Saturday, April 17, 2010

RIT Photo Trip + Internship

New York City.  A city filled with opportunity.  I had the chance to go on a trip this past week in New York with fellow classmates from RIT.  We ran around New York for five days straight listening to photo agencies, newspapers, and news organizations talk about the business of photojournalism and story-telling.  We visited MSNBC, Associated Press, Getty Images, New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Media Storm, and Magnum, to name a few.  At the end of the week, our class and a few media professionals gathered in a bar and talked about photography.  It was very important to me to talk to each individual one on one and I enjoyed each conversation I had last night.  I heard some helpful feedback on my work and what my future plans will be.  It was really helpful to go on this trip and I wish I could do this again next year.

Full Explanation:
This past week, my class and I had the opportunity to visit several organizations in New York City.  We visited, Associated Press, VII, Mediastorm, Bloomberg News, Getty Images, New York Times, Magnum, Human Rights Watch, and Sports Illustrated.  Each organization handled their photography in a different way and I noticed changes in the future of photojournalism.  The emphasis on improving our writing and video skills was brought up many times during the week.  In spite of all the changes to photojournalism, most people speaking to us still stressed the importance of a quality photograph to all of us.

On our first day of the trip we visited and the Associated Press.  At MSNBC, we received three separate tours showcasing the different aspects of MSNBC.  The two things MSNBC wanted to show our class was the everyday news coverage on TV and the online content to co-exist with daily coverage.  On the tour, our class saw the control room of the daily televised news on MSNBC and the actual New York City newsroom while they were recording live TV.  It was really interesting to see all of the fancy monitors and controls throughout the studio and all the people it takes to create shows we watch everyday.  In the afternoon, we visited the Associated Press.  The Director of Photography, Santiago Lyon, gave us an exclusive tour of the facilities.  After just seeing MSNBC, the AP wasn't as glorious but it was still interesting to see the headquarters of this giant wire service.  Santiago mentioned about the AP expanding regional divisions to give better regional coverage to their clients.  I think the Associated Press will become stronger if it covers more regional events because smaller newspapers with less resources will be able to get quality imagery from their region through the AP.  I also liked the dedication Santiago gives to upcoming photographers.  He mentioned to our group he would thoroughly look through any portfolio and give us feedback. 

After our first long day, we woke up early and headed over to VII.  This is the first photo agency on our trip.  It was interesting to hear how a photo agency ran and how hard it is to get inside VII.  I was also really surprised how small their office was and hearing only eight or so people run the whole backbone of the agency.  After VII our class headed over to Mediastorm for the afternoon.  I am really interested in multimedia and video, so Mediastorm was a must-see on my list for this trip.  Surprisingly, Mediastorm was a group of seven individuals working really hard on stories from photographers and clients.  Since Mediastorm was a small group of people, I was really interested to see how powerful hard-working people are in a group and how far they can succeed.  Mediastorm gave me ideas for my future and the endless possibilities you can achieve if you work hard enough.  We also saw the new Mediastorm website which was really cool and should be a big hit for their future growth.

The next thing on the list was Bloomberg News and Getty Images.  Bloomberg News was really nice the moment we walked into the door.  We got fancy picture IDs, free food, and an exclusive tour of the building.  After all the sight-seeing, we sat down with Dan Acker and Natasha Cholerton-Brown of the Picture Desk at Bloomberg News.  Their general idea of photography is driven towards press conferences, portraits, and picture stories related to business.  I was interested in Bloomberg News because I am also interested in business right now.  Next, we visited Getty Images.  Getty felt more personal in the office than AP which was really nice.  It was interesting to see Mario Tama's work and to hear different aspects from different editors.  Most of the editors brought up in their discussion to us about the importance of writing good captions and becoming a good writer.  One important thing I took away from Getty was writing good captions makes happy editors.

The next day, we traveled to the New York Times and Magnum.  At the New York Times, we got to speak with Michele McNally about the operation of the NY Times and the things she looks for in photographers.  She told us she is looking for photographers with passion for photography, making pictures is an attitude.  The amount of devotion sets photographers apart from one another.  At Magnum, we heard about the process of the photographers and how the agency works.  I really liked seeing all the books after books of contact sheets from each photographer at Magnum.  Of course we couldn't touch them but the amount of information contained in their small archive of contact sheets must be amazing.  I would really like to sit down sometime and look through a couple sets of contact sheets. 

Our last day in New York City started at the Human Rights Watch organization.  This organization isn't about photography, it is about reporting on problems with human rights all over the world.  Nonetheless, it was neat to see some of their publications and how they use photographs in the beginning to tell a story about the issue in the publication.  I felt it put a face on the problem and gave the documentation more power.  After finishing up at Humans Right Watch, we headed over to the Museum of Modern Art to view Henri Cartier Bressant's lifetime body of work.  Although the exhibit was quite large, it was interesting to see his development over time and his adaption to current events throughout his life.  Also showing at the MoMA is Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present.  I didn't know what to make of the whole exhibit but if she wanted us to feel uncomfortable at times, I think it worked well.  After visiting the Museum of Modern Art, we headed over to Sports Illustrated.  Going to SI was very important to me and it was really helpful.  I learned about sporting events and how photographers need to go into an event with a plan to cover the event.  Another thing I hear quite often not only from SI is about getting the safe pictures for the editors then explore the event for different moments that are interesting to the photographer.  Those images are just as important as any other image and might even get published instead.  Finally, the last important tip I heard from SI is learning to shoot quality portraits for any business we decide to go into.  Shooting quality portraits is a job every photographer must do in the business wherever they go. 

On Friday night last week, our class had the opportunity to talk with professionals we just met over the course of the week and talk to them one on one.  I enjoyed catching up with MSNBC's John MacKay that I met at NPPA's Northern Short Course a few months ago.  I got to speak with Alyssa Adams and Mirjam Evers from the Eddie Adams Workshop and ask them questions about this years workshop.  I also had the opportunity to speak with Mario Tama and Sandy Ciric from Getty Images about my portfolio.  They helped me gain insight on my future and help give me quality feedback on my portfolio.  Overall, Friday night was the best part of the trip and I really enjoyed talking to professionals one on one in the industry.

I have another four weeks left at RIT as a junior then I will be returning home to start an internship with News Herald in Willoughby, OH.  I plan on turning this blog into a “Photo A Day” from the work I produce at the News Herald.  I will use this blog as a way to show everyone my progress through the internship.  Should be a fun time!  

Here is a photo I leave with you from the trip.  It was nice to photograph some different scenery :)

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