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News Spotlight
Interview | Set Forth with Michelle McLoughlin, Chair of Northern Short Course
shuran huang
Feb 19, 2019
Visura's "Set Forth Series" presents interviews with leading media professionals at organizations that work to offer educational, networking and career advancing opportunities in the media industry.  

Chinese photographer and journalist Shuran Huang will conduct the first 5 interviews.  Shuran is a recent graduate from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.  Through this series, she aims to inform her peers about a curated group of organizations that are working to empower student and emerging visual storytellers and journalists worldwide with access to career opportunities in the United States.  

Shuran connected with Michelle McLoughlin, the Chair of Northern Short Course to discuss this year's NPPA's 38th three-day photojournalism event on March 7-9, 2019 in Iselin, New Jersey and its role in visual storytelling and photojournalism today.
 



...stop comparing yourself to other photographers. 

Just because you did not get the top internship or
were not accepted into the Eddie Adams Workshop, 
which I am an alum of, it does not mean that you will not be successful. 

Find the stories you are passionate about and go do it.
—Michelle McLoughlin, Chair of Northern Short Course

 


Interview by Shuran Huang

Northern Short Course (NSC) offers educational and networking opportunities for visual storytellers and aspiring photojournalists, including portfolio reviews and a variety of workshops on business practices, lighting, multimedia, virtual reality, video, and storytelling. 

Established in 1981 by the Directors of Regions 1, 2 and 3 of National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the Northern Short Course operates in conjunction with, but separate from the NPPA, and is governed by its own board of directors. As I am volunteering to work at this year's three-day event —I thought it would be interesting to interview Michelle to learn more about what to expect and how to best prepare for the event. 

Photo by BP Miller
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Shuran Huang: What is the mission of Northern Short Course (NSC)?  

Michelle McLoughlin: The mission of the Northern Short Course is to offer educational and networking opportunities to aspiring photojournalists and offer a place for photojournalists to come together and learn from each other.
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SH: What type of workshops are designed in the NSC in order to achieve this mission?

Michelle McLoughlin: The NSC offers a wide variety of workshops, from business skills, lighting, storytelling, multimedia classes as well as workshops geared towards TV photojournalists. New in 2019, we are offering some Master’s Classes which are limited to 12 participants. These new classes include building a license from scratch and copyright registration, where participants will bring a set of images, a laptop and credit cards. With the help of NPPA Attorney Alicia Calzada, they will have images registered with the Copyright office.
______

SH: Why do you think these workshops are important for visual storytellers?


Michelle McLoughlin: With the industry continually changing, it is important for visual journalists to constantly find better methods of storytelling, from learning new skills in video and audio to business practices. Journalists need to be more well-rounded than ever.

The NSC offers a wide variety of these workshops that can be applied to journalists at any stage of their career. Attendees will be given access to learning from some of the best industry professionals who openly share their success as well as failures.

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SH: What specific tools and resources will they gain and have access to?

Michelle McLoughlin: Participants will have access to many manufacturers, including Canon, Fuji, Nikon, and Sony, to talk about what gear best fits their needs.

A great benefit of the NSC is the portfolio reviews that are offered with your paid registration. Typically 20-25 professionals donate their time to participate in the individual and group reviews that will last 20 minutes. The reviewers often are looking for interns or journalists to be able to call upon for assignments.
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SH: How can visual storytellers best prepare for these workshops?

Michelle McLoughlin: Participants should attend the event with their portfolio. Whether it is in print or on a laptop, make sure your laptop is charged and do not rely on internet access to show your work. Bring business cards and/or postcards if you have them.

It is always a great idea to research the faculty and speakers before you arrive. It will help you decide what you want to attend and also give you a conversation starter when you see them outside of their presentations. 99% of faculty and speakers are very open to talking, remember they were where you are now once too. Also, get a lot of sleep before you arrive, the days will be long and you won’t want to miss anything.
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SH: What was your process and what were the guidelines and standards that you used when selecting the 2019 faculty and workshop leaders?

Michelle McLoughlin: Each year, we aim to update the programming and speakers to reflect changes in the industry so we are able to stay relevant and ahead of what the trends are. In regard to selecting faculty, we strive to have a diverse mix of faculty and speakers, in terms of background and career paths. We look for people doing different work, people that are not only successful in their careers but are able to be relatable to the attendees.


A large focus for 2019 is adding more business workshops as well as workshops designed to help find funding for projects. With more and more photojournalists being independent, it is necessary for them to learn business practices in order to have a sustainable career.
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SH: What perspectives do you hope the staff and coaches can bring to further the work of participating in visual storytellers, especially students and alumni?

Michelle McLoughlin: I hope that each faculty member and speaker brings their own perspectives because there is not one right way to furthering your work as a journalist. What works for one person may not work for another. The faculty are not there to present a “how-to to be successful,” they are there to provide some insight to their work, what makes them successful and often what they hope to see in the future of the industry.

Personally, I always hope attendees see how much the faculty and staff give of themselves to make this event happen and it inspires them, even in a small way, to want to give back to the industry in the future.
______

SH: What role does the Northern Short Course play in advancing photojournalism and visual storytelling today?

Michelle McLoughlin: I see our role as trying to stay ahead of where the industry is going and to provide training and an arena for discussion for photojournalists to stay relevant in their skills. An important role we play is providing a place for journalists to meet in person and network, socialize and learn from each other. With fewer journalists in newsrooms, it is important to provide a place to interact with other journalists in person.
______

SH: What are the main discussions that NSC’s lecture series aims to offer? And why?

Michelle McLoughlin: We bring in six lecture series speakers each year. Some of the speakers are chosen based on issues in the field we feel are important and often overlooked in everyday conversations in the journalism community.

In 2019, we are bringing in two photojournalists Louie Palu and Holly Pickett to speak about safety while working both domestically and internationally. We feel these issues are incredibly important and often not discussed in the industry, especially mental health and PTSD.  For the remaining lecture series speakers, we aim to find journalists who will be able to inspire others to push themselves with their storytelling.
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Photo by BP Miller

______

SH: What is the Michel du Cille Memorial Scholarship? Who can apply? What do you look for amongst the applicants and their submissions?

Michelle McLoughlin: The Michel du Cille Memorial Scholarship commemorates the life of Michel du Cille, a Jamaican-born American photojournalist, and winner of three Pulitzer Prizes, during his career at The Miami Herald and The Washington Post. Du Cille passed away on December 11, 2014, while covering the Ebola crisis in Liberia on assignment for The Washington Post. Du Cille was a huge advocate of the Northern Short Course, and strongly believed in offering educational opportunities to people who could not afford them, so upon his death, the NSC Board created a scholarship in his name to help bring 1 person to the NSC each year. We raise funds, in conjunction with the National Press Photographers Foundation, through a print swap at the Northern Short Course sponsored by Canon and a biennial online print auction.

The scholarship is open to any photojournalist, students, and professionals. The 2018 winner was actually a student. One of the judges Nikki Kahn, who is a permanent judge, Michel’s widow, and former Washington Post staff photographer, looks for photographers that are able to tell a story and have a level of intimacy in their work.
______

SH: In addition to build connections with industry professionals, what are other advantages of participating in the NSC?

Michelle McLoughlin: There are so many advantages in participating. One thing I see after the event each year is how energized people are. In today’s climate, it is easy to get lost in the photo world and not feel like you have an in-person community. So many journalists rarely go into their newsrooms anymore, if they even have them, and having that face-to-face time to reconnect and reenergize if invaluable.  While the online groups can be invaluable, being able to talk to someone in person can make you feel even more of a community. Of course one of the main advantages is to see the incredible work being done by colleagues and have them share their thought process and planning that goes into creating their work, in addition to learning new skills.

______

SH: What advice can you give to aspiring photojournalists today as an Educator and Professional Photojournalist?

Michelle McLoughlin: One thing I tell aspiring photojournalists, especially those at the highly competitive college programs is to stop comparing yourself to other photographers. Just because you did not get the top internship or were not accepted into the Eddie Adams Workshop, which I am an alum of, it does not mean that you will not be successful. Find the stories you are passionate about and go do it.  The other piece of advice is don’t be a jerk. This is a very small industry and word travels fast. Leave the attitude at home and don’t make excuses to your editors, there are 1000 people lined up behind you to take the next job.

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