Professional Photographic Training A Draw For Postgraduate Students

Photo by Vincent Du

Award-winning photographer and Honorary Lecturer, Dr. Michael Coyne, is teaching Master of Journalism students photojournalism throughout the month of May.

The course is part of the JMSC’s month-long mini-semester held to enable postgraduate students to take optional extra classes to gain further credits and expand their skills.

Courses that are normally taught over a full 12-week semester are compressed into one month of intensive learning. In this case, the class is taught three evenings a week from 6.30 – 9.30pm.

During the course, Coyne covers the basics of composition, content, lighting, editing, photographing people and production of a photo-story.

“I encourage the students to see more clearly through the lens and take pictures that come from the eye, the brain and the heart,” Coyne said.

“For the photo-story, the students are asked to shoot eight pictures from one position which forces them to look for pictures in one location,” he continued.

“They are required to shoot an environmental portrait on a DSLR camera. The next exercise is to take another environmental portrait but this time on a mobile phone camera. The student must use the same techniques as they did with the DSLR. This exercise is done to prove that people take photographs, not cameras.”

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Andrea Yu (MJ 2012), a postgraduate student from Canada, said she is enjoying the class.

“I found the street corner assignment fun, challenging and good practise as well; I think about pictures differently than I used to,” she said. “Michael Coyne’s a very engaging speaker and, as he uses a lot of his own photographs as examples, he’s able to really explain the moment in which he captures a photo well, to the point where we can just about imagine what it would have been like to be at the very spot and moment that he snapped the shutter.”

Another student, Adrian Wong (MJ 2011), was keen to take the class because he hadn’t used a DSLR camera before.

“I always thought that taking a photograph with a DSLR would provide better photos as you play around with the different settings to give a photograph more power and emotion,” said Wong, who comes from the UK. “However, I’ve learned from Michael that the type of camera doesn’t matter as the photograph comes from your heart and gut and not from the camera.”

Coyne’s photographs have appeared in prominent publications around the world including National GeographicGerman GeoTimeLife and Newsweek.

He has had a number of successful books of his work published and has won awards from groups such as the American National Press Photographers Association, the Overseas Press Club of America and the FCC Hong Kong Human Rights Press Awards. Coyne was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Griffith University in October, 2008.

Over the last 30 years, he has covered international events such as the Iran Iraq war, Palestinian Israeli conflict, East Timor independence, Tiananmen Square uprising, Rwandan massacre and the recent protests in Bangkok.

“I would like to emphasise that photographs come from inside the person and the camera is only a tool,” said Coyne. “I teach students about content, composition and lighting, which are the basic components for a good photograph. The students are shown how to correct the basic mistakes that many amateurs make when photographing people.”

The students are quick to praise Dr. Coyne’s teaching method.

“Once you meet Michael Coyne, you can tell straightaway that he has a strong passion for photography,” said Adrian Wong.

“In every class, he shows his photographs as a teaching tool, as each one has its own story to tell. Another great thing about him is how much time he spends evaluating a student’s photographs. A lot of the students are new to photojournalism and Michael gives a lot of support and advice to each student by suggesting ways to improve each photograph.”

Dr. Coyne is also offering a MAP course called Beyond Basic Photography from May 27-29. MAP courses are offered by the JMSC to working journalists and other professionals, as well as college and university students wishing to expand their skills and also gain a taste of the world of journalism and communications.

This upcoming MAP course is a fantastic opportunity to receive instruction from a renowned professional photographer.