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MediaStorm Interview: Lucy Nicholson

Lucy shooting One Man Brand

Lucy Nicholson is a senior staff photographer with Reuters. She was born in London and is based in Los Angeles, having worked as a photographer in Mexico City, Chile, and Northern Ireland.

You attended our Advanced Multimedia Workshop in 2008 and produced “One Man Brand.” How has that workshop influenced your work since?
I think MediaStorm creates some of the best multimedia out there, so just picking up their way of doing things was valuable. There’s no one correct way to mix audio, stills and video for the web, so it was good to have people who really knew what they were doing give me a formula to start with. The course gave me a lot of confidence, and set a standard for me to emulate. I learn more every time I produce a multimedia project. 

Your piece “Homegirl cafe” was a 2011 Webby Awards honoree. How did you find the story?
I initially shot a photo essay on Homegirl Cafe at the request of our magazine desk. While I was there, I met Stephanie, and became interested in telling her story. I made some trips back on my own time to talk to her, and win her trust, and then shot the video interview and boxing footage. The piece was also nominated for multimedia at the Reuters internal annual journalist awards, which I hope will enable me to produce more projects.

What were the key things you were keeping in mind while you were producing the piece?
Telling a concise story from a long, sometimes rambling interview. Telling Stephanie’s story with compassion, and honestly portraying the fragile place in her life that she’s at – she could continue going straight, or fall back into the life she led before.

When you’re producing your multimedia stories, do you typically work as a one-man-band or in a team? Do you do all of your own shooting and editing?

I shot and edited on my own:
— Homegirl Cafe
— Beijing Olympics 2008. I shot video interviews and behind-the-scenes still photo sequences (you’re not allowed to shoot video footage at the Olympics if you’re not a rights holder), and put these together with Reuters photos from all the photographers at the Olympics.
— Superbowl XLII

— I contributed a video and photo story about evictions to Reuters’ Times of Crisis multimedia package, along with other Reuters photographers. The project was produced by Ayperi Ecer, VP, Pictures & Jassim Ahmad, Global Head of Multimedia & Interactive Innovation at Reuters, and Bob Sacha & Brian Storm at MediaStorm. Jassim, Bob and I made “One Man Brand” together at the MediaStorm workshop.
Times of Crisis was nominated for an Emmy, and won Pictures of the Year International Documentary Project of the Year and NPPA multimedia package 1st place.
— I shot video and stills about an Afghanistan women’s shelter for a multimedia package put together by online editor Jill Kitchener
— I shot and edited Route to Recovery as part of a larger Reuters multimedia story (http://www.reuters.com/routetorecovery)
— I shot video for a Reuters Insider TV piece, produced by Laura Beatty for business visitors to LA

Any tips or tricks you’ve found that help you when you’re working on deadline?
Most of the multimedia I’ve produced hasn’t been for a specific deadline. The lesson I need to learn once and for all is how much easier it is to get good, clean sound in the field, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time fixing it when I’m editing. 

I’m usually pretty frustrated with myself when I listen to my interviews, and think of all the questions I should have been prompted to ask! I’m improving though, as I feel more comfortable with the process and the equipment.

Do you have plans for another multimedia piece?
I really love producing multimedia, and hope I can do a lot more of it. I learn so much every time I have the chance to work on another piece, and I’m constantly on the lookout for stories that have multimedia potential. 

I’ve set myself a personal goal to produce at least one a year (in between my busy day-to-day work!), and I’ve managed to do this every year since 2008. I feel lucky that my boss, Gary Hershorn, Reuters News Pictures Editor-North America, has been very supportive of this, and understands the value of more in-depth productions.

I try to start with photo essays and always take my audio recorder to interview people and record snatches of ambient sound. Often I’ll write text stories from these interviews for the Reuters Photographers Blog, and sometimes for the wire. Reuters has its own television and text departments, and those guys often accompany me on stories. So sometimes the multimedia is an online package of separate components produced by Corinne Perkins and the online desk, rather than a whole piece I produce myself.

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