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NYC Trip Day 2 – Style is Fleeting, but Substance Will Remain

NYC Trip Day 2

Today was a busy day that started out on the north side of Brooklyn on Jay st, which is coincidentally the same street that my cousin works on. After bumping into her, we walked one building over and sat in the lobby of VII, a collective of some pretty amazing photographers. We learned there what their organization was trying to do in terms of changing up the current industry business model. We looked at some art that was hanging and we heard stories about photographers in sticky situations in foreign conflicts. It was quite interesting to see the “behind the scenes” crew that supports a photographer on assignment.

After a rushed, yet delicious lunch of crepes, we had a meeting with Mediastorm. I’ve never really heard of Mediastorm before coming to their offices but I have to say that they were pretty incredible. A small business of only about a dozen or less people working on some pretty incredible multimedia projects. They had done work for some pretty huge clients including Starbucks and the UN. Our guide was Brian Storm himself, creator and owner of Mediastorm. He stressed something I was familiar with, work culture, and also discussed with us the importance of the story. In fact, that was the one thing I took away from meeting with him and most everyone on this trip was the importance that a story is in capturing and holding people’s attention.

From there, our next stop was Getty images. I was quite excited to take the tour of their offices and have a discussion with four or five of their photo editors. They discussed with us what they expect with their photographers and I was quite shocked. They said they expect select photos, edited, prepped with correct cutline information and metadeta, uploaded to their server within 5-10 minutes from the start of an event. Literally, editing on the fly whilst being responsible to get “the shot.” This is something I’m most definitely going to have to practice.

They stressed certain things that they expected from a photographer, of course you have to take great and amazing photos, but on top of that, they expected the photographer to be a good communicator, always honest, pays close attention to detail, has the ability to problem solve on the fly, and must always be interested in the world and constantly looking for ideas. I admit, I was quite surprised because these things seem so basic. They should be fundamentals in who we are as people but from what they told us is there are plenty of photographers out there that don’t have these traits and therefore makes it extremely difficult for them to work with them.

Here was also the first time we really go into what it means to be a photo editor and what qualities are expected for them as well. Here they want good communication with not just the staff but with the photographers that are out taking the photos and to have compassion and sincerity in their conversations with the photographers, even sometimes as the photos are streaming in, the courage to make crucial editing decisions, if an editor can explain in a non-visual way what makes a good photo, the ability to speak openly and distinctly, the comfort in being an editor, and the passion and self-motivation. Later at a party I asked Andreas Gebhard how one would go about getting a job as a photo editor. He said that if you were interested, he would sit you down with a folder full of photos, and have you sift through them and tell him which are the best ones. If you picked the right ones, whether you know why really or not, but if you picked the right ones then you’d have a job.

We then were able to ask questions, so I asked, “In what cities are there a lack of photographers for you to hire for freelance work.” Their response, “Seattle, Detroit, Austin, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Atlanta.” There were other places but these were the most lacking for quality photojournalists. Their response was quite uplifting and encouraging, finding out there was a possibility for so much work out there.

Someone else asked what they look for in a good sports photographer, their response was they want clean backgrounds and the photographer to have the ability to “deconstruct a scene at an event at 1/1000th of a second.”

They also stressed story, to be conscious of the story before you get there, do your homework.

William Snyder, amazing guy who I’ll have to write a blog post about soon, asked, “What is an editor’s pet peeves.” They gave some and some general advice, I’m going to just list them here:

– Young photographers buying plane tickets and going out and taking pictures of someone in need. Instead, go next door and get into your neighbors lives. Best journalism is getting stories where something isn’t always obvious. The former is just your ability to have a passport.

– People who have it good and complain

– Apathy about story and photographs, etc. Care about everything you do, your resume, business cards, put some thought behind everything. Continue your education even after college. Marry this profession and make this a part of your life

– Don’t forget the journalist part, know why you’re there or why it’s [the story] significant. Second sentence [concerning captions] is relevancy and why you’re there. You are there to tell the story and know why you are telling that story.

– Don’t be spoon-fed, just figure it out, find solutions on your own.

– Don’t make excuses, if you mess up, just be honest.

– It is a small business community, everyone knows each other so build yourself a good reputation.

Lastly, they said that adapting and problem solving are key. If your cameras are confiscated and now you have nothing to shoot with what will you do? If your satellite link is broken and you have to upload to meet a deadline how can you? These problems need to be solved by you and not your photo editor, however, you should stay in constant contact with your team about these issues.

Later that night, I attended The Bubble Lounge, this is where I had a great conversation with my professor William Snyder and Santiago Lyons, the director of Associated Press. We talked about the differences in taking a technically perfect photo and getting the lasting, emotional, story telling image. I also shared with him my experiences at RIT and how the lessons I’ve learned there have helped me become a better photographer and journalist.


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