Living on court is a noisy, wonderful experience

Court Street is not just the main hot spot on Friday nights. It’s a place for people to grab a bite, shop for school supplies or for new clothes or even see a movie. On Halloween those bricks are home to the second largest block party in the nation. So with all of these leisure activities available it can be hard to remember that people live above the coveted bricks.

We all know it would be great to live above our favorite bar or restaurant, but there might be more to choosing that apartment than just proximity to night life. Students who actually live above these popular shops give a deeper looking into their reasoning to living on Court Street.

 

The perfect media tactics to boost business and encourage OU students to shop local

Disclaimer: I am not a professional. All comments come from my personal experiences and observations, and this blog is purely for academic purposes.

Need fresh ideas for reaching a broader audience? Are you interested in the digital strategies and media tactics that could help drive business and encourage Ohio University students to take a stop in your store? Here’s a look at the social media techniques used by several clothing boutiques in Athens. The best part is these strategies can also be applied to a variety of businesses including restaurants,dining, bookstores and specialization stores such as gift shops, craft stores and costume shops.

When thinking of the stores on and surrounding Court Street, there’s a variety of customers and owners. Many would believe each store takes a completely different approach to reach their target audience. Surprisingly, this is far fetched.

After extensive research and vast increments of my time being used to creep through the shops social media, I was surprised to find most of the strategies used by the local owners were extremely similar. The strategies that many stores use often seem to be working well, and unfortunately the mistakes and painful errors were frequently used across the board. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly digital promotion approaches used by many local Athens shops.

Artifacts Gallery

Artifacts Gallery is a local clothing shop located at 2 W. State Street., Athens, OH. This store uses Instagram and Facebook as their strongest social media pages. Some techniques used on the Instagram page included using a white background when taking photos of the apparel. Using a white background, or sticking with a common theme, is useful because people enjoy images that are pleasant to the eye.

Facebook is also used by keeping active with posts that do not only relate to their store and products. Using a personalized approach and occasional videos help keep interest in followers, causing them to be more engaged when looking at a media post.

Unfortunately, Artifacts Gallery could use some work on their Twitter page. Twitter is accessible and sharable, but that is not how it is used. Instead, the tweets only link to Instagram posts, and their customer interaction to assist with product feedback or other related questions. Also, the Instagram could afford to involve a few models when marketing their t-shirts and other apparel. Having a real person involved in media posts allows customers, and especially college students, to be more engaged.

The only issue that struck me hard when viewing Artifacts Gallery’s social media pages was the excessive hashtagging. Yes, I understand many people were told to use hashtags to draw in more likes and assist in SEO, but sometimes less is more. My best advice is to use hashtags appropriately and understand that quality really can mean more than quantity.

Bluetique

This trendy local shop focuses on targeting the typical college girl who wishes she was in walking distance to a mall. Bluetique is located 19 W. State Street., Athens, OH. Bluetique does an excellent job promoting their store through a strong social media presence. Their social media is a triple-threat, and maybe more. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all used constantly and appropriately to reach a variety of customers in the Athens area. Bluetique is also one of the few local shops that has started using Pinterest, which is very smart since many Ohio University women have joined on the Pinterest bandwagon when collaborating ideas.

There’s no doubt that Bluetique thought about the social media tactics they wanted to use. Overall, their pages are professional and engaging. Gabby Summers, a Bluetique employee, said students and workers are often used to pose in their clothes and accessories because it helps make the posts more personal and attracts a larger audience. All Instagram posts are similar because they use a theme and specific lighting location in the store. The owner has also invested in a wallpaper like background that looks like a wooden floor to assist in making the products stand out and keep a professional theme.

New floral two piece! We love our new arrivals! #bluetiqueathens #shopbluetique #newarrivals

A post shared by Bluetique Athens (@bluetiqueathens) on

Instagram and Twitter are also used to promote sales and positions for hire. The Bluetique Facebook page is a strong presence because they share events and other posts on their page to engage with customers. More frequent tweets would help them reach a wider audience. Videos and a cover photo with girls from Ohio University in their clothing gives the site a more personal approach, which is excellent when trying to find new customers and grow as a shop in a college town.

Although they use similar content among all platforms, especially  by reusing Instagram photos, the Bluetique social media techniques are definitely appropriate for most local business. Their techniques drive business and gain OU students as loyal customers.

Figleaf Boutique

Figleaf Boutique is a company that can be found in several college orientated towns, such as Kent, Columbus and Athens. The Athens location can be found at 57 N. Court Street., Athens, OH. Due to the larger presence this boutique has in other cities, their social media techniques are also updated and frequently used to reach OU students.

Figleaf is smart by using Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in creative ways. All their sites maintain a professional setting, and the links on Instagram photos, Pinterest pins, tweets and Facebook posts are directly to their official website. This is extremely important because it increases availability and sales. Many college students, and specifically OU students, don’t like feeling rushed if they can’t make it to the local shops during their daily hours. Having a website that is promoted daily through social media is an excellent technique which could potentially benefit all local shops.

It’s also apparent that Figleaf knows and understands their target audience which is the trendy college girl. They understand how to reach girls needing dresses and accessories for date parties and other social events through all medias. The also reach the parents of many OU girls whose parents are on the lookout for trends and sales on Facebook. Their Facebook content is slightly altered to engage a different group, which is smart since their Facebook audience has relations with their target audience.

The best advice for Figleaf Boutique is to be more interactive on Twitter with customers and keep the variety between their different media sites because it does make a huge difference.

Honey

This lingerie store is located at 13 W. Union Street, Athens, OH. Truthfully visiting the store is the best way to have any idea about their apparel and products. Honey lacks much of any social media presence. They have very few followers across the board, and they have few posts.

Honey’s Instagram has not posted since December, which is poor for almost any company in 2017. This is extremely disappointing since they are targeting OU students, who more often than not use Instagram daily. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, 90 percent of American adults aged 18 to 29 use social media. As a local shop targeting this specific group, it’s best they amp up their social media presence and begin to focus on the successful tactics available to boost business.

However, the one good thing Honey does with their social media is their use of Facebook. There are several more posts and more interaction on their Facebook page, and they even post links and articles to other sources. Outside sourcing to relatable content is a fantastic marketing tactic that many small, local businesses are afraid to test. Although this is very different than other trends among local shops in Athens, this out of ordinary social media technique would be worth a shot for other stores. Many stores and websites appreciate interaction from one another, and promoting a different store potentially brings new customers if the favor is returned.

The Other Place

The Other Place is another trendy store focusing on women’s clothing, accessories and gift items. This boutique can be found at 43 S. Court Street, Athens, OH. This college town shop engages with OU students on a variety of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The owner has recently teamed up with the Scripps’ Impressions team, which has developed a few new techniques to boost business and student interaction among social media.

The Other Place is beginning to use real OU students to model their apparel in hopes to promote a real life experience and receive more engagement from friends and family members of the girls featured in the photos and posts. Another exciting social media tactic is the startup of a WordPress site to allow blogs about trends and styles that can be created from the apparel and accessories in the store.

Show off those shoulders with one of our super cute rompers! #rompers #shoulders

A post shared by The Other Place Athens (@theotherplaceathens) on

Other social media ideas that are common and effective include using Twitter constantly and posting promotional sales and hirings on their sites. When linking, it could be more effective to link to a store site, but instead they link back to their Facebook. This technique could be useful in reaching a different group of OU students, but there’s limited interaction on the Facebook page. Limited feedback and limited posting on both Facebook and Twitter may be the cause for the lack of followers, or vice versa.

10 West Clothing Co.

The new local shop, 10 West Clothing Co. is located at 10 W. Union Street., Athens, OH, and the store is known for selling new and nearly new name brand clothes. Their store specializes in making trendy clothes affordable for the college students in Athens.

As any new store in the area would do, they post quite often in order to gain followers, likes and attention in general. They use Instagram as their best social media platform by posting photos of their clothes, information about sales and funny memes in order to give it a personal feel. Unfortunately, their photography skills could still use some assistance to stand out and be more appealing to customers.

Another bad habit constantly used on their social media pages includes linking directly to Instagram only. Their interaction with customers and the shop’s creativity spreading content is lacking. A few alterations and more variety on all platforms would make a huge difference and advance 10 W. Clothing Co.’s business and appeal to OU students.

In conclusion, local businesses shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, such as promotional events or blogs. Using OU students for modeling clothes, or holding events, engages other students, friends and family increasing publicity and social media awareness. Ohio University faculty could also be a wise partner for events and social media promotion because they carry respect and people have a tendency to shop at local places if they have heard good reviews from people they personally know.

Spreading content creatively and using all media platforms allows local business to reach their max audience and customers. Sometimes, different platforms require, or strive, from a different form of media. Balancing videos, photos and text increasing attention for OU students interested in the local stores because millennials expect businesses to be up-to-date and use social media in a multitude of ways. Also, owners should not be afraid to dip their feet in and try using more than Facebook. Learning how to tweet and pin information is very important to a successful media platform because Twitter and Pinterest are the most shareable content sites.

Finally, keeping a professional look to all platforms makes a huge difference. Photography skills matter. Good lighting, backgrounds, using models instead of mannequins and keeping a constant theme makes a huge difference. Frequent posts are most effective when they are put together and consistent. Keeping digital media in correlation with college students’ expectations allows businesses to increase sales and encourages OU students to shop at the local stores around Athens.

How do you make the perfect sandwich?

Hello! My name is Cullen and like you, I was once a clueless college student desperately trying to land an internship.

After finally receiving a call from a media company that I was thrilled to potentially work with, I immediately began to research anything I could get my hands on about the company to be prepared and well rehearsed before my upcoming interview.

However, to my surprise, nothing was about to prepare me for one of the most bizarre interview questions I had ever received.

With companies like Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon asking candidates off the wall interview questions, it’s important in today’s journalism field to be prepared because companies like The New York Times, Comcast, FOX, and The Walt Disney Company are catching on.
So, let’s dive in. What’s your answer to “How do you make the perfect sandwich?”
You may be questioning the correlation between preparing sandwiches to journalism and your future career, but actually, the answer does lie within the kitchen.

If the bars on Court Street were celebrities, who would they be?

Courtside-Jennifer Lawrence 

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What is J. Law’s favorite food? PIZZA. What is Courtside known for? PIZZA…and alcohol. The bar doubles as a pizza joint, perfect for those wanting a slice to go with their booze.

Stephen’s-Miley Cyrus 

Wikimedia Commons

Miley Cyrus and Stephen’s both went through some changes. Stephen’s used to be a relaxed and tame bar. Now it is a hot spot for DJ’s, fog machines, and twerking. Miley was a Disney star who rebelled and began wearing less clothing and twerking at the VMA’s .

Crystal-Zac Efron

Flickr

There is no denying Crystal’s reputation for being a preppy “Greek” bar. Frat boys and Sorority girls flood the place, even renting out the top bar for special occasions. Zac Efron plays many frat boy roles, like his performance in the hit movie “Neighbors”. I can envision him hanging out at The Stal chugging beers and offering girls “Crystal Balls”.

 

Lucky’s-Matt Damon

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Lucky’s is the type of bar you wouldn’t be ashamed to bring your dad to. Matt Damon has evolved into the “dad” celebrity throughout the years.

The Pub-Owen Wilson

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Owen Wilson is widely known and popular, but mediocre. He’s easily forgettable and isn’t talked about often, kinda like Pub. Once you’re in Pub, you have a good time but it’s not your favorite bar.

Pawpurrs- Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

Wikimedia Commons

It’s crowded, hot, and smells like a mix of puke, sweat and cheap perfume.  Some may also describe the Jersey Shore star “Snooki” the same way. Their Tuesday 50 cent drafts and Wednesday “Liquor Pitchers” nights are a guilty pleasure, just like binge watching Jersey Shore.

Pigskin-Peyton Manning

Wikimedia Commons

When I think about what bar Peyton Manning drinks his Budweiser at, Pigskin comes to mind. Pigskin is a bar for those who don’t want to fight to order a drink. It’s a good place to find a place to sit down and watch sports. The GOAT would approve.

Red Brick-Michael Cera

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Red Brick has the reputation for being the “under-age” bar. Michael Cera is the go-to actor for movies targeted for teens. He’s awkward and looks underage, just like most of the people who frequent Red Brick.

Cat’s Eye-Guy Fieri

Flickr

Cat’s Eye is more of a “townie” bar. Most of the people you see in there slightly resemble the Food NetWork star. They are friendly and enthusiastic but they can sit and talk for hours.

10 Alternative Athens Activities

Every Bobcat knows that there are many activities one should accomplish during their time in Athens, Ohio. Among the more popular are participating in a Court Street Shuffle, attend a Fest, steal an Athens Brick, and hike the infamous Bong Hill. These are just a few on the massive bucket list of things to do in Athens before impending graduation starts to loom over little Bobcat’s heads. However, part of what makes Athens so unique is all of its hidden gems. Here are 10 alternative activities to accomplish in Athens before graduation:

10. Visit the Athens Farmers Market

One of the great things about Athens being in the middle of nowhere is that it is surrounded by farmland. With farmland comes awesome fresh produce! Every Saturday from 9 am – 12 pm in the parking lot of 1000 E State St, Athens Farmers Market takes place. At the Farmers Market you will find a variety of fresh produce, locally made food and crafts. There is everything from raw meat to sprouting flowers to some yummy salsa. Attending the Athens Farmers Market is a must before graduating.

9. Have a brew at Little Fish

Picture of Little Fish’s beer selection

Athens is well known for the local brewery, Jackie O’s but not many are aware of another delightful brewery Athens has to offer. Little Fish Brewery is a charming brewery overlooking the Hocking River. It has outdoor seating, play toys for children, a wide selection of delicious brews, and there is even giant Jenga. What more could you want in a local brewery? Little Fish is located at 8675 Armitage Road, Athens, OH and is open Mon-Thurs: 3 pm-1opm, Fri: 3 pm-11 pm, Sat: 12 pm-11 pm, and Sun: 12 pm- 8 pm.

8. Boogie on the Bricks

Picture of me at Boogie on the Bricks 2015

Another popular activity for Bobcats are the fests and HallOUween block party (all of which are fun) but those are not the only street parties Athens has. Every year in June, Athens City Council shuts down Court Street for one day for Boogie on the Bricks. Boogie on the Bricks is a free Music and Arts Festival featuring local artists and vendors. This year’s Boogie on the Bricks takes place on June 17, 2017 from 12 pm-11 pm. If you are a fan of live music, the arts, good food and free things, then put on your dancin’ shoes because Boogie on the Bricks is the place for you.

7. Hike up Witch’s Peak

 

Nestled in the hills of Appalachia, Athens as a variety of wonderful hiking trails. Bobcats tend to favor the famous Bong Hill due to its spectacular view of Ohio University. Although Bong Hill has a nice view, located right across the street is its lesser known sister, Witch’s Peak; which has the beauty. Witch’s Peak is an enchanting forest with boulders to climb, a cave for burrowing and breathe taking surroundings. All hiker enthusiasts should wonder their way up to Witch’s Peak before leaving Athens.

6. Sleep on a porch couch

SnapChat of Annie Powell after a nap on her porch couch

Why sleep in your warm, cozy bed when you can sleep on a booze covered porch couch?! There are many off-campus houses with lovely porches, many of which are inhabited by college students. When choosing what furniture to place on said lovely porch, many students select used couches from Goodwill. Throughout the year these couches get pretty grimy, but this doesn’t stop students from sleeping on them! After a long night out on the town, the booze (and other questionable substances) covered porch couch doesn’t sound so bad. Don’t knock it til you try it Bobcats.

5. Trek through Moonville Tunnel

Me sitting on top of Moonville Tunnel

All Athens residents know of the local haunted asylum, the Ridges; but for those who like a good scare or even a pleasant hike, Moonville Tunnel is definitely worth checking out. Located about 30 minutes outside of Athens, Moonville Tunnel is an old mining trail that was boosting in the 1800s. The tunnel and trail are rumored to be haunted by a ghost in a white robe, carrying a lantern. Many visitors claim to see a ghostly figure and flashing lights shining through the tunnel at night. This is a beautiful trail to hike with a little spook.

4. Hear jammin’ music at the DIY Local House Shows

Picture from DIY House Show at the Pink Mistress

Athens may be a small town, but the music scene continues to thrive. We have #NumbersFest as the biggest college music festival in the nation, an array of concerts and dance parties at The Union and Casa Nueva, as well as DIY Local House Shows. There is so much passion and support for music and local artists here in Athens. To support local artists, students will turn their houses into venues to host house shows. These shows feature a variety of music genres and are usually a small donation or free to get in. Shows happen a few times a week and are posted on the Athens DIY Community Facebook page. If you’re into great music and cool people, these house shows are the place to be.

3. Vegan Cooking Workshop

Busy schedules and small budgets can make cooking healthy meals a bit of a challenge for college students. But every Tuesday night students and Athens residents come together to chow down on some delicious vegan food. Starting at 7 pm, people begin cooking then food is served at 9 pm. Helping to cook the food is not required but it is a great way to learn how to make yummy health food. For those who do not cook there is just a $2 donation for the meal to help fund the cost of food and rent. Athens Vegan Cooking Workshop takes place in the basement of United Campus Ministries (UCM) at 18 N College Street. This is a fantastic place to eat a delicious healthy home cooked meal and hang with lots of friendly hippies.

2. Get on the roof of Pawpurrs

Chilling on rooftops is another popular activity that Bobcats frequently engage in. There are some Bobcats who like to take this to the next level. The roof of Pawpurr’s is the ultimate rooftop chill spot. The view of Court Street is breath taking and it’s an awesome spot for watching drunk Bobkitties stumble down the bricks. However, getting on top of Pawpurr’s roof is illegal so climb at your own risk!

  1. Rope Swing on Mound Street

The rope swing on Mound Street is Athens ultimate hidden gem. Behind one of the houses is a massive tree and a large cliff-like-pit, looking over the woods. Tied to one of the tree’s branches is a heavy-duty rope with a milk crate attached to it. You sit on top of the crate, jump off the top of the cliff and hold on for your dear life. You swing over the pit, flying around the brush below. It literally feels like flying. Rope swing is fun during the day but is best at night because the view of the stars and moon is unreal. This may seem unsafe but no one has died (yet) from falling off. Take a swing on Athen’s greatest gem; it’s worth the risk.

OMSAR – An outlet for undergraduate Bobcats of color

The Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention (OMSAR) is a sub-branch of the Office for Diversity & Inclusion. The Office for D&I is also home to the Women’s Center, Multicultural Center and Programs, and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Center.

My video demonstrates why OMSAR is a premiere outlet for undergraduate OU persons of color, by focusing on the social programs, scholarships, academic and extracurricular opportunities the office provides.

OMSAR is mostly known for LINKS, a peer mentoring program for first-year minority students that helps ease the transition from high school into college, where often few students share similar ethnic identities. Therefore, I mainly focused on the LINKS program but included aspects of OMSAR that do not relate to LINKS.

I also investigated OMSAR’s work through other organizations, specifically the LGBT Center.  I tied my topics together by interviewing LGBT Center director delfin bautista, to learn about LINKS strengths and weaknesses from an outside source that has OMSAR knowledge.

There are a variety of pictures and descriptive texts in this video to allow viewers to gain a deeper understanding of OMSAR’s impact.

 

FC Cincinnati podcast: FCC goes unbeaten in three-match homestand

So often with Futbol Club Cincinnati, the biggest storylines surrounding the second-tier soccer club have focused on everything off the pitch.

What’s the latest with a soccer-specific stadium? Is promotion to Major League Soccer actually realistic?

Well, not to say the questions have been answered, but the spotlight has finally focused on what actually matters: play on the pitch.

FC Cincinnati had more than 23,000 fans at its home opener. USL’s average attendance last year was less than 4,000. | Pic by Charlie Hatch

In its first home stand, FC Cincinnati went unbeaten with a win and two draws from three matched in eight days at Nippert Stadium.

More impressive, though, were the results compared to the strength of the opponents. Cincinnati entered all three matches against the team that was then top of the league.

Here’s a quick podcast breaking down the matches, the club’s first month and analysis of the offseason summer signings.

https://bumpers.fm/e/b3ugnc2gjugg013gd070

Kelly Bondra, rising commercial photographer takes on her dreams

Kelly Bondra

People always say, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, besides words, isn’t it worth so much more than that? Behind the model, behind the clothes, behind the words, there’s someone behind the lens. They are the only person who made that photograph worth anything at all, because without them, it wouldn’t exist.

Kelly Bondra is a 20-year-old photography student at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Her face is fairy-like, a smattering of freckles spread over her cheek bones and nose. Her fiery-red hair falls in curls that brush her shoulders. She looks dainty, but her personality reflects the opposite.

She walks up to the boxing arena, almost overcome with bags, most of which are filled with camera equipment. She plops them down, straightens up and puts her hands on her hips. The last of the day’s light is streaming through the windows, covering the room in gold.

Someone makes a comment about taking advantage of the natural lighting. Bondra nods and kneels down to pull her camera out. She attaches a lens and then begins to explore the place, looking for the best lighting.

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“I think she has always had a creative side,” says Bondra’s mother, Kathy. She explains that as a child Kelly always loved to draw and color. She enjoyed journaling to keep track of her many ideas and did well on writing assignments.

“I think she has always had a creative side.”

“Kelly was a quiet infant, didn’t like to sleep all that much,” Kathy says. “But what soothed her was music and colored lights.” Bondra’s love of music continues today. She often takes inspiration for her many shoots from music.

“It sounds really cheesy, but I get a lot of my inspiration for different shots from music,” Bondra explains. “Whether it’s a melody or a lyric, sometimes I just get this image that I want to create from that.”

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One of the models has on a mesh shirt over a little black dress and a pair of Nike sneakers. The boxing ring will serve as the set for a high fashion, boxing shoot. Bondra says she got the idea when she saw the mesh shirt in a store.

This shoot is for Thread magazine, an on-campus, student-run publication. It will premiere in the magazine’s final issue of the academic year. A team of student assistants in Thread help Bondra set up her shots. They move around huge umbrellas and board reflectors to manipulate the natural light, creating the perfect shadows on the model.

Bondra styles models in different poses in different places. One sits in a chair, wrapping her hand in tape, another is placed so she casts a shadow of herself taking up a boxing pose. Some of the assistants suggest other poses and Bondra tries to explain her vision for the shoot.

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As a fashion photographer, she also gets a lot of ideas from clothing.

“Sometimes I’ll see a cute dress or shirt or something and I just think, ‘I have to shoot that!'” Bondra says. “So I end up buying a lot of clothes. That’s how I thought of the shoot Maggie.” She explains that she saw the blue dress hanging in a local boutique and immediately thought of Maggie.

Maggie Heltzel, another student at Ohio University, regularly models for Bondra. She is featured in many shoots and Bondra says she has become a sort of muse as well as a good friend.

“Kelly puts herself into her work. It’s personal. I think that’s why we’ve grown so close while working together,” says Heltzel. “I’ve learned more about her through the creative process than I otherwise would have.

Maggie in her blue dress, photos by Kelly Bondra

After she finds the inspiration for a shoot, Bondra often turns to Pinterest to find photos that resemble shots that she may want to create herself. This leads to more concrete ideas for lighting, styling and even the models she chooses. Next is picking a location. Sometimes, the location is obvious, such as with the high fashion boxing shoot, other times it takes a while to figure it out. Bondra has shot at a mansion, in a parking garage, in a greenhouse, at little ponds and of course in the studio.

A sweater series by Kelly Bondra

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As the natural light dissipates, Bondra moves on to a few action shots. There’s a practice dummy that someone drags from the corner. The plan is to have one model pose next to it while the other model kicks it.

Over and over the model swings her leg up towards the dummy’s face as Bondra clicks away, snapping a photo during each kick. She adjusts her angle, crouching down, nearly sitting on the floor. She points her lens up and someone counts down. The model throws another kick. The lights flash and the countdown begins again.

The shot still isn’t perfect. The team adjusts the position of the lights and strengthens them. Bondra backs up a bit. Now she is crouched on the floor of the boxing ring, her arms reach though the ropes, camera in hands. Everyone prepares for the next shot. Another countdown starts.

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Bondra wasn’t always on the path to becoming a photographer. Initially she was a publication design major. Her love of photography started her junior year of high school in a photography class. She really loved the class and thought more and more about making it a career. At the same time, Bondra was heavily involved in editing her school paper.

She wasn’t really sure about going into photography after high school though. “I graduated in the top 25 percent of my class, so no one really expected me to go into a field like photography,” she explains. Bondra says she didn’t get much outside support aside from that of her parents.

“No one really expected me to go into a field like photography”

“As her parents, we were always encouraging all our children to try different things, and not to give up,” says Kathy. “I was initially surprised when she decided to pursue photography but I believe she was inspired by her art teachers in high school.  As she became more and more interested, I saw how this all fit her personality, it was becoming more than a hobby.”

Much like in high school, after Bondra took her first photography class in college, her interest grew even more. She worked with Gary Kirksey and Larry Hamel-Lambert, two photography professors in the School of Visual Communication to develop her interest. Hamel-Lambert encouraged Bondra to attend a workshop in Cleveland at BurkleHagen, a food photography studio.

“I never had an interest in food photography until I saw their studio,” says Bondra. “It was unbelievable. I really got involved and interested during that workshop, even though I was the youngest one there.”

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The action eventually moved into the ring. Two models posed in the center of the ring as if they were ready to fight. Bondra turned to the owner of the boxing studio and asked if the models were posed correctly. The owner jumped in the ring and adjusted the poses to reflect a real boxer’s stance.

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Bondra decided to trade out gloves so one model was wearing punching pads and the other was wearing practice gloves. She asked the model to actually punch the practice pads. Swing after swing and click after click, Bondra moved around them as they continued with the motion, eventually getting the shot she wanted.

The team decided it was time to move on to a few potential cover photo shots. The models changed outfits again and relaxed into more normal poses.

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As soon as Bondra returned to Athens, she switched her major to commercial photography. She wrote a thank you letter to BurkleHagen for the experience she gained and asked if they offered internships.

“She works really hard, and it shows in her images. Kelly is good at styling, lighting, finding interesting locations and adding a concept to her photographs,” says Hamel-Lambert. “Kelly has been an excellent student and a great role model for younger VisCom [Visual Communication] majors. She attends class regularly and actively participates in classroom camera and lighting demonstrations.” He explains how Bondra is not only involved in her classes, she also participates in student publications like Thread and is a part of the School of Visual Communication’s Ambassador Program.

A few weeks later she was asked to intern at BurkleHagen during the summer of 2016. She accepted and went on to enjoy a summer of photographing food in Cleveland, Ohio.

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After taking a few more images of the models by themselves, the team moved on to shooting images for the cover.

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For this issue of Thread, the editor-in-chief was looking for a cover photo with two people on it. This was the perfect opportunity for Bondra.

The two models posed, one sitting on a bench in front in front of the ring, the other leaning on the ropes behind her. They used a few boxing gloves as props and gave their best competitive faces. Bondra snapped some photo, again crouching on the floor. Everyone in the room was getting excited, this could be the perfect cover photo for this issue.

As soon as Bondra got the perfect shot, they moved on to the final few shots.

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“She was the youngest person to attend, but I only know that because Larry Hamel-Lambert told me. She was not only proficient, but had a good portfolio,” said Andrew Burkle, one of the owners of BurkleHangen Food Photography. “She sent us a thank you card after the event with one of her photos on it, then subsequently asked if we had summer internships available. It was an easy choice for us.”

During Bondra’s internship with BurkleHagen she did everything from taking out the trash, walking her boss’s dog, grabbing lunch for the crew and of course assisting on shoots including one for Burger King.

“Kelly enjoyed and embraced the opportunity to work in a studio everyday. She was often put in positions that were outside of her comfort zone and takes that she had never done before, but she asked the right questions and accomplished,” says Burkle. “She’s smart and she’s self sufficient. Also, on weekends or after work she would stay to work on her own projects. That showed us she was serious about this career.”

“She’s smart and self sufficient.”

He explains that Bondra was very advanced for a photographer her age. Her professor, Hamel-Lambert, agrees, adding, “Although she photographs mainly in a fashion and portrait style, Kelly is also a talented food photographer. She is a much better photographer, at her current age, than I ever was as a student.”

“I really enjoyed my internship at BurkleHagen. I liked learning about food photography, I’m still not sure that’s exactly what I want to do in the future though,” says Bondra.

Some of Kelly Bondra’s food photography

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As the shoot wrapped up, Bondra wanted to take one more photo of each of the models, separately. She put them towards the back of the ring, and lit only that area. Another member of the team pulled out a spray bottle. They sprayed the models so it looked like they were sweating.

Each model posed with the boxing gloves up at their face. Bondra, had to stand on a chair to keep her camera level with their faces while still getting the correct lighting.

They sprayed again and again, trying to get the perfect droplets of “sweat” streaking across the models’ faces.

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This summer, Bondra will be moving to New York City for an internship with Sarah Kehoe Productions, a fashion photography studio.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing first hand how fashion photography really works,” says Bondra, “as well as working with people in the industry and learning how to grow my composition, retouching and lighting skills.”

“I think once she settles on what it is she want to shoot and specialize in, she is going to be very good. I know she has an internship with a photographer in New York this summer,” says Burkle. “I really believe that will be a very decisive summer for her. I think this fall you will see more of a focus in her work and style one way or another.”

Bondra agrees, adding, “I think this will really help me decide what I want to do after I graduate.”

A Valentine’s Day project by Kelly Bondra

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The models step out of the ring and go to put their street clothes back on. Bondra takes a deep breath and releases it. She’s finished for the evening. The assistant start to pack up the umbrellas and lights. Bondra packs up her camera and lenses. She thanks the owner of the ring again and promises to send over the finished photos for them to see.

She seems relieved the shoot is over and is ready to head back home. It’s nearly 10 p.m. and everyone is tired. Bondra will now have to edit each of the photos and send them to the photo editor of Thread to be fitted for the magazine.

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Kelly describes her photography style as feminine, but with an edge. She loves to include dark tones and shadows in her photographs as well as adding blue to her images. She would say that right now her style can be seen as soft but moody, dark and vulnerable.

“I’m not afraid to do weird stuff, like the butt photo,” she says, laughing. “I like that extra sense of feeling, more emotion. I try to create a concept that isn’t necessarily obvious and I also use my own personal and real emotions.”

A few of Kelly Bondra’s “weirder” shots, including “the butt photo”

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When she’s ready to edit photos, Bondra looks through every single one she took at the shoot. Oftentimes this is upwards of 500 images. She narrows them down and narrows them down until only a few are left.

After picking her favorite unedited images, she goes in and retouches the skin and background for small blemishes. She corrects the tone to her personal preference.

With Thread however, this process is a little bit different. She simply sends her photos to the photo editor of the magazine and suggests some edits and makes a list of her favorite images. Sometimes she and editor make the same decision, but often they don’t.

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“I’m never happy at the end of a shoot,” Bondra says. “There’s always something that I wish I had done better or differently. I always find things to improve on and learn a lesson at the end of shoots.”

“Kelly needs to have more confidence in herself. While no one can hit a ‘home run’ photo every time, Kelly certainly can hit a double most all the time, and I hope that she realizes this,” says Hamel-Lambert. “She’s good now, and she is going to be a lot better in the future.”

When Bondra discusses her future, she hopes she will continue to grown in her work. She wants to create more cohesive work and have more successful shoots. She also would like to be someone that other photography students can look up to and admire.

“I’m really not worried about Kelly’s future. In my experience, a person who is as hard working, smart and talented as Kelly often go on to do great things,” says Burkle. “Whatever she decides to become, I’m confident she will go out and accomplish. Although, selfishly, I hope she graduates and wants to work for us in the future.” They’ve offered her a position at the studio for when she finishes school.

As for Bondra’s mom, she really just hopes her daughter continues to strive to be her best.

“We are proud of what Kelly‘s eyes see.  She has taught me much in these past 20 years.  She sees and listens with her heart.  I love the way she captures life and I can’t wait to see what comes next,” says Kathy. “I wish for her to try hard, be content, enjoy the people she meets along the way, develop an appreciation for the many things in life and become a great cook. And, GET A PUG!” Bondra has wanted to get a pug, her favorite dog, for several years and is hoping to get one after graduating.

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Thread considered one of Bondra’s pictures for the cover of their final issue.

“They didn’t pick it because they said it was took moody and dark for spring,” says Bondra as she rolls her eyes. Several of her images appeared in a spread designed by her in the middle of the book.

“I try to capture the beauty that I see in other people,” she says. Most of the time, she is overwhelmingly successful.

The high fashion boxing shoot, final photos by Kelly Bondra

Data Visualization for Journalists

With the rise of easily accessible information and datasets, it is becoming increasingly important for journalists to know how to extract stories and create an accurate visualization of the data. The goal of this podcast is to introduce data visualization and explain its importance.

In this episode I discuss the key concepts of creating an aesthetically pleasing infographic, as well as suggest some tools and software that journalists should learn to use to represent their data. Additionally, I define several terms that are used frequently in the field, and discuss the importance of being truthful and transparent.

I incorporate ideas from two prominent figures in the field of data visualization, Alberto Cairo and Enrico Bertini through out my discussion. Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Communication at the School of Communication at the University of Miami. Bertini is a professor of visualization at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.

Bertini states that a great visualization has five qualities:

  1. It is truthful.
  2. It is functional.
  3. It is beautiful.
  4. It is insightful.
  5. It is enlightening.

Check out the first episode of Data Viz for Journalists to learn more about these qualities:

Links from this episode:

Chartsbin:
chartsbin.com/

ICharts:
icharts.net/

Geocommons:
geocommons.com/

My website:
www.chancebrinkman-sull.com

5 cruise hacks for first time cruisers

A picture of a beach at Paradise Island from the Atlantis Hotel | Wynston Wilcox

One of the most important things we as humans should do with our time on this earth is see the world. Since I was young, my family would go on yearly summer vacations. We’ve traveled (by car because there’s five of us) as far as Miami, Fl. and been to D.C., Pittsburgh, Myrtle Beach and plenty of other places.

One thing I have learned is that traveling is awesome, whether that be domestic or international. I flew out of the country for the first time over spring break last year to Argentina for a study abroad trip. It was an amazing experience and opened up a new window or me to continue my new love for traveling.

This past spring break I went on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas. Me and one fo my friends cruised Royal Caribbean for our first cruise. For all you other first time cruisers, here is a podcast about five cruise hacks I learned after my first cruise!

https://bumpers.fm/e/b3ufmrnb8sf0017hh100