this story in first place because of that, and the surprises it offered, where other stories didn’t. Through this round of judging we were not only able to see what makes a good picture story but what makes a picture story rise above the rest. The winning story combined with the judges commentary was not only extremely beneficial to me as a student in Picture Story, but for my work in general.

One-Day Story

For my one-day story I photographed Shannon Stewart, shelter manager, at Columbia’s only ‘wet’ homeless shelter. Wet meaning residents can be intoxicated or under the influence, but cannot be in possession of alcohol or drugs. Stewart is a volunteer, but he is more than that. As shelter manager, he has spent just about every night since the place opened at the shelter, and even has his own room. He used to be homeless, so he knows many of those coming to stay at the shelter. He knows everyones name and their drink of choice. He understands them and they understand and trust him. And that is obvious. The shelter will remain open until March 12, 2012, but Stewart is getting tired. Tired of the long nights he spends at the shelter after working his full-time day job at Jimmy Johns. Tired of the stress that comes from intoxicated fights of the residents. Tired from giving his all.

Here is the edit I came up with, and a few outtakes at the end:


Shannon Stewart, shelter manager at the Room at the Inn, folds sheets for a cot while preparing a bed for a resident on Tuesday, February 21, 2012. The shelter has a capacity of ten people per night, but some nights Stewart and the other volunteers do all they can to give a bed to everyone who needs one.


Stewart mediates an argument between two residents on Tuesday. The Room at the Inn is the only ‘wet shelter’ in Columbia, meaning residents can be drunk while they are there, but cannot have alcohol or drugs on the property. With most of the residents coming to the shelter intoxicated each night, arguments and fights arise easily, Stewart says.

A sign hangs in the shelter saying “make checks payable to Shannon Stewart.” The building the shelter is located in is the old Total Environments building on Old 63. Stewart, other volunteers and local churches have worked together to transform the once empty building into a comfortable place for the homeless in Columbia to stay during the winter months. Stewart has taken over the managerial role at the shelter voluntarily, and the sign is an attempt to make a joke at his reality.

Stewart takes a moment to himself as residents ready themselves for sleep. Stewart, who was once homeless himself, knows every resident that stays at the shelter. Because he knows their stories, their problems and their tempers, he is able to communicate with everyone on a more personal level, making the shelter feel more like home. The residents trust him and that shows in their interactions with Stewart.

Stewart sits down to watch the movie being played at the shelter on Tuesday night while Jack, a resident, sleeps against the wall. With tight space, Stewart and other volunteers do all they can to fit as many people into the building comfortably, and safely, as they can.

Stewart rests his head and closes his eyes as his night comes to a close. Having volunteered at the shelter almost every night since the beginning of January, Stewart, who sleeps there, is growing tired of the long days at his day job at Jimmy Johns and the long nights at the shelter. The shelter will close for the season on March 12, 2012. After that, the residents will have to find a new place to stay.

Outtakes:

One-Day Story Critique

For my one day story I spent some time at the Room at the Inn, one of Columbia’s homeless shelters. To change things up a bit, I decided to focus on the volunteers of the shelter. Since the beginning of January volunteers have been pulling all-nighters and waking up early to volunteer at the shelter from 7 p.m. when it opens to 7 a.m. when it closes. This idea of volunteering when most people are sleeping is what intrigued me, but when I met Shannon Stewart, the shelter manager, you could say, my story changed a bit. Stewart is a volunteer, but he is more than that. As shelter manager, he has spent just about every night since the place opened at the shelter, and even has his own room. He used to be homeless, so he knows many of those coming to stay at the shelter. He knows everyones name and their drink of choice. He understands them and they understand and trust him. And that is obvious. What makes the Room at the Inn unique to other shelters is that it is a ‘wet shelter’ meaning residents can be drunk or under the influence when they are there, but they are not allowed to bring it on the property. “These are the ones that the Salvation Army turns away,” Stewart said. The shelter will remain open until March 12, 2012, but Stewart is getting tired. Tired of the long nights he spends at the shelter after working his full-time day job at Jimmy Johns. Tired of the stress that comes from intoxicated fights of the residents. Tired from giving his all. He was a truly great subject to work with. 

As far as my story goes, I am pretty happy with it, given some of the conditions I had to work with. First of all, the lighting in that place is the WORST. We’re talking mixed light all over the place. With residents sleeping the entire time I was there, they had some of the lights off in corners of the room so I was nervous to use my strobe, and maybe I should have in the end. Shooting under tough light was my biggest hurdle, followed by not being able to take pictures of certain residents. Stewart told me that there were a few that were not able to give consent, so I tried to stay away from those. Another issue I ran into was finding a clean background. That place is so jam-packed with stuff that it made it really difficult. Technically, I am not too pleased with this story. I wish I could’ve tried new techniques and really played with the composition but I was so hung up on getting a linear story that I didn’t fully execute that. On the story side, I am happy with what I shot and would be interested in seeing it continue, though I think some of my shots would be pretty redundant if I went back. All that the volunteers do is sit around and make sure everyone is comfortable and has what they need. At this point in the season most of the residents have stayed every night and know the routine, as well as where everything is kept. That is another reason I focused on Stewart, because of all the volunteers, he is one of the only ones the residents can talk to about their problems and feel a sense of trust. He is also one of the only ones they will listen to when he says to back off or leave the building. He’s not afraid of that. Though I wish I had a larger variety of interaction with the residents, I think that Stewart’s role at the shelter is portrayed through my images. This assignment was one of the coolest ones I have done in a while (experience-wise) and I’m really happy that I met Stewart in the process.