D.C. Trip - Final Summary
The D.C. trip was one for the books. We visited 16 places in five days! I think the biggest thing that I realized was that I want to be able to do more than just sports. At the end of the day, photographing sports is my passion and is something that I want to be able to photograph regularly, whether that’s a sports story of a sporting event. Sports is what gets me up in the morning and makes me enjoy what I love to do. I don’t want to limit myself to just sports. I want sports to be part of what I do. I really enjoy what Brent Lewis is doing with The Undefeated. I like how it’s not just sports, its race and culture as well.
One place that I enjoyed was The Museum, our first stop. There were a lot of interesting artifacts from our history in there. The thing that interested me most at The Museum was the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery. The whole experience in the gallery was quite amazing. The walls are covered with winning images and you can sit down at a computer screen to scan through the winning entries from each year and listen to the photographer and editors talk about the images. Being able to listen to them speak on the images adds another dimension to what we are looking at and reading on the walls.
I think one thing that was reinforced during our trip to D.C. was that I would enjoy working for a wire service. I enjoy the challenge of going someplace and trying to make an interesting picture that tells the story of what is happening. I’m interested in covering sports and politics in the D.C. area. I think if this is the route I want to go, then D.C. is the place to be. D.C. is the home of politics and is surrounded by sports teams. Each of the wire services that we visited said that it is a competitive market and is tough to get into. I like the challenge of trying to see something different while in a competitive field in D.C. Some of the best photographers cover politics and sports in D.C. I think that it would push me to be better and try and find the unique and quirky moments that happen every day in our nations capital.
There were some places that surprised me while on our trip; Vox and Pew Charitable Trust. I knew about both Vox and Pew before visiting them but now, they are a place that I would enjoy working for. Kainaz Amaraia made some really good points in our visit that you can read below and really made me think about things. They are using different social media platforms to tell stories that are different than what everyone else is doing. Kainaz is essentially a one-man-band at Vox, which is only three and a half years old. Just by listening to her talk, you can tell that she is passionate about what she does and would be someone I would like to work with in the future.
At Pew, Bronwen Latimer and Lee Gillenwater really made me interested in what they are doing. They have great photo stories in their print and online as well as great video. Pew covers a wide variety of issues that I would be interested in working with them on, which you can read in my Day Five blog post. I was expecting to learn about data and fact checking but I didn’t really hear anything about the while visiting Pew. Bronwen is essentially just getting the photo department going for Pew and I think it will be very exciting to see where they go in the coming years.
One of the bigger highlights of the week was being able to sit in on the 4 p.m. budget meeting at The Washington Post. I’ve been in budget meetings during my previous internships but this one was different. It was pretty amazing to see Marty Baron walk in the Ben Bradlee conference room and begin the budget meeting. At one point after the budget meeting, Cal looked over at me and said “that was kind of intense.” I agree, it was intense but it was so interesting to listen to each person list of what they had on their plate for print/web for the next day. There is so much behind the scenes that people don’t ever see. I think that is why it was so interesting was because we don’t normally get to see that, especially a budget meeting with Baron. I’ve always enjoyed the photojournalism and journalism coming out of The Post.
Some thing that was hit on at almost everyplace we went was the use of emerging technology. This was especially talked about at The Washington Post. Their owner is Jeff Bezos, who was announced as the worlds richest person as I am writing this with a net worth of $90 billion. According to MaryAnne Golon, Bezos is very involved in emerging technologies and companies like Snapchat, Instagram, and other apps and technologies come to The Post to test things in the works and get their opinion. I think every place that we visited is trying to figure out what the next big technology is that the will be able to use to better cater to their audience.
National Geographic has their photographers do Instagram takeovers and they utilize the Instagram stories feature to show behind the scenes of what the photographers are covering. Part of our job is to take people to places they wouldn’t normally be able to go. I think this is a great way to get their followers engaged in what National Geographic is covering.
I think the big takeaway from this trip, as it was for the New York City trip junior year, is that the industry is small and everybody knows everyone. Be nice and don’t be an asshole. Work on things you’re passionate about and always make sure there’s something that makes you want to get up in the morning. What is it that makes you get up in the morning? It will be a long career if you don’t have something that makes you get out of bed everyday and make pictures.
Thanks again to everyone that helped our class make this trip possible. I had a great experience and who knows, maybe I’ll be in D.C. after I graduate in December.
D.C. Trip - Day Five
On day five of the #RITPJDCTRIP, I woke up with my glasses on, laptop knocked over on the floor, and the tv and lights still on. We didn’t make it back to Cal’s until 2 a.m.
After having a great time at the reception, JuliAnna, Dan, Joey, Brittainy, Cal, and myself went over to Eli’s house where we listened to music, watched some basketball on tv, and had a great time catching up with each other. Something that this industry has given me that I am very grateful for is friends all over the country, and the world. I have met some of the most amazing people because of photojournalism and photojournalism workshops. I have become very close with many people that I have met while attending these workshops and gatherings. I think being part of this industry can be tough at times but attending these workshops and gatherings can really help inspire and motivate you. I will always try to make it to photojournalism events.
After waking up, picking up my laptop and finishing my day four blog post, our first stop on our last day of meetings in D.C. was Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew is a data and fact center that informs the public about the “issues, attitudes and trends” that are happening around the world to enhance public dialogue. It is important to know that Pew Research is nonpartisan and just gives you the data and facts.
At Pew, we met with Bronwen Latimer, multimedia officer. It was interesting to listen to Bronwen talk about what she is doing as a multimedia officer at Pew. She talked about she is showing her colleagues the importance of photographs and how they can enhance the writing to a story. Bronwen showed us the first issue of the magazine that used visuals and, in my opinion, it looked very very well done. From the stories, layout, the feel of the paper in the magazine, it was really exciting to see that. There were many topics that Pew focuses on to tell stories. Some of the topics that I would be interested in covering for Pew would be juvenile delinquency, immigration, Antarctica, illegal and over fishing, penguins, cancer, voting and elections, construction, and religion. Yes, I am a sports guy but that is not the only thing I want to do. If I can tell meaningful stories about what is going on in the world and shoot sports as well, that will make me happy. I think that sports has helped me develop into the photographer I am today because of sports. Sports has helped me hone my eye and I’ve improve immensely starting at RIT in the fall of 2014.
Bronwen also talked about the importance of finding photo editors and keeping a relationship with them. “Find 10-12 photo editors that you want to work with for the rest of your life,” Bronwen said. “In order to find 10-12 people, you’ll have to meet 500.”
This is so true. You have to meet a lot of people to find the right ones to work with. If I am going to be a freelancer, I need to know editors in different areas of photojournalism. It isn’t just knowing 10-12 editors, it’s having a good relationship with 10-12 editors. I was surprised at what Pew is doing and I enjoyed learning about what they do and can see myself working with them in the future. I am also interested drone work and it was nice to see Lee Gillenwater, videographer, and some of his amazing video work that he is doing with Pew.
After an informative and interesting meeting at Pew, we had lunch and then made our way to our next stop, Smithsonian Magazine. Here, we met with Donny Bajohr, another RIT alum. It was nice to see Donny. Quick side not, Donny took me under his wing when I was a sophomore and went to my first Northern Short Course in the spring of 2015. I always enjoy seeing Donny and we have a good time when we get the chance to catch up.
Smithsonian Magazine records the arts, history, sciences, and culture that is going on around the world. In addition to talking with Donny, we met with Jeff Campagna, photo editor, and Quentin Nardi, chief photo editor. One thing Quentin talked about not getting stuck in a niche, and that really resonates with me. I want to be able to photograph sports at a very high level but it’s not the only thing I want to do. I want to be able to tell stories. I also think that I would excel at photographing politics in D.C. I know that it’s hard to do and it can get very boring, but I think when I get bored, that’s when I get creative. It’s also good to know that Smithsonian is interested in sports stories as long as there is some type of history behind it.
This week has been amazing. Like I said in the beginning, I always enjoy catching up with friends in the photo community and meeting new people. I get to see so many amazing people on these trips, new and old friends. It has been such an inspirational week. I believe our class had a great time this week and William did a fantastic job setting everything up. Each one of us in the class has more connections and friendships then when we started the week. We have learned so much in the past five days. Thank you to everyone that we met with this week and thank you to William, especially, for everything that he does for us and our program. William is doing great things for RIT PJ and I think he is just getting the program where he wants it to be. When I graduate in December, it’s going to be exciting to see where the program goes in the future. I really care about our program and it is so nice when I see fellow and former classmates are not only getting jobs and are employed, whether that’s freelance or staff, but are happy and enjoying what they are doing in the real world. I think that speaks to where our program is at the moment and to the dedication and passion William has for photojournalism, teaching students, and forming the community that we now have.
Until next time!
D.C. Trip - Day Four
On day four of our trip to Washington D.C., Cal, Brittainy, Dan and myself woke up a little bit later than we usually would. We only ended up leaving 10 minutes later then we wanted to, which isn’t too bad given that some of us woke up 12 minutes before we originally planned to leave. Cal’s mom was nice enough to drive us to the metro station so we didn’t need to spend time parking. Naturally, when we arrived at the metro, we realized that the orange train was delayed. We certainly were in for an interesting day.
After eventually getting on the metro, walking for a half of a mile, and stopping to grab a cold brew coffee, we arrived at National Geographic. After getting our name tags we were introduced to Mallory Benedict, photo editor, who brought us on a tour through National Geographic. Mallory brought us to the National Geographic archives, showed us the layout to one of the magazines that hasn’t been published yet, and then to a room where we were introduced to photo editors at National Geographic. Some of the people we met were Sarah Leen, director of photography, Vaughn Wallace, senior photo editor, and Mary Beth McAndrews, editions editor for National Geographic’s Snapchat. I enjoyed our conversation about how Instagram is almost like a new portfolio for photographers. Mallory said that “having a professionally minded Instagram is important.” I agree with her and I think it is very essential for photojournalists like us that are finishing school have a productive Instagram where we post at least once or twice a week. Many editors follow me on Instagram and I think it is important because it shows editors that we are constantly photographing and honing our eye. Instagram can be a blessing or a curse. I try to put my best work on Instagram and I think that if you want to survive in this industry, you have to have an up to date Instagram where you’re at least posting once a week. Editors take note in that and want to see what you’re working on. Even if what you’re working on isn’t something for one editor, it may be for another. This industry is small and everybody knows everybody. Another neat thing that National Geographic does is have their photographers do “Instagram takeovers” while working on a story. “When shooting assignments, (photographers) take a selfie video of what they are doing and walk the audience through what they are working on,” said Mallory. I think this is a neat concept because part of our job as photojournalists is to show people what is going on in the world and to bring them places they can’t physically be.
After our meeting, we then went down to the Cafe where William treated us all for lunch. Thank you again, William! During lunch, Eli Walker, RIT alum and associate photo editor on web at National Geographic, met up with us. It’s always nice to see alum doing great things, especially since Eli graduated in 2015. Congrats Eli!
After lunch, our class explored the museum before heading to our next stop, the Washington Post. As we arrived at Washington Post, Cal, Dan, and I were about an hour early for our 2:45 p.m. meeting. We decided to enter Franklin Square, a public park across the road from the Post. While relaxing and photographing the pigeons that were flying around the whole park in a huge flock, we were approached by a man who seemed to be in his late 40’s or early 50’s. This man told us that it was illegal to photograph people in public without their consent and in doing so we are invading his privacy. Little did he know that one, we were photographing the huge flock of pigeons that was flying around the park and two, we are photojournalist and know very well that it is not illegal to photograph people without their consent as they, and we, are in a public place. The guy quickly realized that we knew what we were talking about and eventually walked away after we explained to him that we are photojournalists and know our rights.
After an exciting break after National Geographic, we then went and met with MaryAnne Golon, assistant managing editor, Salwan Georges, staff photographer, Chloe Coleman, RIT alumna and photo editor at the Washington Post, and Oliver Laurent, photo editor. One thing that I noticed but was not said was the relationship MaryAnne has with her staff. She really believes in her staff and supports her photo editors and photographers. While in our meeting, MaryAnne had Salwan show his work from the devastation that hurricane Irma had on Barbuda. Salwan talked about never seeing anything like that before. Salwan and a writer were sent to Barbuda to document the total loss of the Caribbean island. While there, Salwan did both stills and video as well as producing an Instagram story on his personal Instagram, that was later used on the Washington Post Instagram. “Think like a multimedia journalist,” Salwan said. In today’s world, it’s not just being a photographer anymore. We have to be able to do video, audio, and stills. If we can do that as well as edit video on the fly, we are very valuable to news services. You have to be a one man band. After our initial meeting, our class was lucky enough to sit in on the Washington Post 4 p.m. budget meeting. I have sat in on many budget meetings but this one was particularly interesting to me because Marty Baron was there. If you don’t know who Marty Baron is, go watch the movie Spotlight. It was very neat to sit in on the budget meeting with a guy like Marty Baron as well as the amazing journalists, photojournalists, editors and photo editors that are at the Washington Post. I am a very close follower to the Washington Post and being able to visit with MaryAnne, Olivier, Salwan, Chloe, and then sit in on the budget meeting was very inspirational for me.
After finishing our meeting at the Washington Post, Cal and I went on a detour and visited the Washington Monument before going to our alumni reception at The Front Page. This is my first time in D.C. so being a tourist is acceptable. It was neat to see all of the tourists taking pictures as if they were “touching the top” of the monument or “pushing it over.”
Soon, we had arrived at The Front Page a little early so Cal and I helped William finish some last minute things he needed to get done before people arrived. After that, we all enjoyed our favorite beverage and conversed with our RIT alum. I always look forward to this reception because it’s good to see people who have come to our program and still be involved. I think we have a nice community at RITPJ and it’s great to keep things like this going.
So that was day four. Stay tuned for day five, our last day in D.C.
D.C. Trip - Day Three
On day three of our trip, Cal, Dan, Brittainy, JuliAnna, and myself were able to sleep in because we are staying at Cal’s house in Merrifield, Virginia, which is about 15 minutes away from where USA Today is located in McClean, Virginia. This is amazing to me because our meeting at USA Today was at 9:30 a.m. so sleeping in this week means waking up at 8 a.m.
At USA Today, we met with Andy Scott, deputy managing editor and director of unmanned aerial systems (drones), Jack Gruber, visual journalist, and Chris Powers, visual assignment editor. USA Today provides news to local publications around the U.S. that serves over 100 markets. USA Today takes local news from their markets and gives them national attention and vise versa. Andy, Chris, and Frank all gave us lots of advice that will help us as we finish up at RIT and enter the real world. Here are some of my favorite quotes from all three of them:
“You wanna be valued in the newsroom.”
“Think about who your audience is.”
“Embrace the change.”
“Read as much as you can, it’s only going to cut to the chase.”
“You’re part of the team.”
‘You have a voice, own it, own it from beginning to end.”
“Have a positive attitude, we want someone who will provide solutions.”
All of these things boil down to being prepared, knowing the story, and don’t be an asshole. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “don’t be an asshole,” I’d be rich. It like “don’t shake the baby.” That means “don’t shake the baby.”
As USA Today’s focus is on news, sports, and storytelling, it is a place that I would be interested in working at. I am particularly interested in their drone work, 360 video, and covering sports, politics and news for them. I remember watching a 360 video by USA Today of wing walkers on an airplane. That’s how I was introduced to 360 video. I am also interested in doing drone work for USA Today. I am taking a drone class at RIT this semester and I really want to start working drone stills and video into my workflow. I think that being able to show the world from above without having to hire a photographer or pilot to fly me around is something that is very useful in todays world.
After visiting with USA Today, we then drove from McClean, Virginia back to D.C. where we met with Kainaz Amaria, editor of Vox visuals. Vox is different from some of the places we have visited so for as they don’t tell you the news, they make sure you understand the news by using data, graphics, design, and photography. While visiting with Kainaz, she talked about an ethical dilemma about “taking pictures of someone on their worst day for my personal gain.” In other words, Kainaz has an issue with photographers trying to advance their career by taking pictures of people on their worst when the photographer isn’t working for a news service. I think that is a good point and made me think about the way that we as photojournalists are trying to make it in the industry.
“You’re always going to have a rabbit you’re chasing,” said Kainaz. She was referring to creating something so good in your career, that you’ll always be working to create something as good as what you’ve created before. I think it is always important to be “rabbit chasing” and producing great content as much as you can. I really enjoyed visiting Vox and I am really interested in what they are doing and where they go moving forward, as the company is only three and a half years old.
Our final visit of the day was to AARP where we met with Michael Wichita, director of photography, and Katrina Zook, photo editor. AARP’s mission is to show the quality of life as we age through information, advocacy and service. One thing that really stuck out to me was when Michael said, “I’m hiring you for your vision and you’re brain and how you see the world.” This was not the first time I heard this. When I went to Eddie Adams XXIX, my coaches were Pancho Bernasconi, vp/news at Getty Images, Damon Winter, staff photographer at New York Times, and Chelsea Matiash, previously at TIME and now at The Intercept. It was after our first day of shooting our stories with the theme of “equality.” We all had some pretty rough shoots and that’s when Pancho and Damon sat us down and told us we need to shoot how we always have. There’s a reason that we are all accepted to the Eddie Adams workshop and that we are all really good photographers. They told us to shoot how we always have and don’t try and shoot to impress someone. In the real world, editors don’t want us to change how we shoot because the reason they hired us is because of our style, vision, and who we are as a photojournalist. Since hearing that advice, it has always stuck with me in whatever I am shooting. I think this is one of the most influential things that I have heard since I first became interested in photojournalism.
Day three was a success and I am looking forward to day four. We will be visiting Washington Post and National Geographic tomorrow, as well as the RIT Alumni reception!
Stay tuned for day four!
D.C. Trip - Day Two
Day two of the D.C. trip was a busy day as we visited four places. We started off our day with a visit to The Undefeated. Here, we were greeted by Brent Lewis, senior photo editor. The Undefeated is a media company that intersects between sports, race, and culture. Brent spoke about telling good stories. “That’s what I care about,” said Lewis. The Undefeated prides themselves on doing stories on issues that other media companies won’t do. The mission of The Undefeated wants to open up discussions on current issues and tell the untold stories. The Undefeated is only one year old and is changing the way that stories are being told on race, culture, and sports. One thing that interests me about The Undefeated is their ability to connect athletes and their consumers on issues that may not be discussed by other media outlets. As an intern at The Players’ Tribune this summer, The Undefeated interests me because it is very similar to what The Players’ Tribune is doing. The Undefeated hits on the harder issues that are being discussed in sports, culture, and race in today’s society. In my previous blog post I talked about being interested in sports. I am particularly interested in working with The Undefeated because they tackle tough issues that go beyond sports, and that is what we need in today’s world.
After our visit to The Undefeated, William treated us for lunch. After we enjoyed our lunch at the “Chiptole without the disease” of Italian places, we then went to visit RIT alumna Jordan Roth who works as a multimedia coordinator at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The Pulitizer Center on Crisis Reporting is a non-profit organization that supports international journalism. The Pulitzer Center is funded by grants and foundations. One thing that I thought was interesting was that the Pulitzer Center has the grantees work as a team. In other words, the grants are awarded to one team of a photographer and a writer. They focus on under reported issues that has a global audience and want story proposals that can last as long as they can in today’s society.
It was nice to see a recent RIT grad enjoying her job and beginning a successful career that is not easy to get into. Jordan started off as an intern at the Pulitzer Center and now Jordan has a full time position. After visiting with Jordan, we then made our way to McClatchy. There we met with Sarah Whitmire, social media editor, Nicole Cvetnic, video producer, Maureen Chowdhury, video producer, Lindsay Claiborn, real-time desk editor, and Ben Connors, team lead for emerging video products. McClatchy is a media company that provides news to communities in more than 30 markets across America. They specialize in giving local news a national audience. Ben talked about the importance of virtual reality, augmented reality, 360 video, and photograms. I was interested in what Ben had to say about the advancement of technology, especially in story telling. As a photojournalist, it is important to keep up with technology. As new technology is emerging, there is better ways to tell certain stories. I believe it is also important to keep up with technology as a citizen.
We visited Reuters yesterday and spoke with Jim Bourg and Jonathan Ernst, but today we went back to Reuters where we met with Mitch Koppelman, vice president of broadcasts services at Reuters (also a RIT Alumni), Karen Kasmauski, freelancer and former photographer at National Geographic, Karen’s husband Bill Douthitt, photo editor at Science Magazine, Tom Kennedy, executive director of the American Society of Media Photographers, and Gabriella Demczuk, freelance photographer based in the D.C. and Baltimore area. I was happy that Gabriella showed work from when she had an internship with the New York Times. This was neat to see as our class will be graduating from RIT soon. I always like when photojournalist show work from when they were in our shoes. Gabriella told us to “look for small, off the beat moments,” and “it’s the long term projects with multiple chapters.” Gabriella also told us to “do something for you work every single day.” As a freelancer, it is always important to keep your website, business cards and leave behinds up to date. You never know when an editor may be looking at your website thinking about hiring you for an assignment. You want to show your best work and current work that you are working on.
Thank you to William for lunch and Mitch Koppelman for dinner at Reuters!