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.