Cultural Documentation Training: The Arts of Ethnographic Fieldwork

Photojournalist Lara Cerri demonstrates composition and light through examples of photographers' work. Photo by Inta Carpenter.
TAI in collaboration with the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, offered a five-part series of workshops designed to give training in the practical art of cultural documentation. Experts from various fields were invited to lead workshops in photography, videography, audio tape recording, and post-production multi-media presentation. Here is a brief summary of some of the activities that took place.

In the two-day still photography workshop, students were instructed in the methods and aesthetics of documentary photography. Topics included picture composition, proper exposure, and harder-to-define principles such as how to capture meaning and emotion in our photographs. Students were asked to critique each other's photos, as well as those of notable photographers found in photojournalism and documentary books. Instructor Lara Cerri has been staff photographer for the Evansville Courier and San Francisco Chronicle.

Participants spent part of the day trying out various types of video shots around Bloomington. The participants then critiqued the various shots, and discussed better strategies for effective videotaping. IU Professor John Winninger from Radio and Television was the instructor.

Audio tape recording
Folklore graduate students Dan Peretti and Zsuzanna Cselenyi study the photographs. Photo by Inta Carpenter.
The audio tape recording workshop surveyed the many different formats for recording audio, which included reel-to-reel, cassette, DAT, minidisk, as well as examining the various types of microphones. There was much discussion as to the pros and cons of each of the formats, touching such issues as preservation value, ease of use, quality and durability. Society for Ethnomusicology Director and SAVAIL director Alan Burdette was the instructor.

Post Production/Multi-Media Presentation
The post production/multi-media presentation phase, addressed the many ways recorded material could be creatively presented by utilizing today's sophisticated digital labs. Participants were given time to try out the various stations in the production lab: flatbed/slide/negative scanning, audio digitizing and film editing. Society for Ethnomusicology Director and SAVAIL director Alan Burdette was the instructor. SAVAIL is a sound and video lab located in the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology.