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RIT Photojournalism Trip 

10.17.2016

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NYC Trip 

This blog details and reflects upon my trip to New York City with the RIT Photojournalism Department 

RIT Photojournalism Trip - NYC

10.27.2016

Reflections


The New York City trip was incredible. It was so much more than I expected and I am so grateful that I was offered the opportunity to tag along with such a talented group of young photojournalists. 


Going into it, I honestly did not think I would be able to see myself fitting in at very many places. The trip is obviously directed toward the interests of the photojournalism students, but as our hosts talked about the changing landscape of our industry, I began to realize that my interests aligned very closely with a number of the placed we visited. This brings me to my the first major lesson learned in New York.


Lesson One

Multimedia is a must.


Unless you're an established photographer working for The New York Times or Time magazine, gone are the days where a journalist can be just one thing. You can no longer just write or just take pictures. Because of the way social media is now dominating our society and due to the incredible advances in technology, each story we tell must be delivered in a number of different formats and in a way that works across social media platforms. 


Attention spans are short and in order to tell the stories that deserve to be told, we must find new and creative ways to tell them. However, budgets are tighter than ever and organizations cannot afford to send dozens of people to tell the same story. This means that journalists are having to adapt and become proficient in more than one thing. Even photographers who notoriously hate being in front of the camera, are having to pull out their phones and shoot Facebook Live videos for their organizations. 


From my standpoint, this means that in my final year here at RIT, I need to make sure that every course I take going forward gives me new knowledge, so that I am a more rounded journalist equipped with many skills. 


Lesson Two

Video is king


I think every place we visited over the course of the week was trying to figure out more and better ways of incorporating video into the work that they were doing, if they weren't already using it. 


Even the most traditional of publications, like The New York Times was using Facebook Live and other tools to add video content to their stories. 


People really like videos. They're more likely to devote two to three minutes of their time watching a video than they are reading an article and I think this has it's pros and it's cons. In some ways, it really hurts the traditional print journalists who devote days, weeks and months to reporting and writing quality pieces that tell important stories. On the other hand, I think it pushes the industry as a whole to tell those same stories in an equally powerful way through a different medium. 


Personally, I'm excited for this transition into more video pieces than ever before. When I fell in love with journalism, it wasn't with print or stills. It was with combining words with video in a way that delivered the story and the emotion of a subject directly into the living room of a viewer. I don't think there is a more powerful way of telling a story and I am excited to be inspired by this new era of video storytelling. 


Lesson Three

Change and death are not synonymous


When you tell your relatives what your major is, they look at you like you have three heads because for so long now, all we have heard is that journalism is dead or dying.


Yes, there have been cuts and yes, budgets are tight. 


But at every single place we went to, there was an excitement about the future of journalism and where the industry was going. 


Jim Estrin even believes we are in a golden era of journalism. 


While the traditional jobs may be limited or gone, there are so many new opportunities that we can create for ourselves if we work hard enough and prove our worth.


Lesson Four 

Do what you love


It's no secret that only a select few collect major financial gain in this industry. If you don't love what you're doing, don't bother. 


So many people we talked to encouraged us to go after the work we love, and it was so refreshing to hear. 


I think a lot of us are fully expecting to hate our first, second and even third jobs, viewing them as a stepping stone to what we eventually would like to do. But the journalists we talked to didn't see the point in that. They believed that every step we take should be as close to our end goal as possible.


We got into these majors because we love storytelling. We each have different topics and specialties that interest us and I think it was a great reminder to keep our eye on the prize and never forget where our original love is rooted.


Lesson Five

Find who you are and be unapologetically you


While you do need to have a number of skill to be successful now, there is a danger of being too much of a generalist. 


You have to find something that makes you unique and special and embrace that. 


So many people we met with talked about personal branding, but I think it's so much more than that. If you don't know who you are or what you care about, then no one else will. 


We may not know exactly what we want to do right now, but many of us have an idea or a curiosity. I think that while we still have time, we should put a little effort into nurturing our interests and figuring out who we are as storytellers. 


Lesson Six

Be a good human


At so many places we went, having a good attitude and putting care into your work went such a long way. 


You may not have the most talent, but if you're available and you take a little time to write a proper caption or collect all important information, you're already doing better than someone else with loads of talent and a massive ego. 


At the end of the day, you may be able to write story or take a good picture, but if you're impossible to deal with and you don't have a strong work ethic, then why are you wasting your time. 


It all comes back to loving what you do. Every person we met with LOVED what they do. They wouldn't be where they are if they didn't and we won't find success if we don't love what we're doing either. 


***


This trip didn't end when we left New York City. The people we met and the connections we've made are just as valuable as what we learn inside of the classroom. 


We were each given a small window into this world that we all so desperately want to be a part of and no one can make us take the next step but is. 


Now it's time to take what we learned, acknowledge what we have yet to learn and dedicate the rest of our time in school to creating work and acquiring skills that will get us to where we want to be. 


Thank you for following along with me on this incredible experience and thank you William for letting me have it. 

RIT Photojournalism Trip - NYC

10.21.2016

Day Five


Today was our final and most interesting day of the trip so far. 


We met with two young media companies who are doing away with old school tradition and are making their own paths in journalism and creative work. 


We also got to finish our night at an alumni reception, which was a nice reminder of just how many talented and wonderful people took the same path to success that we are. 


Blue Chalk


At Blue Chalk Media, we met with Chief Operating Officer Pam Huling, Social Media Manager Ruth Aravena and we also had a Skype session with Creative Director Rob Finch and Chief Executive Officer Greg Moyer. As I said yesterday, most of us got to meet with Huling just a few weeks ago when she came for a visit at RIT. 


When she was in Rochester, she talked with us about what Blue Chalk does with branded content and documentary pieces, but on this visit she took us through a completely different side of Blue Chalk: the business side. 


At every place we have been to this week, we have focused entirely on the work that they produce, but we've never been told about the back end of things. The practical side of running a business and how a story comes together from start to finish. 


Blue Chalk also has a different process than most of the publications we went to, because they produce content for clients, so there is an added element to their process. 


Huling talked about the teams that work together to create their projects, which consist of a producer, an editor and a shooter. Right now, Blue Chalk has about 67 projects in production with only 15 full time employees. 


Blue Chalk tries to create teams who they think will be successful and productive based on personality types, talents and what is needed for a given project. They don't just draw names out of a hat. They want to put people together who are going to work well together and enjoy what they are doing, which brings me to what I believe is the most important part of what Huling talked about. 


Blue Chalk cares deeply about their employees. They want them to be happy, healthy and well taken care of so that they can focus on their work and not on whether or not they have health insurance. Part of why they chose to make branded content is because it is more profitable than straight journalism and they want people who care about journalism and good, honest storytelling to be able to make a fair living doing what they love. 


Even though Blue Chalk is a young company, I think that a lot of other, more established companies could learn a thing or two from their business philosophy. 


We ended out time at Blue Chalk by playing a game of Good, Cheap, Fast. We each played different levels of photographers, editors, producers or major production companies, with two people acting as buyers. If you want something good and fast, it won't be cheap, so you have to make a choice. We all worked together to come up with two different ways of creating a project, and I think Huling was pretty impressed with our outcomes if I say so myself! 


When I was first introduced to Blue Chalk's work a few weeks ago, I had mixed feelings about it. Branded content is something that as a journalism student, we wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. However, after hearing more about the business side of things today and understanding the reasons behind why they do what they do, I don't think I could imagine a better place to work and I have a very serious eye on Blue Chalk Media. 


Carrot Creative


Carrot Creative was probably the most interesting places we went to all week.


Carrot is essentially Vice's advertising agency. They create advertisements and deliverables for a number of major brands like Target, Ferrari, Chipotle and the NBA. 


They create video projects, traditional still image ads, GIF's, Instagram ads and even more. If you can think of it, they create it for the brands that they work for. 


The team at Carrot was very young and creative and most of them actually had some sort of connection to news in their pasts and they apply some of those principles to the work they do now. 


We met with a number of people, including: Creative Director Tyler Pierce, Creative Director Harun Zankel, Production Coordinator Liz Stallmeyer, Producer Austen Williams, People and Culture Specialist Madison Olson and Director of Content Juliette Richey. Each of them talked about the different paths that they took to end up at Carrot, and each one of them took a number of jobs that they never expected to and now have positions that they never would have imagined when they began their careers. 


I think that was the biggest takeaway from our stop at Carrot, which was repetitive of what we have heard this week. Just because you think you want to do one thing, doesn't mean you won't fall into a job that suits you better. There are so many jobs in this industry and so many different ways to use our talents. 


***


Our night ended at a reception with about 100 RIT photo alumni. Obviously I was the odd ball, as I was the only one there who didn't know how to take a picture, but I felt so welcome by everyone I met. 


Each person that enters the RIT photo community instantly becomes part of a big family that I couldn't be more proud to be a part of (even if I am kind of like the second cousin, twice removed).


Not only are they all so talented, they are also all incredibly encouraging and willing to help you take the next step toward your goal. 


On my drive home tonight, I began the reflection process of this trip. It was an incredible experience that I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of and over the next few days and after a little sleep, I can't wait to see how this time in New York is going to shape my next step. 


RIT Photojournalism Trip - NYC

10.20.2016

Day Four


When this trip began, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of places we were going and all of the information that was being pelted at us. But as the end of our time in New York nears, it feels like I'm desperately trying to cling to each and every word our hosts speak. 


A lot of people in this business can be cynical or burnt out and I feel like we may have met a few of them while on this trip. 


Today we met the complete opposite. 


We spent our day with people from Time magazine, Sports Illustrated, Bloomberg and Bloomberg Businessweek. Each person we met today was so alive with passion and excitement for what they do. They adore their jobs and when I meet people who are still so excited to work after more than a decade in the business, it makes me just as excited to be entering this field. 


Time

"I would have done anything except give up."

- Myles Little, Time


We began our day at Time where we met with Time magazine Senior Photo Editor Myles Little. 


In regards to being a photographer, Time was a bit different from some of the other publications we have been to. Where others insisted that photographers and journalists need to do more than just take pictures or just write, Time actually looks for specialized photographers who are great at doing whatever unique thing it is that they do. 


What makes Time a bit more challenging is that they are more drawn to established photographers who have a name and who are already well established in the industry. Additionally, they also often pull images from their archives whenever possible instead of creating new images for their covers and stories. 


I think for some, this was a little discouraging. 


However, on that same note, I felt like Little made an excellent point about making a name for yourself. No one knows your vision or your aesthetic better than you do, so you should take the time to dig deep and figure out who are and what you represent so that you can brand yourself to the world. 


Little said that your name should essentially be short hand for a list of two or three things that represents who you are and what you do. I think that taking the time to develop portfolios and bodies of work that reflect that is something we all need to make sure we take the time to do while we are all still in school.


Moving away from photography, Little took quite a bit of time speaking on a more practical level about just how hard he had to work to succeed in this business. We all know that it's hard work, but not everyone likes to talk about how much it can suck sometimes. Crappy apartments, schmoozing to make connections and hustling from sunrise to sunset are all a part of what it takes to succeed. 


After speaking with Little, we got to meet LightBox Editor Olivier Laurent. 


I loved speaking with Laurent because so much of what he had to say was applicable across journalism disciplines. 


Laurent placed so much emphasis on the journalism part of photojournalism, reminding all of us that we are journalists first, regardless of the mediums we use to tell stories. He talked about how as journalists, we need to have the answers to all of the questions. You may be the most talented photographer or writer out there, but if you don't take the time to ask people's names or basic information, it means nothing. 


He also spoke about timing. So much of getting published is knowing when to pitch your work to editors. If you pitch a holiday story three days after the holiday, no one is going to care. 


While it can be hard to hold your work, sometimes it is more likely to find success if you have the maturity and the discipline to save it until it will have a greater impact on the audience. 


Along the same lines of having patience, Laurent also mentioned how some of the best breaking news work is done after all of the major, well known reporters leave and you can have the opportunity to approach the story from a completely different angle. Never tell the same story everyone else is. Tell your own story and you are more likely to be noticed. 


Sports Illustrated


We didn't have a ton of time to spend at Sports Illustrated, but the time we did have was so incredibly encouraging. Marguerite Schropp, director of photography, and Erick Rasco, director of photo operations were two of the most energetic, positive and motivating people I have met in New York. 


Schropp has worked for the magazine for 24 years. It's all she knows and it didn't seem like there was anywhere else in the world she would want to be. 


One of the most interesting things she talked about in regards to Sports Illustrated was how behind they were with their digital and social media content. We've heard so much this week about how so many resources are now dedicated to social media and digital efforts, so to hear a publication admit that they aren't doing well on that front was refreshing. 


It seemed like a lot of their trouble in that area came from a lack of departmental collaboration, which is hard to imagine given that they don't have a massive staff. However, it makes you realize that major publications are still struggling with their efforts to adapt to this changing media landscape. 


But their challenges could be an opportunity for one of us, we just have to take it.


Bloomberg


Bloomberg was easily the coolest place we have been to so far. The building itself is incredible and the people who work there are so excited and passionate about what they do.


Going in, I didn't really think I would have any interest in a business publication, but the work they are doing is so creative and the people who work there seem to love it so much that by the time I left, all I wanted was a job there. 


I don't even care what job. I'll clean the bathrooms. 


We began our meeting by talking with Graham Morrison, head of Americas/Visual Media at Bloomberg Media. 


A lot of what Morrison said reinforced most of what we have heard this week. He talked about having to work hard and hustle to be successful in this business and to have an open mind about all of the jobs available within the industry. So many of us want the obvious job, but I think there are a lot of other opportunities that may be a better fit. 


Morrison also talked about the death of the homepage, which is something I hadn't really thought of before. So much time and effort goes in to the layout of a websites home page, yet fewer people are seeing it. More people are getting their news from their Facebook and Twitter feeds, so they are going directly to stories of their interest and not bothering to visit home pages. As I said, this isn't something I had thought of before, so I wonder how all of the publications we have visited so far are adapting to this issue. 


Before we moved on to Bloomberg Businessweek, we also got to speak with Evan Ortiz, digital photo editor of Bloomberg Pursuits and Natasha Cholerton-Brown, managing editor for visual media. 


Again, they both said a lot of what we have already heard, but there was one thing that set them apart. 


They're so willing to help.


They really seemed to enjoy having us there and they encouraged us to reach out to them in a way that made it feel like they actually meant it. A lot of people offer, and it feels almost like a courtesy, but I don't think I will hesitate to get in touch with any one that we met today at Bloomberg.


Once the first round of folks at Bloomberg left, we got to talk with Clinton Cargill, director of photography for Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Pursuits as well as Aeriel Brown, deputy photo editor for Bloomberg. 


I don't think I can express how much I wish this trip had come before a major election project that we are working on for a few of our classes. I am a part of a team who was assigned to do a multimedia project that in some way represented taxes. The entire project has been an uphill battle, trying to figure out how to make taxes visual. 


This is essentially what the people at Bloomberg Businessweek do every day and they made it seem so easy. They were able explain all of the different ways that stories can be given an economic or business spin and be visually represented as well as being compelling and making sense. 


One of the other exciting things about Bloomberg Businessweek was how open to creativity they are. You would think that a business magazine would be as stiff and boring as they come, yet Bloomberg is all about pushing creativity to the next level. The crazier the idea the better and no one seemed afraid of a bad idea. I think the worst thing for someone just starting in the business is to be told that you're idea sucks. Being able to grow and learn in a place where there is no such thing as a bad idea would be the best that any young journalist could ask for. 


***


Our week in New York started so strong, but I think most of us felt like yesterday was kind of a weird day. I was beginning to worry that the week wouldn't end as positively as it began, but that worry is gone. 


Today was incredible. We got to meet with people who are passionate, excited, encouraging and so willing to help. 


This city and this business can seem so closed off and hard to get into, but the people we met with today provided us each a small window of opportunity. It's up to us to make our way in if we want to. 


We have one more day left and it's the one I've been looking the most forward to. We met with Pam Huling from Blue Chalk a few weeks ago and I was very drawn to the work they are doing. It is a place that I can easily see myself fitting in at and I can't wait for the opportunity to learn even more about the company. 


Oh, I almost forgot. It would be remiss of me to fail to mention the best part of the day. The utopia that is Bloomberg's snack floor. 

RIT Photojournalism Trip - NYC

10.19.2016

Day Three


Many of us on this trip think we know exactly what we want our future careers to look like. Some are set on shooting, others want to become editors and I want to be an MMJ. But I think that the biggest take away that I got from today's visits are that there are so many jobs and opportunities that we don't even know exist. 


Plus, some of those jobs don't actually exist yet, but we can create them. 


Today we met with people at The New York Times and Esquire and got two very different perspectives on what our futures have the potential to look like. 


The New York Times

"A great story takes time, passion and obsession."

- James Estrin, The New York Times


At The New York Times, we met with Lens Blog Co-Editor and Senior Staff Photographer James Estrin and Photo Editors Heather Casey and Elena Santos. 


Estrin really dug into all of the different opportunities that are available to up and coming journalists today. Unlike many we have heard from, Estrin had a much different opinion on the current photojournalism landscape. He believes photojournalism and journalism are in a bit of a golden age. 


In the past, you had to just be a photographer, but now, there are so many different jobs out there, that if you have multiple skills, you'll be able find somewhere that you can fit in. 


Additionally, he talked about the ability to create your own position, which is something that I had never heard of before. With technology developing at such a fast rate, the need for more people who can use it in a way that aligns with and advances a business is increasingly important. Because of this, people who are looking for jobs are able to go to a company and tell them what they can do for them and essentially, create a new position for themselves within the company. Plus, if they have multiple skills, they are even more valuable. For example, being able to use new technologies while also being able to shoot, write or code a website. 


One thing that I thought was very important that Estrin made a point to talk about was that, while it is important to have multiple skills, it is just as important that you are great at at least one of those skills. Being a Jack of all trades, master of none can be a very dangerous thing. This was especially important to myself, because as an MMJ, I will need to have multiple skills, but I also need to make sure that take the time to develop and master at least one of them in order to be a valuable asset to a news team. 


Another thing that Estrin talked about that you don't often hear, is that as we are looking for our first jobs, we should make sure that they are what we want to do. So often you hear that your first job is supposed to suck and you're supposed to hate it. But Estrin didn't seem to see that is true. He believed that it was important that whatever job you take should result in doing work that you want to be doing and not settling for less. I think that this was a very important lesson that is sometimes difficult to believe in. 


Photo Editors Heather Casey and Elena Santos also reinforced a lot of what Estrin said by talking about their current work. Both Casey and Santos are working on a new NYT Watching team that is essentially TV and movie reviews. Casey came from Time where she edited a magazine about an astronaut and Santos has worked for a number of sports publications, yet they are both working on an entertainment team. I think this just goes to show that it is crucial to keep an open mind about where you may end up. 


While it is important to try to do exactly what you want to do, it could also hold you back. 


Esquire

"Accumulate knowledge. Cultivate your own truth."

- Michael Norseng, Esquire


Esquire was a complete 180 from The New York Times. I think that for a lot of us, we may not be able to clearly imagine ourselves there, but it was still an excellent opportunity to learn about what else may be out there. 


Esquire is a much more commercial publication, so we didn't see as much traditional photojournalism work. Instead we saw a lot of portraits and fashion photography. Esquire isn't a news paper, so they have found that more and more, those types of images are what their target demographic is attracted to. 


We spoke with Michel Norseng who is the photo director at Esquire, who gave us an honest idea of the realities of being a photographer in his industry. Norseng sees hundreds of images from photographers each week, but many of them simply do not fit what the magazine is looking for. Just because he may think that a photographers work is great, doesn't mean that he can use it and because of that, a lot of photographers aren't getting calls. It seemed like there were really only a handful of photographers fit the bill of what Esquire looks for in photographers and that is just the reality of the commercial world. Not everyone fits the job. 


Norseng also made some excellent points about self branding. As I said, he sees hundreds of photographers work each week, and it is so important to stand out. Norseng personally preferred physical promo's to email blasts and I don't doubt that there are a number of other photo editors to feel the same way. It is so easy to delete an email, but a nice image or memorable image on a physical print is much more likely to be saved and viewed again. 


I think that one final point that Norseng made that we have heard many times throughout the course of the week is that Esquire is starting make a stronger push to incorporate video into their digital content. So many places have spoken about the importance of video and like I said before, at first glance, many of us may not picture ourselves at a place like Esquire, but if an opportunity were to arise with the magazine to do video work, I think that most of us would certainly consider it. 


***


Today was a much different day from the first two. We went to two very different places that exposed us to many of the jobs that many of us had never considered before. 


While it's likely that I won't end up somewhere like The New York Times or Esquire, I think it was very valuable to go to both places because they reminded me to be open to different job opportunities and experienced that I may have never taken the time to consider before. 


We all have an idea of what we think we want to do and every time we visit a new place, I think that our ideas are simultaneously reinforced and nudged into a new direction. 


We have two more day, six more visits and an infinite amount of opportunity to discover.  

RIT Photojournalism Trip - NYC

10.18.2016

Day Two

If day one was a lesson on where I could end up fitting in the journalism industry, day two was a lesson in where I don't. 


In no way do I see this as a negative though. I think it's just part of the process and the purpose of this trip. While all of the places we went to today were equally incredible and doing great work, I just couldn't see myself fitting in to two of them. 


CNN


CNN was like Disney World for me. So many people are critical of television, but I have such a love for the people and the work that goes into making TV news. There are so many different people at CNN doing so many different things and without one of them, everything would fall apart. 


Our tour guide for our time at the station was Digital Media Producer Tawanda Scott Sambou. Even though she hardly looked any older than most of us, Sambou has been with CNN for over a decade. The local news stations in the Rochester area are revolving doors. People are always coming and going, so to see someone stay in one place for that long tells me a lot about how great it must be to work there. 


Sambou began our tour at the editing bays where we got the opportunity to speak with editor Quentin Dunn. One of the most common themes of the week so far is that you have to be able to do it all and Dunn does everything. He edits breaking news, regular shows, feature pieces, digital pieces and long form work. Sometimes he is given exact directions by a producer who is breathing down his neck and other times he is given the raw material and is told to run. It didn't seem like any two days were the same for him and that's part of the appeal of television for me. 


Dunn also wasn't afraid to talk about the mistakes he had made. We all make mistakes and the best we can do is try to learn from them and move on. I will say though, working in a television on a much smaller scale, it was kind of nice to see that the big dogs make some of the same mistakes that the little guys do. 


From the editing bays, we moved on to one of the many newsrooms at CNN and to news editor Kristina Sgueglia. Sgueglia, to some degree, is the me of CNN. She organizes and coordinates reporters, photographers and teams to send out on assignment and is constantly making calls and digging around on social media to find stories. She also seemed to have pretty in-depth knowledge on the technology that reporters and photographers are using and that is something I would like to learn about more myself. 


After speaking with Sgueglia, we moved onto the social media team, who were so stereotypically a social media team, while also being inspiring in their passion for what they do. 


To work in news you have to be a competitor in all aspects of your work and social is no different. For CNN's social team, led by Ashley Codianni, director of Global Social Publishing for CNN, having the top trending stories is very important. They wanted to know what platforms we were using, who we were following and why, all to try to gain a little insight into what people in our demographic may be interested in. 


I think talking with the social media team made me even more aware of just how important social has become. A lot of times, social and TV are viewed as two completely different entities, with social being less important, but I don't think that is true. I think that what I saw today at CNN was that social is just as important and just as much thought and care goes into the content that is published on social media as there is in TV. There may even be more. With television, there is one way you need to format something at it really doesn't change much. On social though, there are so many different way that the same content has to be delivered in order to ensure that it captures the users attention. This means that there have to be even more people involved in the creation and distribution of the content. The social team was just as big as the news team and seemed to garner just as much respect. 


After social, we were lucky enough to catch a bit of Carol Costello filming Newsroom live. The studio is literally in the middle of one of the newsrooms. People were doing work, making phone calls and having conversations while Costello was on live television. I could have stayed and watched all day! 


After dragging us away from the filming of Newsroom, we got the opportunity to speak with Photo Editor Bernadette Tauzon. So much of what we have learned from Jenn Poggi in our Picture Editing class was reinforced by what Tauzon talked about. 


Tauzon goes through many of the same exact steps that we are being taught in order to find images, create a successful edit and develop a narrative using pictures. 


It was very interesting to me that they didn't have any staff photographers in house. I guess it is probably more cost effective to use freelancers and wire services for content, but I never would have thought that there weren't at least one or two staff photographers in house. 


We wrapped up our time at CNN with a trip to the set where Anderson Cooper films Anderson Cooper 360. We sat at the desk and took the obligatory set picture and even though we were only on his set for a minute, it gave me something else to work toward. 


Magnum Foundation


The Magnum Foundation was the first place we have gone to that I couldn't really see where I would fit in. 


We met with Alexis Lambrou, Program Coordinator of The Magnum Foundation, who spoke with us about all of the incredible things that the foundation does for photojournalists. Essentially, they help support independent and long-term photography projects through things like grants and fellowships. Most of the funding and support they offer goes to photographers outside of the United States who have already established projects and just need the help to advance or finish them. 


So many stories that deserve to be told get tossed away because the resources and funds run out and few journalists have the luxury of devoting significant time and money into them. To have an aid like The Magnum Foundation, in my opinion, is vitally important to ensuring that important issues get the attention they deserve. Additionally, The Magnum Foundation isn't just interested in traditional forms of documentary work. They welcome and even encourage creative and innovative ways photographers and storytellers use to to document issues in a more compelling and powerful way.


Before meeting with Lambrou, I didn't really realize that there were support systems like the foundation out there for journalists to use in order to do their stories justice. Finances are always an issue, but it's nice to know that there are people out there who care about what we do and who want to help tell important stories in whatever way that may be. 


Getty Images


Getty was another place that I didn't really feel like I fit in at. However, there were some things that they do in their organization and with their employees that I think are very valuable and that I would like to try to find in a future job. 


At Getty, we met with Director of Photography Sandy Ciric, Photo Desk Editor Hilary Markiewicz and Managing Editor Pierce Wright. 


Getty was a lot different than the other places that we have visited so far in that they really drain all of their energy into their photos. The other organizations like AP and Reuters are really trying to establish themselves in video work and on social media platforms, yet Getty seems to really be sticking true to what they do best. 


In staying committed to who they are, Getty allows their photographers to really dig in to a specialty, which is a lot different from what we've heard so far this trip. Most places say that you have to be able to switch what you're doing at the drop of a hat and adapt to whatever situation you're in. Getty doesn't say that. 


Instead, they allow their photographers to do what they do best in order to ensure that they are getting the best possible image that they can then provide for their customers to use. The ability to commit to something and have a specialty is something that I find to be very important. I don't want to be average at a lot of things, I want to be great at one thing. 


Another interesting aspect of Getty is that they don't have any writers. This means that their photographers need to be able to research, plan and coordinate all on their own. Because most of this work is done before they even pitch the story, I wouldn't think that it would get in the way when they are shooting, however it is a lot more work that is added onto the photographer. While this may pose additional challenges, my guess is that it probably results in even better work, because the photographers knowledge of their subject or the situation is as intimate as it can be. 


***


So while I'm sure when I lay my head down tonight, I'll dream of sitting in Anderson Cooper's desk, I probably won't think too much about The Magnum Foundation and Getty.


And I think that's okay. 


Going into this trip and being a bit of an outsider, I was worried that only one or two places would appeal to me. But the reality is that the exact opposite has been true. More places have attracted me than I imagined and even more, they are places that I never would have even considered before walking through their doors. 


We only have three days left, which doesn't seem like enough and I'm looking forward to whatever other surprises may be in store for me. 

RIT Photojournalism Trip - NYC

10.17.2016

Day One

One of the most important lessons ever taught to me by a very smart man who hosts a radio show is to always be open to having your mind changed. 


For a while now, I've been set on becoming a multimedia journalist. However, as I drove into the Upper East Side last night, it was with an open mind and a willingness to have my path into journalism changed. 


Over the next week, lead by RIT Photojournalism Chair William Snyder, me and 13 Photojournalism students will be visiting 14 different news and media organizations in New York and Brooklyn. Our goal is to better understand the world we are entering and to discover the many opportunities that are available to us. 


AP

"We mustn't forget, photography is a language."

- Santiago Lyon, AP


One day in the distant future, the excitement of walking into a newsroom may wear off, but not today.  


Walking into the AP's newsroom gave me an even bigger thrill than usual.   


We began the our day in AP's morning meeting and as an Assignment Editor, I felt right at home. Of course the AP's meeting was on a much larger scale than what I'm used to, with editors contributing via video feeds from places like Iraq, Washington and across the United States. 


Working in local news means constantly thinking about... local news. So to see a team of editors have knowledge about and discuss events from all over the world was incredible to me. They covered topics from conflict in Iraq and baseball games, to Obama's comments on high school graduation rates and Billy Bush getting fired. I'm always amazed by people who have such depth of knowledge on so many subjects and I can only hope to be half as knowledgable as the people I saw in the morning meeting today. 


After the morning meeting, our host, Vice President Santiago Lyon, gave a generous amount of his time talking with us about the AP and the future of journalism. 


As all of us know, journalism is going through a phase of major transition. Digital and mainstream media are intersecting and trying to understand how to work with one another and establish their place in a new social landscape. A lot of what Lyon talked about was how the AP has adapted and some of the different platforms and formats they have experimented with. 


One of the primary tools they now use is video. This surprised me, because when I think of AP, I think of stills. However, after hearing and seeing different examples of how the AP is using video and audio to tell stories, I felt like it was a place that I could potentially fit in at.


Lyon also touched on some of the most important things that the AP looks for in their hires and the number one quality was curiosity. 


I think that when I first became interested in journalism, I had a ton of curiosity that I couldn't rein in. But with school and work, I have lost a little bit of that curiosity. Going forward, I would like to make a conscious effort to nurture and regain that curiosity again. 


Human Rights Watch

"We're dealing with the most sensitive issue in the world. People's stories."

Veronica Matushaj, Human Rights Watch


After AP, we headed down the street to Human Rights Watch. Going in, I knew very little about who they were or what they did and to be honest, I thought it would be great to hear from them, but that it wouldn't be a place for me. 


Instead, I was greeted by two women who are so incredibly passionate about the work they do. Their work consumes every part of their being and it's all for the purpose of trying to help others with minimal self gain. 


As a young journalist, we all think that we can go out and save the world and all too soon we learn that we can't. Emma Daly, communications director and Veronica Matushaj, video director, never seemed to lose that hope and they are saving the world. 


Plus, they aren't just doing it through dry, written reports. They're utilizing video, audio and stills to tell stories in the most compelling and honest way possible. 


I fell in love with storytelling through film because of the fact that it allows you to express emotion on a different level. Human Rights Watch seemed to fall in love with it too and they are telling the stories that I want to tell, in the same way that I want to tell them. 


Now, I have always had mixed feelings about advocacy work because it rides a fine line that as a journalism student, we're told to steer clear of. However, when you look at the pros and cons and assess the incredible work they do, the respect they give their subjects, how much they care about having a credible reputation and the change they have brought about, it makes you want to be a part of their team. 


Buzzfeed


Buzzfeed was such a cool place to stop by. The newsroom was wide open and the culture was incredible. 


Most of the places we're going this week have been around for decades. But Buzzfeed is a young media company that I've witnessed grow and develop into a dominant media organization first hand. 


My first surprise was that they had an actual news team. I knew that Buzzfeed published news articles, but I didn't realize they were producing original content or or that news had its own department. 


When you think of Buzzfeed, you think of clickbait and silly articles, however, after meeting with Kate Bubacz, senior photo editor, it's clear that they put a lot of time into their news department. They have produced a lot of solid news pieces that have been picked up by other news organizations and they seem to have a lot of pride in that. 


They're also trying to do a lot internationally, going so far as to send reporters to conflict zones with security teams to ensure their safety. You don't spend the money on such as that if you don't care about it and this indicated to me that Buzzfeed is trying to take their news content to the next level. 


Reuters

"If you like the way it looks, make a picture."

David Burnett, photographer


We wrapped up our night at Reuters, where we spent an incredible five hours hearing from some of the most influential men in news. 


We began with Carlo Allegri, staff photographer for Reuters, who may very well be one of the hardest working people I have ever met. I've always wanted to be known for my work ethic and if I can have even an ounce of what Allegri has, then I'll be doing okay. 


Allegri spent less time talking about the technical side of things and more about the practical. He discussed his journey from freelancer to staff photographer and the hard work he put in to get himself there. 


We hear from everyone and our mother that communication is key, but I think Allegri takes communicating to a new level. By effectively communicating and being available at all times, Allegri rightfully earned his spot at Reuters. He emphasized being available and making sure that you keep a strong line of communication at all times. 


After Allegri, we were treated with a talk from Mitch Koppleman, Vice President of Broadcast at Reuters


Koppleman walked us through his journey up the news ladder and talked a bit about one of his most influential contributions in news, which was giving printed credit to the photographers in newspaper. 


I also think that one of the most interesting things he talked about was the importance of "street cred." Having been a photographer himself, he understands what the job is like and can better relate to those who work for him. He's not just a suit looking at dollar signs, he's one of them and it makes all the difference. 


After Koppleman, we were graced by the presence of news legend, Hal Buell. 


Buell took us on a ride throughout the evolution of photojournalism. I don't think I've ever heard anyone discuss photos with such care and intelligence. He was old school in the best way, yet open and accepting of newer techniques and technology. He understands change and progression and welcomes it with open arms. 


Buell was an incredible man and it was just an honor to sit in the same room. 


Following Buell, which was hard to do, was photographer Dave Burnett, who is one of the liveliest people I've ever come across! 


The man loves photography. As a journalism student, I may not have known what he was talking about in regards to technology, but there is no translation needed to express a love like his. To see that, after 50 years, his passion is still so strong was one of the best parts of the entire day. It is a tough industry and so many people get burned out. So to see someone with so much passion for what they do really made me hopeful for my future. 


Finally, we talked with freelance photo editor Brad Smith, who was also quite a character! 


He's been through a lot of different situations in the industry and was completely honest about each one of them which is always nice to hear. Not every part of our industry is good, a lot of it is ugly, so by acknowledging those parts, like poor pay and difficult jobs, we keep the issue relevant and hopefully push for change. 


Smith also made it okay to not shoot. You don't have to be a shooter to get into this business and be successful, you just have to be good at what you do. When you're good at what you do, people notice. 


Smith also talked a lot about persistence in regard to the difficulties he was having while trying to shoot a cover for Sports Illustrated on the Boston bombing. It's easy to get discouraged, but we are in a business where you have to be diplomatic, yet aggressive and I think that Smith has perfected that. 


***


Overall, I would say day one was a successful day. I can already feel my path shifting and morphing into a new shape and couldn't be more excited to see how the next four days in New York will transform my path.