Assembling UM News' Year in Photos packages

Joey Butler (L) and Mike DuBose (R) working together to capture imagery during pre-pandemic days. (Photo by E Julu Swen, UM News.)
Joey Butler (L) and Mike DuBose (R) working together to capture imagery during pre-pandemic days. (Photo by E Julu Swen, UM News.)

Looking to make your own year in photos presentation?

UM News' Multimedia Content Editor, Joey Butler shares the process taken for their 2020 offering.

The Year in Photos package has a different identity from the UM News Top 5 Stories. Our main guideline is the photo itself, more so than the significance of the story it illustrated, which allows us more creative freedom. Sadly, much of what constitutes “major church news” is too often represented by photos of people sitting at a delegate table in a convention center. This is simply a broad view of a year in the life of the church.

Most years, when we start pulling together photos, it’s a struggle to decide what we have to leave out to keep the presentation to a manageable size. After a year mostly spent in lockdown, I assumed we’d have little to work with. I was wrong!

It was an abnormal travel year, but photojournalist Mike DuBose did manage to venture out for a few assignments — storm coverage in Iowa and Louisiana, an outdoor worship service in Gulf Shores, a back-to-school campaign in Texas. In all cases, we assessed that driving ourselves and shooting outside or indoors with masks and appropriate distancing were safe enough precautions to be comfortable.

Viewing pre-pandemic photos caused some double takes. My first instinct was thinking, “Oh no, they’re not masked or distancing,” then realizing that hadn’t become a thing yet. I initially thought a photo of Bishop Yambasu credited to retired UM News staff member Kathy Gilbert before remembering she had traveled to Sierra Leone just before life got weird.

We also have a wealth of photos from our central conference colleagues to choose from, and those are usually my favorites. Colors in Africa are so interesting to my eye. Even the dirt can be beautiful.

UM News' photojournalists and staff select their contenders and then we discuss as a group to whittle down the number. That conversation usually also identifies an obvious lead and closing image.

We build in Adobe Spark, which offers several different treatments. We next try to identify the photos we want to run in the largest, full-screen setting. After that, I fill in between with medium-size images and smaller photo grids. It takes a few passes of rough drafts and tweaks before arriving at the finished presentation.

View the completed work here.

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Storytelling through photography is a ministry. United Methodist Communications uses photos and photography instruction to inform, encourage, motivate, inspire and engage followers of Christ--and we are resourcing churches to do the same. These efforts require financial support. If you believe in our mission, consider a tax-deductible donation to the work of United Methodist Communications through its Foundation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

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