Dean O'Brien's Blog

Coventry Conversations: Jon Snow talk today at Coventry University

with 6 comments

Today I was honoured with the task of spending the morning photographing Jon Snow for Coventry University.  Journalist, presenter and probably better known by most for presenting Channel 4 news.  Jon is no stranger to Coventry or the University so I know that it feels like a home from home for him.  In fact this will be his fourth Coventry Conversation at the University.  The conversation was interesting and very upbeat with plenty of banter between John Mair and Jon Snow.  I always believe that these kind of talks are the best.  People feel more relaxed and are more likely to interact with the speaker.  Although I know that this talk was targeted at media students it really would have benefitted the photography students as well.  Our BA photography course is very documentary based and much of what Jon Snow talked about would have been of great interest to us.  The use of mixed media and the power of social networking are subjects which regularly arise in our group discussions.

The talk which Jon gave was very relevant to the photography course which I am doing at the moment.  He spoke about how news reporting is changing so much.  Photographers are now videoing as well as taking still images.  News is no longer a monopoly for TV channels.  The recent events in Haiti and Bangkok show that images and news sent via twitter seem to spread as quick as any ‘news flash’ in the past.  In fact, its not unusual to see news programmes broadcasting images sent in via twitter from members of the public.  Countries can no longer restrict what information we choose to distribute or receive.  Yes, we are all reporters and photographers.

Whilst on the subject of mixed media I took the opportunity to film two HD clips using my SLR.  Not as easy as you think.  Two major problems are the weight of the camera on the wrists as it has to be held away from your face as you have to look at the LCD screen top see what you are filming.  The second being that you need to manually focus on your subject.  As you are not looking through the viewfinder and relying on the screen on the rear of the camera this can be a real ‘hit and miss’ affair.  However,  you can produce some proper looking movies with practice and the shallow depth of field really does give it that pro look.

During this shoot I learnt that preparation was everything.  I organised my time well by arriving early and ensuring that I had the right equipment with me.  I floated around in the background trying not to get in the way which I did very well!  I managed to Coventry Cathedral in the background of some of the shots.  It gives the images a strong association with Coventry and its heritage.  The helps to identify the subject with his surroundings in the image.

I’m proud to be a student at Coventry and even more proud to be given the chance to take part in shoots such as this.  Jon took the time to speak to everyone individually afterwards and pose for those who wanted more permanent reminders of the talk.  Below are just a few examples of the images which I took today.


Written by Dean O'Brien

May 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Nice one Dean.

    Looks like you had a very proactive and productive day.


    Rick Medlock

    May 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm

  2. Yes Rick was very interesting. As with all of these talks, I came away with inspiration to crack on with my work and put some projects into action.

    Dean O'Brien

    May 27, 2010 at 9:06 pm

  3. Great stuff Dean.

    JM spoke very highly of you, I think you may have made yourself an opportunity to build a folio of high profile people. We need to work out a photographic ‘device’ so that these pictures all sit together in one collection in the future – the pressures on you to pull something out of the bag without dedicated portrait session time are substantial.

    If you want to put heads together let me know.


    Jonathan Worth

    May 28, 2010 at 7:14 am

    • Thanks for the comment, it was a great experience.

      Yes I will see you on Thursday and see if we can have a chat about taking this further in a more positive direction rather than it just being a one-off.

      Much appreciated

      Dean O'Brien

      May 28, 2010 at 8:08 am

  4. Did your talk with Jonathon Worth go anywhere?
    I hope so!

    Chris Alford

    January 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

  5. Yes I am now taking images at the #phonar talks of the guest speakers. Jonathan gave me some good, genuine advice. I take it all on board.

    Dean O'Brien

    January 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm

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