Every Convention Tells a Story – JEA San Antonio

True story:

While I was preparing for my final presentation, a sales person approached me in my hotel lobby. The woman wanted to sell me something similar to a timeshare, “but it was not a timeshare.”  I stopped preparing my presentation while my tea finished steeping.  She continued asking me questions loud enough so that I could barely hear the newscaster discuss the recent CIA Director’s resignation. Then the salesperson inside my hotel asked me, “So what do you think about this David Petraeus thing.” Before I could respond, the salesperson continued,

“I think that Obama is a secret Muslim and he is covering up Benghazi.”

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Slideshow Link

I paused before responding… I paused several times. My answer was quite brilliant, and I will share it for you in the comment section in case your hotel sanctions similar sales tactics. For now, I want to illustrate a different point.

Some people will make up “the story behind the story.”

  (bryan farley)

At the San Antonio JEA/ NSPA National High School Journalism Conference, I presented a photo story workshop with Dave LaBelle. Dave and I also instructed at a similar convention in Seattle, Washington earlier this year.  I probably benefit from the relationship more than any audience member. Because of Dave’s accomplishments, I am challenged to work harder. Since Dave is generous, who am I to be selfish?

 (bryan farley)

Dave and I encourage students to tell stories, or as Dave explains, “make pictures.” This is not to be confused with “make UP pictures,” rather he differentiates make from take. Dave interacts with people. He reveals stories.  He tells “stories behind the stories.”

 The Historic Market Square El Mercado in San Antonio, Texas is the largest Mexican market outside Mexico. (bryan farley)

When I am near Dave, I am compelled to meet new people and find new stories. I met a woman who danced to an old song. (She is a professor.) I will remember her forever, and you will once you see her dancing.  I saw an old friend from high school who moved to San Antonio more than ten years ago. We ate at Casa Rio and toured the River Walk. I visited a local farmers market at The Pearl Brewery where I met two new chefs and an old dog on a bike. At the Market Square (El Mercado), I saw an Elvis impersonator. I think.

The Historic Market Square El Mercado in San Antonio, Texas is the largest Mexican market outside Mexico. (bryan farley)

I made new friends at The Body Shop. I also met a University of Texas student who, coincidentally, was working on a photo story about his girlfriend. She is a teacher who plays guitar. I went to the Hard Rock Cafe and toasted my father with another new friend. We shared the family stories behind the stories. Then I went to sleep.

  (bryan farley)


After the final sunrise, a Rising Star brought her San Diego high school students to The Alamo for a quick portrait lesson.


 (bryan farley)

The next JEA National Conference will be much different. I am one of the local organizers. I will be creating the story.


25 Responses to “Every Convention Tells a Story – JEA San Antonio”

  1. Bryan Farley says:

    Bradley Wilson, Mark Murray, and Jill Jarsulic Chittum might recognize a few people in this post. It was great seeing you last weekend. The San Francisco convention will not be as relaxing for me since I am one of the organizers. I guess I will have to work.

  2. I don’t have a lot of time to travel Bryan, but I’d like to get out and shoot something local with you sometime.

  3. Bryan Farley says:

    Seedy Aruszka That would be great. At each convention, there is a recurring lesson that a photographer can find something local. Of course, those of us leading the critique have traveled to say it, but I usually return home inspired. At this last convention, there were two very different images that inspired me to shoot locally.

  4. i loved the commentary between photos. we can talk in detail personally. Any time im out with my camera with a purpose, everything slows down. I enjoy my time with a camera across my neck more than almost anything. I love hanging with other photographers because I almost always learn something.

  5. Bryan Farley says:

    David LaBelle, who appears throughout the post and photos, has written a few good books in case you want added inspiration. The Great Picture Hunt was one of his earlier books. http://www.greatpicturehunt.com/ I will look for the link to his more recent book.

  6. McKenna Bulkley says:

    Thanks for meeting with us in San Antonio!

    • bryan farley says:


      It was a great deal of fun. I hope I see you in San Francisco or I find a way to visit San Diego County before the year is over. One of my best friends lives in San Diego and many other friends and family live there too. I have wanted to plan a photo trip and if I can see you along the way, I will visit Ms. Young and the other students too.

      How were your photos?


  7. Mercedez McNabb says:

    Thank you so much for letting me use your expensive lens and flash. I really liked the experience of using them. Thank you for meeting with us.

  8. Mike Simons says:

    Bradley Wilson. Picture #40 in the gallery.

    Just sayin’.

    Somewhere in Upstate NY….

    • bryan farley says:

      What was Bradley thinking? Bradley? Do you remember? Anyone? Anyone?


      • Probably, “Oh, geez, we’ve only got until 5:45 p.m. If I give the microphone to Bryan, we’re done for.” 🙂 (This is why photographers hate to have their pictures taken.)

        • bryan farley says:

          and why photographers hate to have other photographers comment on their blog!!!

          Hey, why don’t we have more microphones during the critique? Why must you keep the only microphone? That seems like an unfair burden for you. Actually, you do an excellent job moving us forward. I wish we had an institutional memory of the old system so that our group could see how much we have improved. The students who also want to know more, often stay and show pictures or send us links. There is much more beneficial feedback.


  9. Jason Gardiner says:

    Hi Bryan and Dave,
    I really wanted to attend your workshop on photo stories in San Antonio but was unable to. I would love it if you could send me a PowerPoint or handout or anything from the workshop. At my newspaper we do a photo essay for each issue and I’m always looking for tips and ideas.

    • bryan farley says:


      David and I are considering how we can post resources for people who did not attend as well as more information for those who want to pursue photo stories.
      What do you currently use as a guide? What is your school site?

      • Jason Gardiner says:

        Our website is http://www.tohsthelancer.org, and I’ve been using Tim Harrower’s Newspaper Design Handbook as a guide.

        • bryan farley says:


          Have you read the photojournalism text by Ken Kobre? (The first edition was written in 1980. I believe their is a 6th or 7th edition.) You can learn more at his multimdedia site here http://kobreguide.com/

          He includes a chapter about photo story and essay. I have a few other books that address the topic, but I do not have a “go to” photo story book. Perhaps the book has yet to be written.

          I searched your site. I especially enjoyed your Blog of Mormon. Now that would be a fun photo story.


  10. Looks like you had fun in San Antonio. I like the pictures of the RiverWalk.

    • bryan farley says:


      It was so good to see you. Can you believe it had been that long? And yet, it seemed like we were old friends (which we are.)

      If I return, I hope I will be able to see your daughter and husband. It has been great learning more about them. I would enjoy meeting them though.

  11. […] National Convention, I was busy creating expectations. After the last convention in San Antonio, I even thought that I would influence the story. Wrong. I did not even control my own computer. I barely managed my own emotions. When the […]

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