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From Camera Shy to Camera Fly

I was taking a risk when I first signed up for BrandJRNY. I have always been interested in creative work, but I had never made a video with anything beyond my phone. Even just holding a DSLR Camera for the first time proved to be an intimidating feat. It was like holding a really expensive and cold baby. Though I was anxious about my camera skills, I was eager to learn how to use and apply that to BrandJRNY.


Eagerness only goes so far, however. One of our first assignments was to photograph candid photographs of people and create a video sequence using the cameras. I quickly realized that I had much to learn. After receiving feedback from Professor Smith and my fellow team members, however, I slowly began to improve. 


I was eventually assigned to the AR/VR (augmented and virtual reality) and Community Storytelling team. It was one thing learning about cameras, but new and emerging technologies were something I was quite surprised to be producing. Nonetheless, I soon found myself happily posing with the Snapchat filters I had created and following the engagement numbers as people began to use them. 


Hunter Bennett Using the Magic Leap One | Source: Logan Kinney

When I thought I had touched base in every area of new media, Professor Smith presented something else to me. We were going to be creating holograms of Point Pleasant residents who were sharing their stories with us. I was not aware this technology even existed, but sure enough, we were projecting the stories of Point Pleasant and its people. I will never forget the reaction of one resident, Rick, who had participated in the hologram project. He put on a headset and saw himself telling a story in the same room. He was ecstatic.


Using this technology to share stories was challenging, but resulted in a rewarding payoff. To be honest, I found the most challenging part to be promoting events. While we were in Point Pleasant, one of my primary duties was to promote our Share Your Story Event. I quickly learned that approaching strangers is no easy feat. I created a list of ways to approach people when advertising your event.

  1. Read the room

  2. Know that some people will say no, but don’t assume everybody is uninterested

  3. Be confident and aggressive, but always be polite

  4. Make it fun

  5. Remember you can’t effectively tell people about an event if you aren’t interested in it yourself

We had a lot of momentum with the projects we were doing. It was unfortunate that our efforts in Point Pleasant were cut short. We are by no means finished, however. This team is one of the strongest groups I’ve worked with, and while online classes can be difficult, I am always ready and eager to show up to Zoom and see friendly faces. 


With the skills I’ve learned in BrandJRNY, I feel confident going forward with other projects in the future. I’ve been introduced to so many new areas and technologies, and am finishing the semester by building on each of them. There is nothing more cliche than saying BrandJRNY is quite a journey, but getting to know everyone and learning new skills has been an experience I will never forget. 


My name is Hunter Bennett and I am on the AR/VR and Community Storytelling team. In my spare time, I enjoy filmmaking, drinking coffee, and listening to my favorite classically trained artist, Playboi Carti. - @huntain


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Housed at the WVU Media Innovation Center, BrandJRNY is a community branding initiative that is a grant-funded collaboration between the American Electric Power Foundation and WVU Reed College of Media.

The Initiative was previously funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for our three pilot projects.

Original website designed by Mariah Elliott, under the direction of PI and Director Dr. Rita Colistra.

Photos and content may not be used without written permission by contacting brandjrny@gmail.com.

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