I have little experience doing video work. In my three years of school thus far, I worked on one big collaborative video project for my Intro to Video class, but this past semester in my Advanced Video class, I wanted to know what it felt like to create a piece on my own.
I pre-planned several ideas for this project, but ended up deciding to try to find a para-swimmer - someone who participates in adaptive swimming. It was difficult to find a specific contact for this, and I ended up reaching out to several people throughout the state. My search lead me to a fifteen-year-old boy named Evan who suffers from blindness, hearing loss, and some physical impairments to his hands and feet.
At first, this subject was not who I was expecting. I was expecting a swimmer who was more visibly handicapped - missing a limb, paralyzed, etc. I was a little intimidating by even choosing Evan as a subject. How would I communicate to my audience the difficulties Evan faces if you can't see them outright? How would I show that he's not just a regular swimmer?
The story began as a story about Evan's passion for swimming. However, it became about Evan's life. Changing the course of my story altered how I viewed the narrative of the project and of course, how I interviewed Evan. As a photojournalist, I believe that there are always going to be a few stories that we work on that change our lives. For me, one of these life-changing stories was the one I recently completed on Evan. The biggest lesson I learned from this (besides always remembering to plug in your microphone) was something that school or Google couldn't teach me: how to communicate with someone who has never experienced life the same way you do.
I've always struggled a little bit with asking the right questions, or asking questions that lead to deeper thoughts. With Evan, I was challenged even more because he doesn't describe things in a way that others would... because he can't. He describes things in his own way, I learned, which made the story a lot more powerful.
I consider it one of my best projects simply because of how much I learned from it. Every person in our lives, no matter how personal or impersonal they are, teach us something. Evan taught me a crucial skill that I need to have as a journalist.