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Jim Lo Scalzo: A Multimedia Mission

Photographer Jim Lo Scalzo is not the sort of guy who is satisfied with shooting portraits at podiums; he has an almost physical need to be creative. So when he stopped getting the sort of assignments that energized his right brain, he went out and made them for himself.

Ghosts in the Hollow from Jim Lo Scalzo on Vimeo.

Two of his multimedia pieces were recently recognized with awards from the White House News Photographers Association. "Ghosts in the Hollow," a tale of abandoned coal mining towns in Appalachia, shows the remnants of the industry and the physical debris it has left behind, and "Dog Days in Washington," portrays the nation's capital in August when tourists abound and Congress is on vacation.

Before getting into multimedia, Lo Scalzo was a staff photographer at U.S.News & World Report for 14 years, during which time he traveled the world, eventually chronicling his journeys in the book Evidence of my Existence and accompanying video. In August 2008, industry cutbacks forced him into contract photographer status, meaning he now works only a few days a week for the magazine, supplementing his income with daily assignments for other wire agencies in Washington.

"The beauty of multimedia is that you're in complete control," he says. "You can make the pictures, you can shoot the video, you can record the audio, you can edit, produce it, report it, write it, narrate it, all yourself. All on your little laptop!"

Dog Days in DC from Jim Lo Scalzo on Vimeo.

The result is a series of multimedia projects that take the traditional structure of "beginning, middle and end" storytelling and morph it into a narrative that is more about mood and experience. He still presents a story, but instead of telling it to you, he makes you feel it.

Lo Scalzo, who says he is obsessed with watching movie trailers, uses similar editing techniques to blend the audio in this piece. Never traditionally trained as a multimedia journalist, Lo Scalzo used the Canon 5D Mark II and a simple pocket audio recorder to collect the still photographs, video and sound, then mixed them with archival audio.

The pieces have never been published in any traditional news outlet, but not for lack of trying. Lo Scalzo said he contacted dozens of media organizations but couldn't find a home for his stories. But that hasn't discouraged him from continuing with his creativity; he's got another project already in the works.

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