Acknowledging the Perfection of Snow Fall

It appears that with the development of technology and the progressive movement of multimedia journalism, more and more readers seek great pieces that tell a story not only with words, but also visuals and audio. As readers, we want to hear the voice of the interviewee. To truly feel like we’re getting the full story, we want first person. Photographs do an amazing job of giving a glimpse into the story, but video and audio have made understanding the emotions a bit easier. 

In honor of the snow days this past week, I thought what better time than to bring into account the masterpiece that is Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek by John Branch. Snow Fall was published a few years back in the NY Times as a multimedia feature, a multiple forms of media it is. Snow Fall tells the tragic story of several winter sports enthusiasts’ fates intertwining with a massive avalanche in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. 

What makes this piece so appealing is its use of visuals. The piece blends the written word with interactive maps and graphics, video interviews and pictures. It tells every angle of the story, including interviews with those involved, detailed descriptions of the area and even the weather that occurred leading up to and during the time of the event. At the end of the piece, Snow Fall shows where the survivors are now and how they’ve coped with the tragedy.

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek is truly the essence of multimedia journalism. There are so many bits and pieces to the story that no one person could possibly produce the work shown in Snow Fall. The story is compelling on its own, of course, but if Branch had simply written the account, it would not have gotten nearly the acknowledgement and credit it deserves. 

After a little digging, I discovered the article, How We Made Snow Fall. It gives a detailed description of all the hard work put into the story and credits a number of extremely talented people that were a part of the crew. 

With a new standard in multimedia journalism, I can’t begin to imagine what every news outlet is working on. Snow Fall is extremely difficult to live up to. It is the epitome of multimedia, brought together in one amazing piece. But I think with such high expectations, a few news organizations have something good up their sleeves and I look forward to reading them/interacting with them. 


I have this idea in my mind of what I want to do with my life and the person I want to be. Photography has always been my passion, regardless of whether or not I have any skill. It seemed like such a joke to pursue a career taking photos of people and places, but I’ve never been able to shake the desire to spend the rest of my life traveling the globe, learning about new and exciting cultures, landscapes and people. To share goodness, as well as tragedy. To make a difference. So I chose to pursue a degree in Photojournalism at the University of Missouri. So far, I absolutely love it. I can’t imagine a life in which I am not involved in some aspect of journalism. (But with my luck, I’ll be the person that scrapes gunk off the bottom of boats for a living.)

Now that I’m actually following my dream, I’ve begun to get cold feet. What if I’m not good enough? What if I don’t make it? How will I support myself? What if I’ve romanticized my idea of what photojournalism truly is? On the other end of the spectrum, I think what if I do make it? What happens to my friends and family if I am traveling the world? Will I see them? Do I really want to see the tragedies of the world? What kind of life will I have? Will I do more damage than help? The unknown has never been so terrifying.

In J2150, Shane showed us this video of the famed war photographer, Don McCullin. Watch here. It is a powerful piece with one hell of an introduction. The clip begins with this quote: “There was a sniper, he was trying to kill me, and he hit my camera which was by my face, and I still have that Nikon camera with a bullet hole in it.” McCullin goes on to tell the viewers that he wasted 50 years of his life. Fifty years. If that doesn’t make an aspiring photographer sick to her stomach, then I don’t know what will.

After watching that clip, I was feeling extremely disheartened. Why would I want to spend 50 years of my life doing something, only to regret it? Of course, McCullin didn’t choose the happiest of subjects. He captured death, starvation and depression. All the things that I hope to avoid like the plague. Does that mean I should just get a job photographing senior portraits and call it a day?

In desperation, I began to search the web for photographers that loved their jobs. Then I recalled Proof, a project by National Geographic that focuses on the photographers. One of the first videos of the project is titled, “Photographers on Photography.” I’d seen this clip before. It shows a number of NatGeo’s most active photographers, one of them being Randy Olson, an MU grad that I cyberstalk. (Fun Fact: He’s married to Melissa Farlow, another MU photo grad that works for NatGeo. Let me just fangirl for a sec.) National Geographic is my goal. The level I dream of achieving on a daily basis. I want to take photos that make a difference. I want to share the world with others.

NatGeo’s Proof was titled so because the photographers pictures are “proof of their passion.” They love what they do. They are striving to make a difference in the world. “Screaming for change.” Photography is a “universal language.” After watching this video, it is clear that none of these photographers regret their work.

So I’ve come to this conclusion. At some point in my career, I will hate photography. I will hate the subject of my photos. I will be overcome by emotion. But I’ve never wanted something so bad in my life.