Join Richard Koci Hernandez for an in-depth discussion in this video Richard Koci Hernandez, Multimedia Journalist, part of Creative Inspirations: Richard Koci Hernandez, Multimedia Journalist.
- View Offline
(Music playing.) Richard: Telling a story, for me, is breathing. It doesn't matter how I do it, if it's in motion graphics, if it's a picture, if it's a piece of video--whatever it is.
(Music playing.) The foundation is story and storytelling. That's never going to change. Since they who have been putting pictures on cave walls, it's the story; that's what's most important. (Music playing.) There is a need in me to take pictures.
When I have a camera in my hands, my head and I hope my heart are connecting in a way that says, "Press that button, press that button," and I do, and it feels amazing. (Music playing.) It's the art, for me, of discovery. I love to discover: new things, new places, new people.
It's just that. It's like, what could it be, what could it be? What's around that corner? Oh my gosh, look at that. Oh, look at that! Click. Boom. Move on, and just keep over and over and over and over again. (Music playing.) (Music playing.) Richard: Oh boy, nice and quiet.
Tavio and Hadley. Richard: Good morning! Female Speaker 1: Good morning! Richard: Hello! Good morning Lydia! Lydia: How are you? Richard: Good! How are you? Lydia: Good! Richard: Oh! We had the old league. This is closer to really, really what we are going for. Lydia: And this means from the latest? Richard: Yeah. It's basically all the-- it's the same structure we've always had. Lydia: Mhm. Richard: So we can break this up. This can be the blogs. You can have a feed here. Richard: You can have an--you can have two different elements here. Lydia: Mhm. Richard: It will show comments associated.
Richard: So if you click, it will show all their stories. Lydia: Oh, that's great! Richard: And if they put in their Richard: Twitter, it will show that they twittered, Lydia: Oh, that's excellent! Richard: and we can kind of add in something. Lydia: Wow! It's cool! Very cool! Richard: I think it's so much cleaner. Lydia: I do too. Lydia: Yeah, because they want it-- Richard: And there is a lot more. I got involved with Mission Loc@l before it was Mission Loc@l. There was no Mission Loc@l. The newspaper industry, especially in the Bay Area, has essentially collapsed. Reporters have been laid off. Coverage areas have shrinked just to the core.
And there are communities, like the Mission, like Richmond, California, like Oakland, California, who don't have anybody reporting for them anymore. So can we come in as a group of committed journalists and students who want to learn? And essentially, what this is is it's a little startup that's trying to cover the Mission District as a community with sound journalism, new ways of telling stories. We will try anything. And I think I'm happy to be here because those are a little bit of my roots.
We're all--I'm learning as I'm here. We are just running on the seat of our pants, putting this whole thing together. It's fun, it's exciting, and it's something new. (Male Speaker in video: --only to discover that she thinks she's a guardian of the galaxy.) Oh! Brilliant! Brilliant! (Male Speaker in video: I don't know. Clean it up.) (Female Speaker in video: I'm going to look at the possibilities.) Richard: Yes, I love it! Richard: Do you have the original version somewhere? Female Speaker 2: Yeah. Richard: Keep it. One, for me, now I know that I can be a little harsher and honest, and it's going to work in the end.
This is so much better than what it was. Female Speaker 3: I am trying to do this audio slideshow on a band. Richard: Yeah. Female Speaker 3: I am talking to them today, separately, some of the band members. Richard: Right. Female Speaker 3: But tomorrow I am going to be shooting their show. Richard: Okay, a live show? Female Speaker 3: Live show, really dark. Richard: Okay. Richard: Okay. Female Speaker 3: Any...What can I do? Richard: Is this what you are going to be using? Female Speaker 3: Mhm. Richard: What you are going to do for audio? Your audio slideshow is going to be about what, them as a band or just their performance? Female Speaker 3: It's why they are really good musicians who continue to just play the Mission week after week.
Richard: You guys are living the--be the black-and-white. I have noticed the front page--which is good though! It's a good choice. I love-- Male Speaker 1: Well, she only does black tattoo work, Male Speaker 1: so it's kind of natural. Richard: Super-smart. Richard: So you double-click on the clip. And then you go Effects. My passion is a new breed of journalist, a new breed of storyteller. My mission here at Mission Loc@l is to really create that kind of entrepreneurial storyteller who is not afraid to try anything, who knows that the rug will be pulled out from underneath their feet every five years.
The tools will change, the way we do things change, the way we deliver things will change, and that that doesn't scare them. I don't care if you use an app on your iPhone to take a picture or you use film and you spent five hours in the darkroom to get this print; all it boils down to is really the story, the story of my life and the story I am trying to tell of other people's lives. And if I can be that little bug in the students' ears to keep reminding them about that, then I think I will have fit in well here and done a decent job at the end of the day.
(Music playing.) Richard: Being in a house full of women, there were men there, but they weren't influential in any way.
It was the woman--my grandmother, my mother--who really, really raised me. The one father figure that was around was an uncle, Uncle David, and he brought us here to Yosemite when I was 12 years old, and I haven't been back since. (Music playing.) This is the birthplace of my visual career.
I mean this is--everything that I am right now as a photographer and as a visual storyteller started right here. I mean this is it, and it was powerful when I was 12. It's even more powerful now at 40. I have my routes in my left hand and the future in my right hand.
I mean there is still magic in this. I can't see anything. I have to wait. I have to develop the film. I love technology. This is fantastic! (Music playing.) Uncle David brought me out here, and we just kind of started stumbling around and coming to the village to kind of have ice cream and just keep ourselves occupied, and eventually we land here at the Ansel Adams gallery.
We are just kind of stumbled upon it. Half Dome is Yosemite, and Half Dome is the icon of this place, and while we were here, that's what we were looking at all the time. And then to walk in here and to see this picture of it was so powerful, and to know that I could walk right outside and do, potentially--what did I know? I was 12-- potentially do the same thing was extremely powerful.
I mean, I left this building, and I just grabbed the camera off my uncle's shoulder, and it was game on. It was--I wanted to do this. This is it. This is the camera. This is the G Yashica, the Electro 35. This is the camera that I pulled off my uncle's shoulder. I mean this is the slide. This is the remaining piece.
This is part of that first roll. It's the only surviving image, and it's a picture taken right about here of Half Dome. And I brought it because I really want to be able to take a picture of it with this camera, right around the spot where I was. I wonder if things have changed, but this is pretty darn close. The light was different, but this is pretty awesome. I am going to focus here. Right there.
That's it. His picture of Half Dome isn't about Half Dome. It's about, to me, what Ansel brought to the table. And it's about what's really behind the photograph. It's the unspeakable. It's really what it is to me. Great photography and great photographs are--which Ansel's are--you look at them and you feel something. You don't say something.
You really feel something. And I was really fortunate that that feeling came to me when I was 12, and it's still kind of with me today. I mean this is like breathing, man, just to do this. I mean, you have no idea how excited I was to be able to just to bring this out and just to do that. That was just pretty powerful for me. (Music playing.) Richard: When I got home from Yosemite, my day-to-day life changed in a way.
I always had a camera in my hand. That's how it changed. Always. I mean there is a picture here, and there is me with a camera. At that point in my life--12, 13, 14--I was in middle school and getting ready to go to high school, and life was fairly crazy at home, and I was able to have the opportunity to go--oh gosh, there's my yearbook--to the seminary, which was when I was 14. Yeah, 14. I left home to go to Queen of Angels Catholic, all boys, sleepover seminary, don't have to go home on the weekends if you don't want to, and carried that--I mean, I found a place.
I found a home there because of photography. I became like this photo nerd. In fact, of course here it is, flip right to it. Editor of photography, Richard Hernandez. And look, surrounded by cameras in high school. So I go from 12, pulling a camera off the shoulders of my uncle, never letting go, right to shooting pictures of family, right into high school, right into cameras all over again. It's amazing, as I look at this, my future was probably very much wrapped in the idea of being a priest, believe it or not, and I took a break from the seminary.
And I was really, didn't know what I was going to do, and the only thing I knew, the only thing I was certain that I could do that I knew was photography. I said, oh! I can work at a camera shop. I can sell these things, I know that. I can sell film and paper and cameras. So I went to work at a camera shop, selling cameras and film, and developing film and whatnot. And there was a friend there, somebody that turned into a really close friend, and I don't know what got into us.
We just said, "I'll be the first one to work at the Star Free Press." He was like, "No, you won't. I will!" and we were like, "Okay, game on!" And that night I drove to RadioShack and bought a scanner because I thought the Star Free Press, the local newspaper, if you wanted to be a photographer there, you shot pictures of accident. That's what I thought it was all about. So that's what I started doing. I had a scanner. Probably around this time I'm sure that it's so old, it doesn't turn on.
I got so good at this. I rolled on every lame fire, every accident in Ventura County that you could possibly imagine. This is what I thought photojournalism was. This is what I did to basically win this bet to be the first one to get a job at the Star Free Press. Listening to the scanners, sleeping with the scanner on. This obsessiveness with a camera, it paid off for me in a way I never thought it would.
In the middle of the night, the scanner went off. It was drizzling, and I picked up my camera, took my scanner, went there to put more images in my collection, I suppose, and win the bet. And this guy looked at me, and he looked, and he kept looking, and he was like--he knew he was the only one that should be there. He was the official photographer for the Star Free Press. He knew he was the only photographer that should be there, right, and he was like, who is this other person? There's no other paper in town, absolutely. Who is this person? Should not be here.
And he came up, and he said, "What are you doing here?" And I said, "Well, I am just taking pictures, and I don't really know what I'm doing. I am taking pictures, trying to win a bet." And he pulled out his business card and he gave me his business card. He said, "You know, you're out here, risking your own equipment, getting wet at three in the morning to take pictures." He said, "I want you to give me a call tomorrow," and it happened to be the Director of Photography at the Star Free Press at the time, and I went in the next day with a portfolio of this: proof sheets.
And I just thought this was going to be my ticket in. I was going to win the bet. And he looked at me and politely put everything aside, clearly not impressed with all the work I had done, but was able to offer me, right then and there, a job mixing chemistry, basically what we might call tech support now for the photographers, and that's how I started. That was my--the next day I came in to work, and so I made--I was able to make a fairly seamless jump from the seminary and this life, and photography took me kind of over that bridge one more time, and it brought me to a place that is really my roots are at the Star Free Press in terms of journalism.
And I think that's really where I started thinking about journalism and photojournalism, and probably really felt then that that was going to be my calling, that I was switching from one to another. So that was pretty pivotal, and photography was there again to bring me through that. (Music playing.) Really though, there is nothing like this smell, absolutely nothing like this smell in here in the dark.
I mean this is the other birthplace. I spent so much time in the darkroom, it's unbelievable. I mean, I started here, mixing chemistry and being taught how to do all this stuff. I mean, this is amazing, isn't it? I mean the hours I spent here doing this stuff is outrageous. There is a red light here. This is a darkroom like any other darkroom. This is the Ventura Star darkroom. It's every other darkroom I have made in my house and everywhere else.
I mean this is really the roots of where it all began. This is where I learned everything, the magic and discovery of watching something develop in a tray. It's a lot more hands-on too, which was amazing. And quietly I come back here, and I still print and I still work and develop film and keep a little bit of that going because it's really so important. There is really nothing like it. In a real importance sense, I'm sad that this will eventually be gone.
I'm lucky that darkrooms still exist, that I can sneak into a darkroom and do some of this, because it's my beginnings, but because I still think it's very important stuff to do. (Music playing.) Ventura County Star Free Press on Ralston Street, sincerely Gary Phelps, said this-- hopefully this is not embarrassing.
"I hired Richard Hernandez one year ago, and in that time, he has proven to be a young outstanding shooter. At the age of 21, he has shown natural talent, and I believe he will go far in photojournalism. Unfortunately, I will be losing Richard to San Francisco State University, where he will further his career. Upon his graduation, I hope to rehire him." I have no idea why he wrote this letter, or what this is for. But I got to San Francisco State, and I think I was still a bit fresh, kind of out of the seminary, kind of free, and I was in San Francisco.
And a friend and I just sat down and had coffee, and I don't know what got into us, but we decided then and there, before the semester even started, we'd paid for our books, our tuition, our housing. All of those two years I worked at the Star Free Press to get myself to San Francisco State, to continue my education in photography, and I threw it all away. We said, "We are leaving. We are going to go. We are going to leave. Forget school." We turned our books back, our housing money back, everything we got, like 80% of the money back.
And we bought one-way tickets, one-way tickets to Mexico City, and we landed in Mexico. I can't even tell you why. We just we wanted to go take pictures. I wanted to just walk the earth with my camera, and it was very naive and very immature of me, but that's what I wanted to do. At that point of my life, that's what I just felt I wanted to do. And I had a friend who wanted to do that with me too. So we landed in Mexico City, and we flipped a coin, whether we were going to go north or we were going to go south.
And it came up tails, and it was south, and we headed south. We got on a train, and we took a journey that took us months and months of--all the way through Mexico and all the way through Central America. We turned around and came back. Mexico and the Central America trip was so different, yet there was something that coincided that made it so familiar. I happened to be in Central America, in Guatemala specifically, during Easter Holy Week, which as a Catholic I knew everything about.
I had just left that life. I don't know. There is so much of me in this picture when I look back now. I mean this is a picture that I would have never thought I could pull off at the Star Free Press. And somehow, being in another country, in another frame of mind--it's dark, it's gloomy, it's mysterious, you don't quite know what's going on, it's spiritual, it's ambiguous. Those are all of the things that are, as I've matured as a photographer, are part of what I'm going for.
They are part of my style, what I bring to my work. And it's very powerful for me to sit down now and look at pictures I took at the very beginning of my career, and see that there. The ingredient that came into the mix that really helped me was a little bit of studying of the people that came before me. When I was 12, I never thought to look more at Ansel Adams.
I never thought to look more. I never thought that there were people who had taken pictures before me. I was the first person on earth to discover this and fall in love with this whole idea. So I began to study people. I began to know who W. Eugene Smith was and who Robert Frank was and Leonard Freed, and all of these people who I began to kind of admire and try and emulate, or learn from in some sense. And I think that that's what I was doing here, looking at pictures and composition, and reading a little bit about Walker Evans changed my life--that he would shoot surreptitiously on the subway.
And I thought, every time I pull up the camera to somebody's face in Mexico, or Central America, they all want to look at me. They all want to stop doing what they are doing, but what if you just did this little surreptitious thing. This idea of street photography, and I was in a place where the streets are the most vibrant thing in the world. And here I was, there. I mean, I remember this picture is directly after I learned about what Walker Evans did, and the idea of shooting from the hip, and how you could do that.
What possessed--I almost wouldn't even take this picture now. I mean these guys look like they would kick my butt. I mean these are mechanics. They are all greasy. Two of them look like practically children, and this guy looks like a tank. I mean why I felt I had the right to go up to these guys in another country and shoot pictures of them, I don't know. But I did, I did it surreptitiously. And I just shot a few from the hip. I got this picture and a series of other pictures. I eventually brought it up to my face, and I remember. I will look at this proof sheet.
You can tell when I brought it up to my face, because they all moved, and there was not this body language. So for me it was a nice convergence of studying the greats and learning about the greats, and realizing that I wanted to shoot with more intent and more intention. Coming to San Francisco, especially the Mission District, was an amazing experience for me after living my life in Southern California in a little town.
But I had just come from Latin America, so it was foreign, but at the same time it was familiar. But the Mission District especially is amazing. There is nothing like it. I mean, the most amazing thing about being in this neighborhood, especially just walking in the Mission, is the idea of, there is like little stuff everywhere. This is such a visually rich community and place.
I just love it. It really feeds into my need to capture it all. Oh, this is great. I love this. Hold on. You wait long enough and somebody passes through your frame, which is great. It's really just an impulse about what appeals to me. There is so much here. It could be anything, but I just kind of go with my gut.
We all have that inclination when we have a camera to take a picture, and all I did was learn the idea not to resist that. Every time my finger wants to press the trigger for whatever reason, I don't question it. I just do it. Oh, it's great! Traveling in Latin America was really what started my passion for street photography, for this, for like what I kind of call "the hunt." And to be able to come here and do it and feel it is amazing, but that's certainly where it started.
Hunt, hunt, hunting, right? Like HUNT'S Quality. How many times does that happen? To me street photography is about instinct, reacting quickly, not having to think about a lot of factors. This little camera, this basically little point-and-shoot does that for me. The other thing that's important for me, like I just took a picture there, and I really feel like I have possibly captured that person in a real situation.
I think had I brought the camera up to my face and taken some time to do some things, she would have not been as natural. I am ridiculously, stupidly passionate about taking pictures. It's really liberating for me. Oh, this is nice.
Right, I mean that is a sweet little moment, two people waiting for the bus up against the wall. They are just--I don't know I love that. I love that. This is just the art of discovery, right. That's all good storytelling really is in anyway: making a reader or a viewer feel like they've discovered something for the first time the way I discovered it. It's just, it's little tiny silly things, like maybe that.
(Music playing.) My time at the San Jose Mercury News started as an intern. After my internship was up, the timing was right, and they had a full-time temporary position.
And I was like, I am on it. This is perfect. I'll stay. There was something going on around me that interested me and fortunately didn't really interest any of the other photographers. I was beginning to get these kind of business assignments. And on the face of them, they weren't very glamorous. They weren't very exciting, and oftentimes I found myself laughing at this assignment. What's the name of this company? I can't even pronounce it. Google or whatever it was, and we would go, and it would be nothing.
This was the thought of Google in a very small, a very small office they could fit all of their employees in. And to photograph that and come back, and it was an assignment. No big deal. We did it. We put it in the Merc. We moved onto the next one. You walk into a little silly place called Yahoo! and people were sleeping under desks in sleeping bags or whatever. They weren't on the radar, but their exposure in the Merc and everything they were doing--the valley was just changing.
And it was fun to be there at the time. And I got to once walk into Google where it was a handful of people and then go back to this ultimate campus that sprawled several cities, more or less. It was a really, really amazing experience. Nothing is ever just one person. So I had somebody at the Mercury News, his name was Dai Sugano. And Dai came and worked with the Mercury News right about the same time all of these wonderful things were happening in the valley, and I was covering the boom and had all this energy, and we just started talking about, what could we do? What could we learn.
How could we kind of up our game, and try new storytelling and all these kind of things. And it was at that point that we kind of conceived this idea of kind of making our own kind of school, learning on our own. Well, let's just teach ourselves these things. We'll just stay after work, and we'll just---we'll learn Dreamweaver, and we'll learn Flash. We'll learn all the technologies that could possibly help us tell stories better, and let's just do it. And then at the end of it, it was like, now what do we do with all of this stuff? We know this stuff. We taught ourselves this stuff, but now what do we do? For us, it was about creating a showcase for not only ourselves, but for the photographic staff of the Mercury News, to showcase their stories and our stories that we were telling that were in print but weren't being served well in print.
At that time, the newspaper, the pages in newspapers were shrinking. There wasn't enough room in the paper for three or four good pictures; there was just one picture. And people were telling amazing stories. So the web was this wonderful thing. It had infinite amount of space. We could put infinite amount of pictures and audio. So we did. What we did, what myself--and when I say we, and I say it all the time, because we really are that team; it's probably closer to Laurel and Hardy than like any other Hewlett & Packard--but we created what was MercuryNewsPhoto.com, which it wasn't an easy thing to do build, and it wasn't an easy thing to sell to, at that time, the San Jose Mercury News as a viable way to present content.
(Inaudible speech.) (Female Speaker 4: I wanted to take my kids to New York. I didn't want them to be on a plane.) (Female Speaker 4: And for all they knew, they could be in Santa Rosa, you know.) (Female Speaker 5: For 500 years, scores of India's widows have been flocking to holy places like (Female Speaker 5: this one, Vrindivan, the so-called City of Widows.) (Female Speaker 5: Upon a husband's death, many widows find themselves--) (Female Speaker 6: Critical Mass. (Female Speaker 6: It's the best, like, movement of solidarity within bicyclists.
(Female Speaker 6: It's awesome. You get to see all your friends that rides bikes.) (Female Speaker 6: And you get to claim the streets for once. Because usually we're not, we're not in charge on the streets.) Mercury News Photo became a great place for our photographers to tell stories that had breath and could breathe, and you could tell them longer, and you can get into them deeper, and you could show more pictures, and you could hear the voices of the people whose stories you were trying to tell. The power of storytelling in that form was really, really, really, really a powerful, a powerful thing.
Dai Sugano found a story from the newspaper, a daily story, where we had gone out and shot one picture from this story. It was about a mobile home park that was closing. And it was just one picture and a story. Powerful story, powerful picture. And he said, "There is something more here. I want to do something more. There is more of a story here." We launched a project which is called Uprooted about this mobile home closing down and the story of the people, not only how it affected them on a daily basis but how it affected them kind of in the long term.
We were able to do that because we had more time to spend with them, and we also had--we knew we had a home for this story. (Video playing.) (Video playing.) (Music playing.) At this time there is video. Still some video. There is some music.
All of these things were-- (Female Speaker 7: This would've been my home for 26 years. (Female Speaker 7: And I anticipate to live in here til I die.) That, to me, that is powerful, to be able to hear this woman's voice as part of this story being told through audio, video, stills, all together. We are here in the first one minute, and we are kind of trying to use, to the best of our ability, all of these things together. (Female Speaker 5: When we moved into this mobile home we thought we were going to stay here until the kids--) We are jumping around in time.
We are doing a lot of things that I mean, traditional cinema has been doing it for a long time, but not photojournalism and not particularly traditional news. There is no narrator. There is no "we're at the home of so-and-so and so-and-so." We wanted to see if we could let the story and the people tell their story, which is really what we were going for.
I mean, it's a saga. I mean, learning to cut to particular pieces of music. Why I am excited? We didn't go in our film school for this, we didn't read a book on this; we were figuring this out for ourselves because we wanted to. (Matt Frei: The nominees for new approaches to news and documentary programming documentaries are as follows.) (Male Speaker 2: The ethnic balance of Russia--) (Male Speaker 3: From Russian with Hate, A Vanguard Special Report.) (Male Speaker 4: I never support the immigrants.) (Male Speaker 5: A year ago in Afghanistan.) (Male Speaker 3: Afghanistan: The Other War. FRONTLINT/World.) (Male Speaker 6: Prongs are on the host. That's where we were shooting from yesterday.) (Female Speaker 7: This has been my home for 26 years, and I) (Male Speaker 3: Uprooted, Mercurynews.com, the San Jose Mercury News.) (Female Speaker 7: I anticipate to live in here 'til I die.) (Matt: So, the winner, that's what we're interested in. Mercurynews.com Uprooted!) (Applause.) (Dai Sugano: Thank you very much.) (Applause.) (Dai: Thank you. I just want to thank--) (Laughter.) (Dai: I just want to thank my Director of Photography, Geri Migielicz, and colleague) (Dai: and good friend, Richard Koci Hernandez, and reporter Julie Patel who worked on this project with me.) I used to think actors get up and they go, "I am just honored to be nominated." And you are like yeah, yeah! You really want to win.
It's like no, no when you're nominated, and you are nominated next to Frontline and PBS and CNN, and you're nominated within the News category of the Emmys, News and Documentary, it's flattering, and it is wonderful just to be honored. And we went there, and we thought, "Come on. We are competing against a PBS Frontline documentary with a name like 'From Russia with Hate' and a wonderful piece by--about the Marlboro Marine, about a marine in Afghanistan and all of these heavy-duty things and here we are, that little engine that could, the little story about some people who were evicted from a trailer park in Sunnyvale, California." We were really obsessed with, how could we tell stories better? It really was. We wanted to tell stories better.
And all of a sudden, the Internet gave us the opportunity to tell them with audio and tell them with video and do all--and that's all we wanted to do. And we wanted to have a place, a home that we built, right, that we built, and we said, "Here are the stories. Let's put the stories there. The world can see them." And then we wanted to maybe be a very small part of an example to the industry in all those other photo departments and storytellers out there to go, yeah, we can have a home here, and we can tell our stories in this way, and maybe that this is the way you can do it.
After Uprooted, one of the exciting things that really happened was not only this idea of how storytelling could change for us; technology changed. I mean really, the web changed. It really emerged. Laptops got smaller, cheaper. Cameras, we were able to do things with technology that we weren't able to do before. For me, this time while newspapers were suffering, to me, was, and we still continue to be in, like this golden age of storytelling, and for us it was the beginning. It's right there. Uprooted moved right from that point.
Then we took technology that we were able to own and buy ourselves and sit in a cafe, sit outside, and produce something on a laptop. Where before this time you really couldn't do it. The point of entry was thousands and thousands of dollars and all this kind of equipment. But now I could sit on this laptop, connected to the Internet, decide I wanted to learn After Effects, and I have a question, boom, somebody answered. That was very, very powerful for me. There are people out there who have no idea that they're part of any success that I've had.
Any success I've had is not just me. It's some guy in the Netherlands at 2 am, or some woman in L.A. who decided to answer my question and help my story get this much better because I wanted to learn that technique. MultimediaShooter, the blog that I created, was a no-brainer. It's my passion. I love it. I love the idea of giving back. I love the idea of thinking that maybe there is a storyteller out there somewhere where I was who needs to know one thing about something they don't know, and maybe they'll find it on my blog.
I love to do tutorials on the blog. I love to do whatever I can to give. It's really kind of a simple thing. It's a give-back. I am going to start right here with the latest post on my blog, which is why you need to learn After Effects now. It's just a thought. It's just something that I'm putting out there for people to ponder, think about. But what I really do love is, as I go through this, I'll curate, I'll say, hey! Look at this kind of storytelling.
Look at what After Effects and motion graphics are doing to storytelling, how they are elevating storytelling. Look at these videos that I saw. Take a look at them. Then hey! Here's where you can go learn it. And I put that stuff out there. And then what's really valuable to me is you get in conversations like--that are on the blog right now. Here is a student always looking for new ways to make videos more memorable. I was definitely inspired. I love--and now all of a sudden there is this conversation between whoever this person is, wherever they are, about a new way of storytelling.
Right at the beginning, right when you see it, it's boom! It's text. It's text moving and flowing. Imagine your friend being tortured, killed, sexually assaulted, daughter, son, killed, boom, for their beliefs, ideas. All of these things are something that motion graphics and After Effects bring to this story--not a narrator, not a voice of God. I was fortunate enough to be involved with a project that wanted to look back at what had happened with the student protest after the elections in Iran.
And the story wasn't an immediate story. I couldn't go there. The story had already happened. I had all of these assets, but I wanted to create and be true to the power and truth of what happened there. And at that point, it was a wonderful convergence of knowing a tool now that I taught myself and putting it into practice, and that kind of culminated into this story that we called Interrupted Lives. (Music playing.) People are doing the most amazing creative things, and it always makes me think like, have we been this creative the whole time, I wonder.
Has that person always been that creative just sitting there on the other side of the world, and I'm only finding out about it? Or now, because of technology they can be creative and be expressive. I don't know. It's a wonderful time to be a storyteller, to be alive, to be--all the tools and access and potential that we have to tell a story, and anybody in the world has the potential to see it. Have we ever been able to do that? I don't think so. I don't think you can argue that a storyteller has had the potential to be that powerful.
(Music playing.) Richard: I got hired here at UC Berkeley to teach the things I taught myself, and so I am teaching new media. I am teaching video, multimedia storytelling, Final Cut, photography, a little HTML, a little CSS, a little bit of everything.
Teaching for me was never part of my plan or part of my life path that I saw ahead of me. I thought I would be a traditional storyteller all my life. I never thought I would stop and teach, but I cannot tell you how much I love teaching. It's unbelievable. This is what I love. This is right when you walk into the Graduate School of Journalism. What I love is a little bit of a mix of the old-school printed papers from around the world and then a screen actually of the sites that we are building here.
Why I got hired was to build these community sites, and teach the students all of this community journalism and multimedia that you're seeing here. So this is the first thing you see when you come into the school, which I love. The simple fact that somebody with my experience would land at a place like UC Berkeley at a graduate-level teaching position baffles me. Sometimes I wonder how I got here, and why am I uniquely qualified to do this, because it's not a traditional position.
People who traditionally teach at this level have Masters and they have done all this academic work, and I've just been in the trenches. But I learned that that's what they wanted, and that's what brought me here. My experience at the Mercury News and what I did by self-teaching myself all this technology and practicing that technology is what they were looking for. The one thing I think that you have to have now as go forward--and if you take this advice to heart and you really do it, you will thank me at the end of two years-- you need to begin to brand yourself.
You need to begin to think about who you are as a journalist and begin to put yourself out on the web. I'll show you a little-- so how WordPress.com in minutes--last night I did it. It took me 30 seconds to give my dog a WordPress blog. 30 seconds, okay. Create a small demo reel, a minute and a half, create a Vimeo page, put it on there. If you have a business card, point people to that. Everybody talks about that whole thing: if you can't do, you teach--which has got to be baloney because I did it.
I did a lot, and that's what I am doing now. I am teaching what I did, so I did, and now I am teaching it. So if I can not tell them what to do, but maybe show them how I did it or show them a way that someone else did it, maybe that's a good way of teaching. I am talking about something we don't teach here that's very foreign to us. It's called promoting yourself. It's called branding yourself. Style has no formula, but it has a secret key. It's the extension of your personality.
I say this too because it's not something you hear in journalism. We're not supposed to have personality. We're supposed to be these robots. I am just here for the facts; I have no opinion. I mean, but think about it. You want to have a visual style that's your own that you are recognized for that takes you above everyone else. How in the hell do you get that style? I have no idea, but I thought about something. Here is what I, what I get, dark, black and white. There is religious. There is some greediness. I scratched, eventually scratched the negative up and hand-colored it.
There is this kind of texture to it. It's been there since the beginning. Before I got employed, here's me at the Mercury News doing daily assignments on a train station. Look at that picture. Dark, blurry, can't identify people. You start making connections, who you are, and blah, blah, blah. You send me to cover the unveiling of a new Apple screen. What do I come back with? Not a picture of the screen, but a picture of some blurry guy walking past the Apple thing with the screen right here. Don't be afraid of it. I was afraid of it.
It looks like, oh, you are a one-trick pony. You won't be a one-trick pony. This is who you are. This is what you do. People I think respect that and want that, so we go from that philosophy, style, blah, blah, blah. The students here frighten me. They frighten me to keep working, to keep telling stories, because if I stop or blink for one second, they are going to catch up to me, and the student is going to be the master. A student will be the teacher. I mean, I just finished a two-hour class, and I learned two things I didn't know before that class started from students because we sat down afterwards and looked at something, and they asked me a question.
I said, "Well, you know I don't," and they are like, "Oh, well, this is how you do it." That's what's most exciting is that now -- they don't really know this--but I feel like I am a student. I didn't get my graduate degree, but I feel like I am getting it now, and at the same time I'm teaching, so it's a weird thing, but it's a wonderful thing at the same time. (Music playing.) (Music playing.)
In Bonus Features, Koci is interviewed by Graduate School of Journalism colleague Jeremy Rue at the Pacific Film Archive Theatre, University of California, Berkeley.