By now, you’ve probably seen the pictures: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, surrounded by his family and friends, sitting on a public beach that had been closed to the public amidst a state government shutdown.
In a write-up for the (Newark, New Jersey) Star-Ledger, which published the photos, photographer Andrew Mills described how he caught the governor by acting on a hunch and booking a private plane to take him along the Jersey shoreline.
Mills’ photos give us the opportunity to think about how journalists can use photographs and videos taken from above — whether by helicopter, plane or drone — in really creative ways to break news and tell stories. How does shooting from above help the audience? How does it help tell a more nuanced story? And what kinds of stories can local newsrooms tell with these shots beyond tracking traffic, animals escaping, or the latest local fire?
Aerial shots — like the ones Mills took or the ones taken by drone operators — give you “the ability to offer perspective on a thing,” says Matt Waite, a Professor of Practice at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who started the Drone Journalism Lab and (full disclosure) sometimes teaches drone workshops for The Poynter Institute. “I have described drones as purpose-built context machines. They are designed to put things into perspective for audiences especially anything that involves large spatial topics.”
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