Picture Story: Final Project

Well here we are folks. This is everything I’ve worked up for since coming to Mizzou. I’m on no sleep and jacked listening to Roky Erickson and done with my Capstone final project. Let’s just say I haven’t stopped thinking about school being over with all the hurdles and challenges I’ve come up with this project. Choosing to document someone with a mental illness was ambitious to begin with — surely it was for me. And I pull off-ed finding a subject. I felt lucky to have found someone who can relate with wanting accurate accounts of mental illness to be heard. Though, as I began photographing I soon realized that this just can’t be a story on bipolar disorder. Tara, my subject, is a person who has her own unique story. I don’t think I fully realized what that story was until I was near the end of collecting media, though. Tara has bipolar disorder but making sure her kids are happy and healthy is her main concern. Having been subject matter I haven’t photographed before there we many challenges that confronted me as I was photographing and in post-production. This project has taught be valuable lessons in being honest with your subjects and not giving up on them when their behavior isn’t necessarily convenient for me. In addition piecing together a 3-5 minute narrative from nearly two hours of audio interview was another challenge. I now know I can type a lot faster than what I though before. Though I think I wish I had more variety of environments, interactions and expressions with this project but I had to remember people are the way they are and you can’t try and search for more if it’s not there. Is this the quality of work that I thought I would be producing at the beginning of the semester? Somewhat I think, though I we typically set our standards much higher when starting a class. Halfway through putting this project together I thought I was going to lose hope with it. I believe it’s now of at least acceptable quality. Despite that, I can proudly say that I think it distinctly looks it has my photographic vision in it, which is what we all want right?

Anyway, I’m gonna get some sleep. Thanks again Tara Bailey for letting me into your life. Now here’s the video!

4 thoughts on “Picture Story: Final Project

  1. Nick,
    Your piece is fantastic. Tackling a subject like Bi-Polar is a tough one. It’s hard to show the subtleties of the illness, the highs, the lows and the every day but you did a nice job. The use of the movement in the car is fantastic, it relates a very difficult part of bi-polar, which I’m sure Tara may have related to you, the mind constantly moving especially during the manic moments.
    It’s amazing how a story evolves and I’m glad you got experience it and get in and tell a deeper story. You looked beyond your perceptions and pulled a real person through. I’m proud of you. All around good story telling. You have a bright future my friend. Can’t wait to see where you go. 🙂
    If you find yourself out west here, hit me up.


  2. Seth,

    Thanks a million for your inspiring and kind words. It was definitely the toughest project I’ve done so far at Mizzou, but it was also the most important project I’ve done as well. I’m just glad I can actually produce something like this. Definitely something for me to remember. I might do some traveling perhaps next summer. If I’m out that way I’ll let you know.

    Word up,


  3. Nick,
    This was indeed a challenging choice of subject matter and by using all the tools at your disposal – audio and video as well as stills you managed to tell a compelling, yet human story. Tara comes across as a real person – a loving mother – someone people can relate to and care about. You might have set out to show mental illness, but in the end you have a story about a human being with a mental illness – much better. In doing this project, you have gained some essential knowledge that any photojournalist worth his or her salt has to have: that the story is the person’s to tell, and that you are the vehicle through which it can be told. The story is something to be discovered in relationship to the subject and I am pleased that you got to it even if full understanding came too close to the project deadline for you tell it with the visual sophistication that you and I both expect of your projects. The touch of the son’s hand is a wonderful moment and when combined with the sound bite about dealing with her demons for his sake, makes for a strong close. I might have gone to the dark screen just a little sooner after it and let the viewer just listen to the sounds of their voices. You did that, but it feels like the last scene of them sitting on the couch lasts a bit too long. So yes, there are things that could be tweaked to make the piece better, (still struggling a bit with that motivated pan in the office) but you should be pleased with what you were able to do in the limited time you had to actually shoot. I admire your tenacity in staying with the hunt for a subject on this one, it consumed most of your 30 days on this project. I know you wanted a piece with great still images and compelling action or emotion packed video, but this is a slow moving story about what goes on inside someone’s mind, so it would have taken repeated visits spread out over a longer time period to get the kind of storytelling still imagery and video footage you would have liked. This was a slower and harder to piece together story but it is a real story that demonstrates not only your skills but also your compassion. Kudos. Rita

  4. Pingback: smiling after winning an NPPA award. « Nick Schnelle is currently:

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