“Is that… a dabbing banana?”
Members of the Haven Yearbook staff got this question more than once on Saturday, November 13 as they wore the t-shirts senior editor-in-chief Kai Lincke convinced them to buy online a few days before the Philadelphia Storytelling Workshop, sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association.
The Philadelphia Storytelling Workshop, which took place at the Philadelphia Marriott in Center City, included a Thursday evening keynote speaker and workshop sessions running the full days on Friday and Saturday. Student journalists and advisers worked directly with master educators within ten options for workshop tracks. Haven Yearbook staff members participated in the yearbook, photojournalism, and broadcast tracks, while adviser Ms. Kate Plows took part in adviser professional development.
Saturday marked the final sessions and award ceremony of the two-day workshop. When the Haven Yearbook was announced as a 10th place Best in Show winner, the same team spirit that led students to wear matching t-shirts resulted in loud cheers and a brief pause in ceremonies as Lincke and fellow editor-in-chief Marin Lent ran to the front of the auditorium and posed for a picture with their certificate.
Our yearbook staff is very grateful to the Strath Haven High School administration for the support in attending our first national programming for journalism. You will have to ask these student journalists to explain the dabbing banana in person, but here are their reactions to the full experience of the workshop.
Catherine Caruso '24
Going to the NSPA Pacemaker Master Class for photojournalism was an insightful experience. Three experienced photojournalists taught a class of experienced and beginner photography students how to capture readers’ attention with a great photo and writing piece.
We first were taught to identify the components of a photo that made them so eye-catching. Allowing the viewer to be able to have their own opinion and pull their own experiences into the photo will compel viewers. In every photo, there should be a clear subject that the eye will go to first, and the background elements should not overpower the subject. Foreground, middle ground, and background should be considered and carefully placed into each photo.
We learned that photos should be cropped to strengthen composition, and the camera needs to be taken where many people have not been before. Taking time to let the action moment occur will ensure the most potential-filled shot. Strong emphasis on getting the raw reactions of people and seeing what the subject is doing or who they are talking to was taught. We want to be able to see who the person is talking to and what they are doing to put together all the pieces of the story.
A caption should add to the photo, filling in small details from the story; not unlock major details that the photo should be capturing.
We learned how to use light to our advantage in accentuating and sculpting facial features. Flash can be bounced against walls to give light that is not extremely sharp to a face. The darker the environment is, the less flash should be used, and the brighter the environment is the more flash that should be used. When there is ambient light in a building you should try and diffuse that light by bouncing it off of something else.
One of the teachers said that you should not be editing your photos based on visuals, but on the data. All photos should be edited using RGB, focusing on one channel at a time. Editing with data ensures that you will get the same results throughout all technology bases, and a real change.
During the critiquing of our yearbook, the expert made multiple comments on adding white space and not packing the pages with so many pictures.
Georgia Gianopulos '23
This year I had the opportunity to go to a convention where there were people who loved yearbook as much as I do. The weekend was structured into three days — the first being an opening keynote, talking about how the speaker got into their school’s newspaper and got into photojournalism. The second day was a workshop from 9-5, and I joined four of my classmates in a specific workshop for photography. The final day was another workshop. Throughout these days I learned more than I thought I could handle, but had the time of my life doing so.
The opening night had me filled to the brim of my heart with excitement. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was so joyous that every little thing that happened that night turned into a big memory I know I’m never going to forget. We (my classmates and my adviser) walked into this massive hotel in the middle of Philly. We settled down in a conference room and waited — and finally the beginning of this convention had started. The speaker, Becky Bowers, who has worked for multiple papers and has spoken at many journalism conventions, talked about what led her to loving what she does and how to engage readers more. She reminded us, “You want this to be about the readers.” I really needed to hear somebody say that, because I know I would forget that this yearbook wasn’t just for me, but for the community.
The second day I walked in with the knowledge of how a camera works, how to take pictures, composition guidelines, and a few extra tips I had learned prior to this year. I came out of that workshop knowing more than I wanted about exposure and how aperture, ISO, and shutter speed HAVE to work together or something will go wrong when your final pictures are processed. I learned how to crop and make the focus of the picture more focused.
The instructor, Mike Simons, had stated something that I, AGAIN, never would have thought about if somebody hadn’t said it out loud — he honestly stated “I don’t give a crap about what your Instagram aesthetic is — that isn’t photography editing.” I learned how to PROPERLY edit pictures like a photographer would, and I figured out how to genuinely tell a story and make the reader wonder the five W’s and H (Who, what, when…).
The second day also had me face a big fear: interviewing people and writing important things down — and not just any people. We had to interview complete strangers who had never seen us before. These people had to trust us within five minutes. I think this alone was the most eye-opening procedure I have experienced in a few years. I interviewed a worker in the Reading Terminal Market, somebody who had helped create a small business and help tan it to the point where it ended up in the ginormous market.
The final day I learned how to write a caption. Now, I had been really good at avoiding learning how to and actually writing captions. I couldn’t maneuver my way around this workshop though. In this, I learned that each sentence has to continue telling the story farther; farther than Pluto is from the Sun. I learned that captions make or break a photo. I learned that my adviser, Ms. Plows, was trying to actually help me be a better photographer when she tried teaching me caption writing.
For anybody reading this – I am telling you that you must go learn to write captions if you take photography or want to peruse a career in the art form. As somebody who genuinely hates writing, caption writing is not hard at all and when you finish a caption, it feels like the photo has been completed.
I never thought I’d have this opportunity in my life. Go out there and learn. Go out and take risks. Go out and step outside the comfort zone. I learned so much, I thought my brain would explode (it didn’t).
Remember that if your ISO is too bright, turn down the shutter speed. Remember photographers mark and freeze moments of history. Use that to your advantage.
Jack Henry '23
When I first heard of this opportunity, I do not think my excitement was up to par with what Ms. Plows wished it to be. But I could not have been more incorrect in my lack of enthusiasm. This experience is in the top five experiences I have ever been a part of. In only three days, I learned more about photojournalism and how to improve our shooting, editing, and exportation process than I ever thought I could. Traveling with this team, learning and growing alongside them, and meeting exceptionally talented people from across the country opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that we have as a yearbook club and the potential that is only ours to lose.
Day one started late. We arrived at the venue at around 6 pm. The venue was the conference center at the Marriott Hotel. Across the street was the Reading Terminal Market, which will be talked about in large. The hotel was massive and very fancy. We made our way through the main entryway, up the elevators, and to the conference center. When we arrived at the check-in area, our group received name tags, lanyards, and fun little flags to place under the tags. Because we had an hour until the keynote speaker came on, our group took a self-guided “tour” of the hotel. We went all around exploring our options for the following day’s photo opportunities.
When it was about time for the keynote speaker to begin, we headed back to the conference room and took a seat. The keynote speaker was a woman by the name of Becky Bowers. Becky is the product manager of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Even in the 45 minutes she spoke, we gained extensive knowledge on how to improve our yearbook team. She talked about how we should center our audience and put our readers first when deciding what to write and shoot. We gained knowledge on how to make information accessible for our student body by modernizing our online website, providing true information, and prioritizing what our students need to know. Near the end of the ceremony, they turned to the audience to ask questions. Kai Lincke, one of the Editors-in Chief of the Yearbook and Panther Press, and I were able to ask Becky questions and receive in-depth feedback on how to get people excited to engage and tell stories.
When the ceremony was over, we walked around and talked to other staffs from all around the country. We met groups from California, Texas, Kansas City, Florida, and even Nebraska. We left the convention center that night very tired, but overwhelmingly excited for what was to come in the following days.
Day two started with a very early morning. We arrived at the convention center by 7:30 am and headed to our classrooms. Our group was taking three different courses, including photojournalism, video and broadcast, and yearbook. The course I took was photojournalism, thus I will be focusing on my experience within that class.
The photojournalism class was led by three world-class photojournalism educators — Mark Murray, Mike Simmons, and Margie Raper. On day one, we were given a mission: create an individual and group photo story to capture an experience of someone in Philly. The prompt was left wide open, but most eyes turned to Reading Terminal Market. Right across the street, it was a prime location to find and capture the fascinating stories of employees and business owners inside the market. Reading Terminal Market is a bustling market filled with over 75 restaurants and other businesses. Our group decided to tell the story of hidden dreams among employees working in Reading Terminal. We each focused on a different employee at different shops. We interviewed them and took pictures of them in their natural environment doing their job. Getting hands-on, real-world experience in journalism taught us more than any class could. We met incredible people and learned stories that you would never know just by looking. We met a man whose dream was to be a spy and multiple people who longed to be writers.
Day two was not just the hands-on experience, but also learning how to improve our skills in shooting and editing. I learned the importance of utilizing light in your photographs, and how when in the field, you have to stop thinking and just do it! One of the most interesting things I learned was that when photographing events, taking pictures of the reaction rather than the action can tell the story of an event even better. As a photojournalist and a photographer working to better how I capture stories, I learned that each photo must tell its own story to progress what you are trying to convey overall.
Day two ended with a few big takeaways. We learned that our process of editing and shooting photos was incredibly inefficient and we immediately began to revise. Already, we have plans to teach the rest of the yearbook staff how we wish the future of editing, shooting, and designing should be. We learned that using Adobe Bridge instead of Lightroom may be a more efficient approach to editing and that captions on photos should be our main priority for the upcoming year.
We left the convention center that night with big ideas and looking forward to what was to come. The first day was incredibly informative and we met even more people from even more locations across the country. As a group, we realized that our little corner of the world is only a small part of a web of media organizations dedicated to the same things as us.
Day three began around 8:20 am. We arrived back at the convention center with wide eyes and open brains ready to learn even more. In photojournalism class, we began the day with the importance of light in photography. We talked about how to utilize light in our photography by diffusing it and moving around to capture just the right amount. The group then split up into two groups, one to go over caption writing, and another to focus even more in-depth on the light. After coming back together, we met with our photo story groups and began to edit and caption our photos. It is important to know as photographers and photojournalists that shooting the photo is not the end of the process. It took an hour to edit and caption our photos to tell a clear and coherent story that would completely capture the experiences of these employees. After countless edits and re-edits, we finished and submitted our photo stories to Mark, Mike, and Margie.
Our team then met back together to participate in a yearbook critique. The critic took about 45 minutes, and we discussed how to make our yearbook better and some things that we as a team should focus on. Our big takeaways were that we need to caption our photos, and that blank space, if utilized well, can help to declutter pages and modernize our yearbook. We realized that our yearbook used too many colors, and became, at times, distracting to the eye. One big thing I learned is that color should be used to highlight, and should not take up everything. We also realized that our yearbook takes a “cheerleader” approach to telling stories. This means that we only tell positive stories, which does not capture the full story of the year. We agreed that in the future, to capture everything, telling honest stories was a must.
After an extremely informative critique, we split back into our respective classes. In the afternoon, photojournalism spent time looking at the entire class’s photo stories and critiquing them. It was an educational critique spent looking in-depth at angles, light, aperture, focus, and countless other photography skills. As we went from story to story, I realized how many stories there are to tell. Each day, 35-40 thousand people enter Reading Terminal Market, each with an extraordinary story to tell, and it is our job to get their untold stories out to the world. Looking at these talented photographers alongside me, I realized photography holds so much power. If I took anything away from this experience, it is that being able to capture emotion in a photo holds more power than a thousand words.
The third day ended with the awards ceremony. Countless awards were given out to incredible photographers, digital artists, cartoon designers, yearbook designers, and newspaper staff. Near the end of the awards ceremony, our group erupted when the Haven yearbook placed tenth in the “Best in Show” category. I felt so much pride in our work last year, and so much hope to know that it was just the beginning for us.
Marin Lent '22
Going into NHSJC on Friday, I was terrified.
Ms. Plows informed me that I was going to be by myself in my yearbook training, while my other friends were together in the other training sessions.
This is my second year on the yearbook staff and I have the privilege of being one of the editors-in-chief this year. I vividly remember Ms. Plows asking me at my cheerleading team photoshoot last year to join the yearbook. Thinking back, I am so unbelievably grateful that she asked me that day. Yearbook practically saved my life while I was struggling with my mental health during the pandemic, and I didn’t realize at the time how important it would actually be to me.
The opportunity of going to this convention in Philadelphia is something that I’ll never forget. I was very anxious at our team meeting before we entered into our training Friday morning. Everyone else had already left and Ms.Plows was helping me set up my computer. I told her that I was practically shaking in fear, and she responded with a few words that calmed me down right away.
“You can do it Marin.”
The constant support that I get from Ms.Plows is the reason that I stay on the yearbook staff. She always makes sure that my team and I feel completely comfortable in taking risks like this convention.
I sat in the first row right in front of my instructors. As the teams of different yearbook staff started piling in, I told myself to get out of my comfort zone and be confident. I turned around and introduced myself to a group of kids that came all the way from Sacramento, California to be there. They were so kind to me and helped me throughout the two days with the spread I was working on. I also met a girl from Washington, who ended up becoming a good friend of mine after this weekend.
The yearbook training that I took taught me so much about design that I never knew before. I learned about writing subheadings, how to create sidebars, and all about making our yearbook look more visually appealing. Yes, Unprecedented was an amazing first step at creating a yearbook that was “professional,” but this year’s book is going to be ten times better. My team and I are taking back so many amazing ideas that are going to aid in the advancement of our professionalism in the upcoming yearbook.
Not only did this convention teach me so many new things, it also brought me closer to my team. We all had so much fun taking the train into Philadelphia together and browsing around Reading Terminal for lunch. It takes the effort of everyone on our staff to create a beautiful book, and I think this experience helped us all learn about teamwork.
My final thoughts about the NHSJC: I love journalism. I love the way it gets me out of my comfort zone. I love the rush of interacting with new people and learning about the stories they tell. I have decided I may be changing my original major that I applied to colleges for, athletic training, to journalism. Without the experience of this convention, I wouldn’t have been pushed into the direction of figuring out my true passion for journalism.
I would like to thank Ms. Plows and Strath Haven for letting me have this amazing opportunity. Finally, I would like to thank my team that came along with me. I think we truly bonded and I can’t wait to see our ideas be brought back to our yearbook.
Kai Lincke '22
Well, we did it. We got 10th place at a national journalism convention for our yearbook! Maybe out of ten entered yearbooks. But still— It’s a step in the right direction.
This whole weekend has been crazy! It’s a blur. I’m pretty physically and mentally exhausted, and still worried about that math test, but I am really glad I came. I’ve grown so much in the past three days (how has it only been three days?!).
It was such a beautiful environment and I’m so grateful that I got to experience it. The space was filled with students and staff of all ages, from wide-eyed freshmen to veterans with decades of publication experience, all united by the same thing: a love for stories.
I’ve never been in such an eager, welcoming place. When I talk about stories with my staffs, both groups look at me like I’m a little crazy — and maybe I am. I have a deep love for storytelling, and it’s hard for a lot of people to understand the amount of passion that I have. In this group, I didn’t get any vacant expressions or furrowed brows. My enthusiasm was met and matched by everyone there. These people get it, and they got me. I left feeling right at home.
It was really cool to see the other yearbookers start to fall for journalism too. I can see it in their faces — they get it now. They understand why stories are so important. My staff and I are returning to the media lab hungry for growth. We have so many ideas and are so genuinely excited to execute them.
I think we’re all closer too. We’re not a staff of 61 (hi Mike), but we’re almost as passionate as a staff of 61. No, we’re more passionate. We’re gritty and determined, and that is more important than numbers could ever be.
I don’t feel discouraged about all of our shortcomings or work ahead. Some of these other staffs have peaked; they’re perfect, or as close as they can get. They’re well-oiled machines and there’s really nowhere left for them to go. We’re not there yet. We’re only just starting our trek. There’s so much room for us to grow, to learn, to push higher and higher towards the peak.
I know I won’t see us reach that level this year— and I don’t ever want to reach that level. Perfection is boring. We’re a scruffy, little, perfectly imperfect staff (yes, that is cliche but it’s so true!). The road ahead of us may be challenging, but it’s going to be one heck of a ride.
After this weekend, I think it’s safe to say: we’re all bananas about yearbook, and so excited to take this journey together.
Let’s get it suckers!
Noah Sacks '22
Ever done a project that had a surprising due date the next day? With people, you’ve never met? In a bustling city you hardly know? While eating lollipops?
Welcome to the NSPA Philadelphia Storytelling Workshop Videography and Broadcast master class, where you put together the fastest newscast ever to be made with strangers with one similar goal: to create video work.
Rewinding back before the actual filming happened, let’s start with how I got there. Train. 30 minutes; comparably faster than some of the other students, flying in from places like Texas and Washington. I would get to the hotel the very same morning I left both days, which is crazy to think about how other schools had to stay in the hotel overnight, although it wasn’t the worst place to be staying.
There’s a Marriott Hotel just across the Reading Terminal, a paradise for foodies and tourists. I went both days because of the surplus of options available. It was in a part of the city that had the Liberty Bell about half a mile away, which was perfect for any filming opportunities I needed. I got to be located where it wasn’t the outskirts, and it wasn’t the rougher parts of the area. Convention location: 10/10.
Being that I’ve never been to the NSPA convention, I also had no idea what was in store for me.
There was a lot in store.
There were over a dozen new faces in one room, all with different talents and personalities. Right as I’m just starting to memorize faces, our teacher walks in, Michelle Coro. We spent the first hour talking about who she was and quite possibly one of the best analogies I’ve ever participated in. Using lollipops, she gave us three each in total, and separately the three were from different brands. The objective was that we would taste each of them, and then give unique sensory descriptions for them. The analogy was that even though they are different in some way, they were still lollipops. I learned about the worth of other people and three lollipops. That’s a great analogy if I’ve ever heard one.
Oh yeah, then there was the filming.
Within the first two hours, we found out that the mission for a film was to be completed… within 24 hours. The game was on. We had split up the room into groups of two or three to get as many local stories as possible in the city to create a newscast.
What a rush! The plan to create a goal within the smaller team to make sure it wasn’t similar to anyone else’s, then to go out into the world and find a story within that goal’s guidelines. It really did feel like going out into the world too, because we just had to be back in time to start editing, so we could go as far as our legs could take us for the footage we needed, hence the Liberty Bell.
After going to and fro collecting interviews from other tourists, my team and I got back in time to the hotel to get our editing done on time, without any setbacks or issues. It was quite frankly one of the smoother projects I’ve been on.
I learned from this project in particular that every moment happens once, so why not record it not just for history, but for yourself too.