Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ferndale welcomes Michigan's first cat café

The reason I chose to study journalism is that I believe everyone has a story to tell. Journalism allows me to reach out to people, get to know them and share their feelings, experiences and knowledge with the rest of the world.

Being in Detroit inspired me to seriously pursue my love of photography, videography and film. I not only want to bring depth and care to a person's words, but also document and showcase his or her story with pictures and video.

I hadn't made much progress on choosing a topic halfway through the semester. I knew I'd be on a time crunch in December to shoot and edit this project in addition to the two other final video projects I was assigned in other classes.

Seemingly out of thin air, I felt compelled to browse the websites of the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News for any ideas or leads. Eureka! The Detroit News completed a small profile of a newly opened Catfé in Ferndale, Michigan: the first of its kind.

That weekend, I drove to the Catfé to size up the possibility of this place as my subject. I was greeted with warm welcomes by Deanne Iovan, the director of The Catfé Lounge, and she swiftly agreed to be the focus of my photo story.

This experience definitely brought me out of my shell. It was up to me (and me alone) to establish a rapport with this business, get the pictures I needed and produce a final video that both the lounge and I would be proud of.

Since I worked (and hung out) at the Catfé for a few weekends in a row, I also began to speak with the directors of the Ferndale Cat Shelter. One of the directors admired the pictures I had taken that day, and she asked me to assist them with videos for the shelter in the future.

So, in conclusion, you never know what a final project may bring. Whether it's stress, experience, opportunity or a room full of cats, following a career that brings you joy will always be worth the work.

Thank you to Lori King and my COM 2280 class for making this semester one to remember!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Guts, glory and the ultimate test of my patience

Warren Mott's Alexis Fleming advances around Centerline's Nadine Abroo during an out-of-division match on Wednesday.
Al Velasco, varsity coach of the Warren Mott Marauders, instructs midfielder Alexis Fleming during the middle of play. 

In the back of a pickup truck, some young Marauders fans get an up-close view of a Warren Mott Varsity corner kick.
    For my sports assignment, I attended a women's soccer friendly between the Warren Mott Marauders and Centerline Panthers. Warren Mott competes two divisions higher than Centerline during the regular season, so the game was exciting to watch as a Marauder fan. 

    Overall, the Lady Marauders dominated the game play with the goals distributed amongst at least four different Mott players. Mott's midfielder Alexis Fleming had excellent ball control throughout the game, giving her forwards more passing and goal-scoring opportunities. Mott Head Coach Al Velasco rallied his team with a calm nature during the game, and he encouraged the girls to work on making long passing runs and incorporating kickoff plays by the opponent's net.

     I didn't expect sports photography to be easy, but this assignment really tested my patience and endurance as a photographer. Not only do you need to follow the game play, you must keep an eye on the coaches, benches and fans and constantly adjust your camera settings (at least for outdoors events). Since I was lucky enough to have free reign of the entire field, I was able to vary my shots and look for interesting new perspectives. 

    Still, even if I had good framing, I needed the picture to be properly exposed and in focus to be considered a usable image. While I don't see myself shooting sports regularly for a career, I can take what I know and love about photography to produce quality memories for my family one day.

Get Adobe Flash player
Photo Gallery by

Thursday, November 19, 2015

How does one capture someone's essence in a single photograph?

    For this assignment, I worked with WDET to take portraits that will accompany a story about minority-owned businesses. I had to contact the business owners myself and arrange a time to take their portraits. Being a student and working over 30 hours each week doesn't leave a lot of room in my schedule to photograph during the day.  

Ayanna Williams
    These owners gave me quite the runaround, so I was thankful my contacts at WDET were understanding and willing to rethink some of their photo requests. On top of not receiving any word back from these owners (especially after attempting to contact them multiple times over multiple days), I felt discouraged and worried I would fail my first real task of real-world photojournalism. But here I am. I got my picture, and my world didn't go up in flaming failure.  

    The only person to actually call me back was Ayanna Williams, the owner of Pedicures and Shoes 2 Go. She was bright, bubbly, and really fun to photograph.  I started by taking Williams to a glorious wall of shoes. Although I successful kept myself out of the mirror on the wall, the picture didn't turn out quite as nicely as I hoped. Next, Williams tried a few different poses sitting by her manicure and pedicure stations and against a red wall with black accent decals. The lighting was better here, but I still wasn't satisfied. Finally, Williams sat on the black leather waiting area chairs and posed with some of her polishes and merchandise. Voila! The lighting hit her smile perfectly, and the shot portrayed her personality and profession!

Ayanna Williams, co-owner of Pedicure and Shoes 2 Go, turned her love of nails and shoes into a business, which is set to open Dec. 1. Williams said she chose to open the pilot store in Detroit because "the city is coming back."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Point, shoot, listen: Let the subject be your guide

Arch Deacon Justin Zigirany Razo, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, gave a talk Thursday at Towers Residential Suites about the atrocities that took place as well as the strides the country has made in the 21 years since.
"You cannot forget where you came from," said Razo, "and to genocide we say: 'Never Again.'"
 Arch Deacon Justin Zigirany Razo and his family lived in northern Rwanda before they fled conflict at the start of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Razo is now the priest of an evangelical church in Kibuye, Rwanda. 
"Through this suffering, I saw the hand of Jesus. I was saved," said Razo. 

A pre-med student works in a nap between lab practicals just outside Wayne State University's Purdy/Kresge Library on Nov. 4.
    Having made the journey across campus through gale force winds and sideways rain, I arrived early to shoot pictures of a talk held in the multi-purpose room of Towers Residential Suites. I tucked away my coat and gear in the corner and began to meter my camera for the room's unforgiving fluorescent lights. I spoke with some of the event sponsors and managed to scope out good places to shoot the event from.  All in all, I had a pretty good idea of what kinds of shots I was going to produce.

    In walks the speaker: Arch Deacon Justin Zigirany Razo.  Razo, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, is dedicated to spreading awareness of the atrocities that took place as well as the strides the country has made in the 21 years since the genocide began in 1994.

    When I introduced myself to Razo before the talk started, he gladly suggested we take a few moments to get to know each other. He even insisted that I call him Justin.

    The first thing you notice about Razo is that is a man of small stature with a smile that stretches from ear to ear. I would say his most captivating trait, however, is his extremely genuine aura. From a photojournalist's perspective, I was drawn to his expressiveness: both in his countenance as well as his hand movements.

    Throughout Razo's talk, I moved around the room and varied my shooting angles. I made sure to include audience members in shots as well as shots solely of the speaker. The most important thing I did though,  was listen. I didn't spend the entire talk hastily buzzing around the room and producing distracting amounts of camera clicks. I sat for periods of time and just listened to Razo tell his story. I let his emotions and movements guide my photography so that I would produce pictures that accurately reflected Razo's sincere nature.

    The spot feature proved to be much harder to find. While there were always many people around campus, it was hard to find someone doing something newsworthy. After many days of unsuccessful scouting, I noticed a medical student that was taking a nap outside between classes. I decided to take his picture and approach him when he woke up. I inquired as to why he was so tired, and he simply responded "I'm pre-med."  He said I could identify him by his major and went on to talk about he practicals he had ben studying for. While I don't think this candid photo is especially intriguing, I could see it being used in articles about students experiencing sleep deprivation or students that are overworked. 

    If I had to describe my experience in one word, I would say: reaffirming. I've known for a long time that I would fall in love with photography when I got my hands on a DSLR camera.  So, I am pleased to see that I fall more in love with photojournalism every time I complete an assignment.

    From shooting this specific event, I have learned that photojournalists needs to be consumed by their work. Not in a compulsive way, though. By being patient, curious and open to the subject's message, you will find the inspiration you need to capture beautiful images. 

Get Adobe Flash player
Photo Gallery by

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Camera operations: Using manual mode can make or break your photos

    In order to be a competitive candidate in the world of journalism, I need to hone as many skills as possible. Since I have a passion for photography, this class will help me look through the lens as a photojournalist.

    This assignment was to include various compositional and structural elements to demonstrate our camera operations.

Shallow Depth of Field // ISO: 100 // Aperture: 5.6 // SS: 1/250
Wide Depth of Field // ISO: 100 // Aperture: 8.0 // SS: 1/125
Rule of Thirds // ISO: 100 // Aperture: 10.0 // SS: 1/250
Stopped Action // ISO: 100 // Aperture: 4.5 // SS: 1/500
My attempt at Panned Action // ISO: 200 // Aperture: 8.0 // SS: 1/60
Window Lighting // ISO: 3200 // Aperture: 11.0 // SS: 1/30
Silhouette // ISO: 200 // Aperture: 5.6 // SS: 1/500
Element of Choice // ISO: 100 // Aperture: 11.0 // SS: 1/60
Extreme Perspective // ISO: 400 // Aperture: 8.0 // SS: 1/80

Here is a photo gallery with bonus photos from my assignment! 

Photo Gallery by

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Stories and photos brought to you by ethically sound journalists

    The First Amendment gives the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petitioning to all its citizens. As a journalist, it is imperative that I know my rights and are conscious of situations when these rights can be violated. Such knowledge will only benefit my career and improve my understanding of how to perform my job ethically.
    The press has self-determined responsibilities beyond those given to all citizens in order to produce objective, ethically obtained and portrayed stories. Using sources that were influenced in any way violates journalism ethics.  For example, ethical journalists do not pay for information or receive payment for stories. Journalists are also expected and instructed to truthfully and honestly represent every topic and subject of their stories. How can the audience trust what the journalist says if the journalist is not honest about his/her own material? When handling private or controversial matters, journalists should reflect upon the newsworthiness and necessity of such instances. Journalists need to ask themselves: What does this detail contribute to my story?
    Photojournalists have an additional ethics code to follow since pictures and visual representation are added to the mix. Just as journalists are expected to represent subjects truthfully, photojournalists must capture honest, candid moments of their subjects. Photojournalists cannot stage photos since this would be considered influencing the subjects or perception of the event. Editing imperfect images is extremely tempting, so photojournalists must be sure to only crop and lighten/darken their images. Because photo captions communicate basic and important written information about a picture, photojournalists must ensure that captions follow AP style.
                Being a journalism student has both advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes sources are more likely to open up and events are more likely to grant admittance to the student for reasons of empathy or educational purposes. Nevertheless, journalism students often experience pushback from their own universities—arguably where journalism students do most of their reporting. From the last couple years of classes, I have learned that practicing sound journalism ethics will improve my new value sense, my reporting abilities, and my career prospects. What workplace wants to worry that the new hire is going to put the company in a legal predicament? But most importantly, this lesson bestowed confidence in me to know my rights and know that I am entitled to certain information.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My first post: From small beginnings come short introductions

    My name is Kaitlin Fazio. I am studying print journalism and media arts at Wayne State University in Detroit. When I'm not writing or reading news, I thoroughly enjoy refining my photography skills, listening to music, and spending time in Detroit with my loving group of friends.

    "Fotos by Fazio" is a blog dedicated to the work for my WSU photojournalism class. I purchased my first DSLR camera last year, so I am ecstatic to learn more about the art of photography and photojournalism! Not only will I hone a useful and marketable new skill, but also revel in a new passion that is relative to my career path!

Follow my Twitter and Instagram! @knfazio