Announcer: This is 4-H-4-U-2, a podcast from the Mississippi State University Extension Service promoting 4-H programs and positive youth development. Hear now your host, Dr. John Long and Cobie Rutherford.
John Long: Welcome back to another addition of 4-H-4-U-2, the podcast that brings you everything 4-H and 4-H related in the state of Mississippi. I'm your host John Long.
Cobie Rutherford: And I'm Cobie Rutherford.
John Long: Cobie, how's it going?
Cobie Rutherford: It's going great John.
John Long: That's great. That's just great. The weekend is here and we've got some cool weather on the way so, we are super excited about that. We are also super excited to have our guests here today. Well, it's just a picture perfect day outside and we've got the picture perfect man with us. Mr. Kevin Hudson.
Kevin Hudson: Glad to be here with you.
John Long: Yeah, whoa, that was good. Yeah. Kevin, since you're here, tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from and basically how you got to where you are today?
Kevin Hudson: Well, I grew up in Louisville, Mississippi and still live there today and so it's a short commute to MSU. Glad to be working as a photographer with Extension. Most of my working career has been spent either in photography or video production, so kind of those two fields and I've spent a good bit of time at the university and other places. I'm glad that my path took me to Extension; it's a good place to be.
John Long: When did you first like really realize that photography was going to be your thing? How old were you?
Kevin Hudson: Well, I don't ... That's hard to say. I mean, I was always interested in photography I guess growing up. We lived next door to my grandparents and my grandmother had an old manual 35 millimeter camera that she would let me take and use. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. They said everything on it with the lever and everything. But she was good about letting me experiment with that and kind of see what it would do. And she was also good about paying for the film developing in those days. You know, you had to pay for that.
John Long: Where'd you have to take yours in to?
Kevin Hudson: I want to say in the days before the big store that everybody goes to. I think what I remember is sending it off through the mail, through one of the local drug stores.
John Long: Okay. What was the turnaround time on that?
Kevin Hudson: Oh man, I don't remember. Probably a week or two maybe. I'm just guessing.
John Long: Yeah. Yeah. So you didn't do the dark room thing until...
Kevin Hudson: I never did.
John Long: And you still don't to this day.
Kevin Hudson: No.
Cobie Rutherford: You know, I remember when the little digital cameras first came out. It's like that kind of toss and go's and I thought that was the coolest thing. When some of the big box stores and drug stores start offering 24 hour process, I thought, wow, this is the best thing. How could anything get better in photography and we just had no idea.
John Long: Now, its leaps and bounds.
Cobie Rutherford: And now the world is crazy. Right.
Kevin Hudson: It was a big deal even after that to get one hour processing, you know?
Cobie Rutherford: You know and now, last job I had was with Alabama Cattleman's. And we talked about that a little bit on here before and I was kind of thrown into being the official photographer for the Alabama Cattlemen with no training at all. And you know, people just think that it's an easy task to do and I'll be the first to say; it's hard. You know, trying to get the lighting, all that. Kevin, I don't know how you do it, to be honest with you. I would take a thousand shots and maybe get one good one.
Kevin Hudson: Well, I would not say that livestock photography is my forte by any stretch and that's difficult Cobie, because you know, at least when you're working with people, you speak the same language and animals often don't cooperate and don't help you out.
John Long: You learn to speak cow.
Kevin Hudson: Yeah. Even then, they don't always want to cooperate. So, that that's difficult to do.
Cobie Rutherford: When my boss would always be like, "Every picture you get of me, my mouth is open." I'd be like, well, maybe if you wouldn't talk all the time.
Kevin Hudson: Yeah. It usually works that way for me when it's pictures of, of our boss. You know, mouth is open and I ended up taking a whole lot more to try to avoid that.
John Long: What's your favorite thing to photograph?
Kevin Hudson: I enjoy taking pictures; I do a lot of different photography for Extension, but probably what I enjoy the most is the photographs for Extension Matters Magazine. The magazine focuses on individuals around the state who are doing good things, interesting things and they've had some help or some influence from Extension along the way. And so the magazine tells those stories. But those people are always interesting and I enjoy that. It's a lot of environmental portraiture. So you're shooting them in their location, whether it's their farm or their business or home or wherever they are.
Kevin Hudson: And I know a little bit about the person before I go. Oftentimes, the story is being written at the same time, so I don't have all the facts about them. But, you just get to where they're located and you have to do a location assessment and see what's there, what's going to work for photos and kind of as you're talking to them, you know, you're thinking about what, what can we do, what will work, what's not going to work. And I enjoy that. That's probably my favorite part of the job.
John Long: You do a great job because it's a beautiful publication.
Cobie Rutherford: You know and you've read those stories and you really don't, if there's not a picture with them, it's hard to make that connection with the person that the story is about. So I think that the strong photographs sometimes tell more of the story than sometimes the verbiage does.
Kevin Hudson: Well, I think that can be true. Thank you. Yeah.
John Long: How long is that, excuse me. How long has that publication been going on now?
Kevin Hudson: I think with the issue that will come out beginning next year, I think that's volume six so, we just about have; and the last issue for this year is not out yet, so five years; wrapping up five years production.
John Long: Good.
Cobie Rutherford: You know, I like those stories and how diverse the Extension audience is. And I think, you know, just if you don't even have time to pick up the whole Extension Matters and read it from front to back, you just flip through and say the portraiture throughout the magazine and see the youth, the adults, the older generation, everyone who's being impacted by Extension; it really tells a neat story.
John Long: And I think that of course, Kevin does all the photography for the project achievement days as well. And of course, we get to work with him during the summer doing those. And you think well, a picture is not, you know, you take a thousand of a young person getting an award. But to that young person, that is so super special and you can see that every time they step up and get their picture made, I'm sure.
Kevin Hudson: You can. And that's fun. I enjoy the project achievement days. There are photography contest that I run in the morning and in the afternoon. And then after all of those contests are complete, I'll take the awards photos at the end of the day. and I think it was maybe one of the, one of the early project achievement days this year; the 4-H-ers get their awards and then they wait until that specialist, you know, is, is finished giving all the awards for that category and they will take their photos all together.
Kevin Hudson: So, there's time backstage or wherever we're taking the photos for them to wait on that specialist. And there was one young 4-Her this year who was talking to another one while we're waiting on their specialist. And he was just really excited and I heard him saying, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe it. I knew when she was reading those names, she was going to call my name and she did. And I just knew it was going to be my name and I just can't, I mean, this is like the Grammys!" And I thought, that's great. It's a really big deal for them. And so, it's fun to see that and, and it gives you some appreciation for what they're doing and how much they enjoy it. And that's nice to see. Nice to be, have a small part in that.
Cobie Rutherford: Now, Kevin, how many, you might have mentioned earlier, how many years have you been that official Extension photographer?
Kevin Hudson: Well, I don't know that you would call me the official Extension photographer. When I came on, we had actually had two photographers, Cat Lawrence, who went on and is doing great things at the University of North Carolina Charlotte now as a photographer for them and we do have other people who take photos.
John Long: I've even taken photos.
Kevin Hudson: You have. Yes. And do a good job with it.
John Long: I've taken pictures of Kevin.
Kevin Hudson: Unfortunately, yeah. But I came to Extension in 2014.
Cobie Rutherford: Okay. You and I, I think came along about the same time. I started in early 2015.
John Long: Kevin used to work my wife.
Kevin Hudson: I did. Yeah. Yeah.
John Long: How many years did you work over there?
Kevin Hudson: I was there two different times, so I'm going to say altogether probably about eight years I would guess.
John Long: Yeah. Cool.
Cobie Rutherford: So now you're, you're getting to the point in your career where you're seeing some of these children go from 4-Her or into the workforce. So, I bet that's a pretty neat story to kind of watch and photograph and be a part of and have all those memories on your computer. When I was in Alabama Cattleman's, that was always one of my favorite things to do is to watch these children progress through the ranks of being a junior cattlemen member going up into becoming a leader in the adult association. So, it's kind of neat that you'll have that experience firsthand and you're always kind of our go-to person too, for a historical pictures and reference now.
John Long: Oh yeah.
Cobie Rutherford: So, it's kind of like your, the library, the archive down here.
John Long: Where can we find a picture of dot, dot, dot.
Cobie Rutherford: Go to gallery.
Kevin Hudson: We get that sometimes and sometimes, maybe it's a person or an event that we, it certainly predates me. I haven't been here a long time, but a lot of the photos we have do go back a long time. But we do get requests for things that we don't have and sometimes we can direct them to somebody else on campus who may have those photos. Sometimes the library has them, so yeah, different places.
John Long: And you also helped with our Congress too; our state Congress.
Kevin Hudson: I do, yeah.
John Long: And it's basically the same contest that you do at PAD? Are you doing anything extra on that?
Kevin Hudson: Well, for a long time, we had an all day photo track, but this past year I think that may have been the last all day track there was. So, this past year or this year that we just finished, this summer we have just the regular photography contest. So a judging contest and a visual presentation contest that take place on two different days.
John Long: What was the photo safari and is that something, was that Dr. Browning did that or is that?
Kevin Hudson: No, the photo safari is something that still goes on. That happens the spring break week of each year. And that really got started with Cat Lawrence, who was another photographer here. Cat, together with Leflore County agent, Christina Meriwether, got that started.
Kevin Hudson: And the idea was to take a group of 4-Hers to some place on around the state, let them learn about Mississippi, maybe see a part of the state that they've never been to see some things that they haven't seen before, let them take photos, teach them about their camera. We do require that if you're going to go on the photo safari, you have to have a camera. You can't take pictures with your phone. So, we want to teach you about the settings on your camera; what does what and when to use this and when to use that and that type thing. So, it's a bit of an educational four days that we spend with them, not only on things photography, but things about our state. In this past year, the Safari actually was in the New Orleans area. So, I think this year coming up, we'll be back in Mississippi covering some other places that we have not been to yet.
John Long: Cool.
Cobie Rutherford: So how does the photography judging contest work? I know there seems like there's an increased interest every year; more and more children sign up for that contest. And it seems like it's really growing.
Kevin Hudson: It is growing. I mean we have a good number of participants through the project achievement days and then also at Congress for the elder 4-Hers.
Kevin Hudson: The judging contest is really made up of two parts. In project achievement day, they bring their photos with them, but they bring four photos that they've taken, four printed photos, one portrait, one action photo, one landscape photo and one still life. And those get judged at project achievement day. We try to give them a little constructive criticism, you know, tell them what works about this photo; what might make this photo better. Something that you know, they can go home and try next time. So, that's one part; that's the skills judging part of the judging contest.
Kevin Hudson: The other part is oral reasons and for that, we'll show them a series of four photographs and we want them to, on their own, look at those photos, evaluate them, rank them from the best photo to the worst photo and then be able to tell me or me and whoever else is judging orally; tell us your reasons for ranking them that way and together that makes up your score for the judging.
Cobie Rutherford: And then the visual presentation is basically where they just give a presentation on something about a camera or a photograph or a feature of a camera, is that right?
Kevin Hudson: That's right. It can be a visual presentation related to anything photography. So, when you see visual presentations about photos they've taken, sometimes it's about the history of photography or a particular type of photography; can be about their camera. It can be about pictures taken with a smart phone. So, anything really that's photography related; it's pretty much wide open as far as the visual presentation goes.
John Long: And we talked about the technology side of it too and you just alluded to about going back to the phone. Amazing how that has really changed our ability to take pictures and good quality pictures at that. But, do you see, and I heard this one time, I don't know if you remember this or not and I guess it was when digital cameras were just coming into really popularity, was the fact that with a digital camera you don't have those little nuances that you, that you captured with a good or bad with a film camera to whereas if you take a picture and you don't like it, you can quickly delete it. Do you say that been a hindrance or is technology really, my guess, more pro than it is con when it comes to photography?
Kevin Hudson: Well I think it's definitely more pro because you, you have the ability to take as many photos as you'd like, see what looks good and what doesn't and you can delete them. It's not costing you anything. Whereas the film days, you had to pay for the film and pay for the developing also.
John Long: So what would you tell a young person that would be interested in getting into photography? How would they get started? What would be some good ideas to do?
Kevin Hudson: I always advise people who are interested in photography; and a lot of times they have interests in other things that kind of are photography related, my advice is always study art as well because if you understand things like composition and where to place things within the frame; it's the same thing that you see in the art world, whether you're talking about painting or drawing or those kinds of things and that really works together with photography.
Kevin Hudson: You understand more about an image; it's not just like looking through the holding your phone up and clicking or just pressing the shutter on a camera, but you're intentionally making photos, you understand about composition and why you put this here or why you would put your subject in this spot versus this other spot. You understand lighting, you know. So, my advice is always study art and find photographers or find photos that you like and that's easy enough to do online these days. Find photos that you like and try to figure out how that photographer made that shot. Where were they? Where was the camera? Was it up high? Was it eye level? Was it down low? You know, where was the sun? Where's the light coming from? And just practice those things and learn what you can do with what you have. And you know, the best camera available to use is the one that you have and sometimes that is your cell phone. So, practice with whatever you've got. You can't say that practice makes perfect, but practice always leads to improvement.
Cobie Rutherford: And you know, and I've heard some people say, well, if it's not a good photo, I can fix it with Photoshop. And that kind of goes back to the art thing too, because really if you can't draw, you really have trouble editing photos. Right?
Kevin Hudson: Well, yeah, I mean I think that's related. And you know, Photoshop is a great tool. I use it every day and I love it. You can't Photoshop everything though. You know, there are things that are beyond being saved and sometimes we get those from people that you know like, "Can you help me do this or can you make this look this way?" And sometimes we can and sometimes we can't. So, it pays to have some knowledge and experience on the front end to get it as good as you can and don't count on, you know, Photoshop to fix everything for you.
John Long: Perfect example of how you can use Photoshop is when I was getting my engagement pictures made, I realized I had excess hair on my neck and the photographer took that out.
Kevin Hudson: Yeah, you can do that.
John Long: She said the offending hair had been removed.
Kevin Hudson: The offending hair.
Cobie Rutherford: That's funny.
Cobie Rutherford: You know my pet peeve when it comes to photography is that if I ask someone to send me a picture and then they copy and paste that picture into a word document and send and just obliterate the resolution and the size of it and just make it so pixelated. What's your pet peeve?
Kevin Hudson: Well, that would be one. When people embed things in Word documents and send them to me. And you know.
John Long: I'm sorry. I think I've done that.
Kevin Hudson: I don't know if you've done that. I don't, I don't recall that. But you know, just attach the photo to an email. Don't try to embed it into the body of the email. Just send it as an attachment. And with phones these days, you've got the ability to change your settings on your phone so that you're taking a, a really lightweight photo that's great for social media or whatever, something like that may be way under a MB or you can also set your phone to take a heavier duty image. You know, maybe a couple of MB or even four or five, six MB. And what a lot of people don't understand is the difference in resolution that you need when you're printing something versus looking at it on a screen. You don't need a huge photo. It doesn't have to be big at all to look good on a screen, but you can't necessarily print that and it looked good.
Cobie Rutherford: Yeah. That's one thing I learned at the Alabama Cattleman's was that when I put any picture in print media that it has to be 300 dots per inch. That's the only thing I remember about photos and print media.
Kevin Hudson: That is the standard that we go by for things that are going out to news outlets or magazines. We want to keep it at 300 DPI.
John Long: Well Kevin, where can youth or 4-Hers learn more about photography? What resources do we have out there?
Kevin Hudson: Well, I would start with your agent. Certainly there are some things available through a national 4-H that some good resources that are photography related. I would start there also, you know with, I would always say with your parents' permission, you know, you can look online, there's a lot of free education related to photography, so it's possible to learn a lot about photography.
John Long: Oh, that's great.
Cobie Rutherford: Is it those two sources?
John Long: Well, Cobie where can folks go to learn more about 4-H and 4-H in their area?
Cobie Rutherford: Well, if you want to learn more about 4-H in your area, you can always visit, like Kevin said, at your local extension office, or you can go to our website at extension.msstate.edu.
John Long: And Kevin, thank you for joining us today. I think it's a great way to wrap up our week and just wish you the best of luck.
Kevin Hudson: Oh, thank you. I've enjoyed it.
John Long: All right, well thanks a bunch and thank y'all for joining us for 4-H-4-U-2. Thanks for listening.
Announcer: Thanks for joining us for 4-H-4-U-2. For more information, please visit extension.msstate.edu and be sure to subscribe to our podcast. 4-H-4-U-2 is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Office of Agricultural Communications.