Professional: audio adds depth to still photography

For nearly 20 years, Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice relied solely on her camera to tell compelling stories.

But in the last several years she has begun adding an audio component to her photojournalism efforts. “The purpose of a still photo is storytelling,” she says. “Why not enhance it by adding richness and depth to the story? (Audio) is powerful; it enables the subject to tell the story in their own words.”

Fitzmaurice uses a handheld linear PCM recorder to capture the audio that turns her photo essays into multimedia masterpieces. She will often record a mixture of interviews and ambient sounds before editing them into the foundation for her productions. “Audio is the backbone of a story,” she says. “It takes still photography to a whole new level.”

A frequent lecturer on photojournalism and multimedia, Fitzmaurice admits to having little background in audio recording before undertaking her multimedia projects. She says her linear PCM recorder’s ease of use, durability and outstanding sound quality were attractive. “You can almost take it out of the box and start using it – it’s pretty intuitive,” she says, adding that it took a while to hone her skills. “I learned to keep quiet when interviewing people, for example, not saying ‘uh-huh’ when a subject answered me. And I learned to ask questions that yield more than a yes-or-no answer.”

She says she finds it difficult to shoot photos and record audio at the same time, so she develops a strategy for each subject in advance. “It depends on the situation and the timing,” she says. “If I do the audio interview first, I know more about the story and I know what images I need to look for. If I shoot stills first, I know what I want to talk with them about.”

Fitzmaurice offers encouragement to other photographers—professional and amateur—interested in experimenting with multimedia. She recommends starting with a small project on a topic they are passionate about, for instance, a child’s soccer game. “You shoot stills of a soccer game, then get audio of kids yelling and screaming, a whistle, the sound of the ball being kicked,” she says. “And you can interview the person who scored the winning goal. Then you have elements that you can turn into a story.

Check out the multimedia and photography work of Deanne Fitzmaurice.

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