The Many Ways to Photograph Pineville

When I was in high school, I begged my parents to buy me a new DSLR camera. Growing up, my friends and I would go to downtown Charleston and take photographs at local coffee shops and bookstores. I’ve always been creative and love capturing memories. After a lot of convincing, my mom and dad bought me a Canon Rebel t5 during a Cyber Monday sale (Thanks Amazon Prime!). It was my birthday AND Christmas gift. I have been growing as a photographer since.

During my time at West Virginia University and working as #BrandJRNY’s photographer in the brand storytelling class, I’ve been introduced to the many forms of photography. Brand storytelling itself includes product photography, narrative storytelling, event photography and portraiture. So, I have learned that I need to be versatile in my skills in order to be a part of this team.

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I photographed Pineville’s Community Kickoff event in early September. The event kickstarted our branding initiative. Source: Brianna Fierro

1. Product Photography

When I think of product photography, I think of advertisements, posters, and social media. Initially, what comes to mind is food advertisements. The goal is for consumers to purchase or experience that product, and the photographer does this by presenting the merchandise in the most enticing way.

One day, we spent one entire class period photographing a muffin in front of a window. We experimented with natural light and flash because these details matter when you want to photograph a subject authentically. When you’re working with a town like Pineville, you have to think about what products they offer and how the team can showcase them in the best way possible(print ads, social media, etc.).

These tips will come in handy when we build our brand by capturing the huge bowl of fettuccine alfredo at Ole Jose’s, the calzones at the E-Z Stop or the sofas and loveseats for sale at Pineville Furniture.

2. Narrative Storytelling

This is the type of photography that piques my interest the most. I love to look through photostories from advanced photographers and travel to another world. These photos can also help educate viewers on important world issues. This type of photography makes me the most uncomfortable, but all good things happen when you leave your comfort zone. These photographs are visual stories that involve a committed relationship between the photographer and their subject. Our project with Pineville is a great example of this. We are building relationships with community members, creating content and telling their personal stories every step of the way.

3. Event Photography

Event photography is the bulk of the work I’ve done so far with #BrandJRNY. BranJRNY has hosted the Community Kickoff and a few Community Roundtables (focus groups). These events took place so our research team could gather information about the residents of Pineville. I have been documenting those events through photography, and we’ve been sharing these experiences on social media and other platforms.

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As an event photographer, it’s a great idea to show up early and take photographs of everyone setting up. Here we are pictured preparing for the Community Kickoff. | Source: Brianna Fierro

4. Portraiture

Portraiture, or portrait photography, is our team’s upcoming focus. We’re developing a portrait series that will highlight the people of Pineville, their personalities and their role in the community. This type of photography is essential in order to make this project more personal. I’ve been inspired by the way other artists have captured the people who live in small towns. I’m excited to take photos of Pineville residents in their natural settings and present their story in the most authentic way.

Overall, I have learned some easy and valuable tips for any beginning photographer which include: charge your battery (an embarrassing mishap), be patient when waiting for the perfect shot, and keep a photography list of desired shots.

My name is Ali Chambers, and I am a photographer for #BrandJRNY. I love wearing matching pajamas, and I prefer mountains over the beach. Follow me through our journey@aliiichambers.

Written by

AEP Foundation-funded Community Branding Initiative, housed in the Media Innovation Center at West Virginia University. Appalachia & Community-first mindset. 🌟

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