1. Boston, MA. June 2014. © Zack DeClerck.

    Top: Hammock Hangout on the Charles.
    Bottom: Boston Bike Party

     
  2. Hubert and Bradley pace in front of the Dorothy Day House, talking to themselves.

    streetviewroc
    :

    South Avenue. Rochester, NY. Spring 2014. © Zack DeClerck. Follow Story here.

     
  3. Alonzo. St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality. Rochester, NY. © Zack DeClerck 2014.

     
  4. Route 104. North Side. Rochester, NY. © Zack DeClerck 2014.

     
  5. Bradley. Solitaire. Dorothy Day House. Rochester, NY. © Zack DeClerck 2014.

     
  6. Post-Alexia Grant Chili Competition. Syracuse, NY. Winter 2014. © Zack DeClerck

     
  7. Imagine RIT Festival 2014. © Zack DeClerck.

     
  8. streetviewroc:

    Pennsylvania Ave. Rochester, NY. July 2012. © Zack DeClerck.

     

  9. Reflection on RIT Photojournalism Visit to New York

    After spending a week in New York City, talking with top publications and organizations in the field, I’m optimistic about the future of photojournalism and my ability to find my place in it. I believe the mindset of collaboration and cooperation rather than competition is necessary. The 21st century has provided a virtual venue. The internet is still a blank canvas, and It is our responsibility as storytellers to bring order to the chaos of imagery that exists.

    Brian Storm of Media Storm said it himself. “Start your own business. We are not hurting for work. There is plenty to go around.” The only condition to what he said is that the content has to be really powerful. Made clear throughout the trip, was the amount of work and dedication that is required to break through the noise. Nobody is going to pay us for another “pretty picture”. Not anymore. Quality storytelling is what will separate us from the guy with the iPhone or the Google Glass.

    The size of the professional community is as small as Professor William Snyder has told us. Everybody knows everybody and very few people stay put at a single company for too long. A theme that was overwhelmingly present throughout the week was the importance of integrity. Word travels fast and I plan on being known as the photographer that can be trusted to be honest and principled in my work.

    Everyday was full of great insight. Santiago Lyon at AP emphasized the need to practice creating visual variety on even the most mundane subjects. Scott Eells and Graham Morrison at Bloomberg emphasized the importance of making pictures that keep relevance for longer periods of time. It was refreshing to hear James Estrin at NY Times note the average age of people moving up in the field being much younger than it was 15 or 20 years ago. Jonathan Woods at TIME demonstrated the need to constantly be learning new technical skills such as coding or video to be a continually valuable asset to the publication and we received several hours of diverse and often contradicting perspectives at Getty Images.  

    The whole week has been a lot to absorb. I take from this week an idea of an industry that is in the midst of a great amount of change. We will be able to be a part of this exciting time in visual journalism if we work hard, remain humble, remain teachable, are reliable, and maintain our integrity. Now back in Rochester, I look forward to keeping in touch with the people the we’ve met this past week and moving forward with my career alongside my peers in the RIT Photojournalism program.

     
  10. streetviewroc:

    Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. April 2014. © Zack DeClerck.

     

  11. RIT Photojournalism trip to New York: Day 5

    My trip to New York with my RIT classmates came to a close on Friday with visits at TIME Magazine and Sports Illustrated.

    Kira Pollack, Director of Photography & Visual Enterprise, and Jonathan Woods, Senior Editor of Online & Interactive, presented us with TIME’s recent work and discussed their process of creating that work. Pollock created TIME’s documentary department, Red Border Films. One of Red Border Films most successful productions has been “Rise”, which illustrated the pride of the iron workers that built One World Trade Center. One worker had family members that built the Empire State Building and the former Twin Towers. Related to that Topic, Jonathan Woods shared his experience and the importance of persistence, flexibility, and persuasion as he worked with the port authority and a variety of engineers to orchestrate “The Top of America” cover photo, a 360 degree panorama made with GigaPan technology. 

    We spent a lot of time discussing Woods’ career path, work flow, and how the two have complemented each other. For example, one of Woods’ skills is his ability to adapt and continue learning new skills to make himself valuable. Woods said, “this is an 18 hours a day, 7 days a week operation. You need to invent systems to save yourself time.” He has taught himself how to code so he could design a system to make TIME’s photo intake system more efficient, going from a 15 minute process to a 60 second process. He also emphasized the importance of being able to pitch a story in a brief and persuasive way, helping non-visual people visualize it. He asked my classmates and myself to summarize the stories that we’re currently working on in one sentence. The results of this exercise relieved that most of us need to continue to practice in order to sell our stories. It’s all about the power of the pitch. 

    The last stop on our information-packed trip was Sports Illustrated (SI). Brad Smith, Director of Photography, shared about the process in which SI works with photographers. He mentioned the importance of knowing your subject. The Mayor of Boston didm’t initially want to be involved with the “Boston Strong” cover, reflecting on the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. However, when he was able to pitch the cover to the mayor as an opportunity for political capital, the Mayor changed his mind. Smith was very appreciative of photographers, explaining that it’s not just about snapping the picture, but also working with people and being to organize, problem solve, and remain calm and collected. Smith Commended photographer Gregory Heisler on his ability to rally 3,000 people into a successful photograph. 

     
  12. Mobile Grid. New York, New York. April 2014. © Zack DeClerck

     

  13. RIT Photojournalism trip to New York: Day 4

    This week, my classmates and I have visited various institutions, organizations, and publications around Manhattan to learn about their role in the world of photojournalism. This is an exciting opportunity for my peers and myself to network and get an idea for different career paths, which there are many.

    Open Society Foundations (OSF) is an umbrella non-profit organization that houses many programs both domestic and abroad to promote healthy communities, social justice, and transparency. The program that relates the most to us is the Documentary Photography Project. This Project believes that photography is an excellent tool to drive change. The project features “Moving Walls” an exhibit which we saw at their New York office and a blog called “Voices”. Grants are also awarded to photographers and non-profits doing documentary work. Last year, there were thirteen grants awarded. Yukiko Yamagata, Associate Director, and Annick Shen, Senior Communications Coordinator,  shared with us about their aesthetic, grant-witting, the use of video, and how to be a photographer that editors enjoy working with (good communication, reliability, adaptable, ect.). I had met Yamagata at the Alexia Grant judging in Syracuse a few months ago and remember our conversation then. It goes to show that this is a really small business.

    Following OSF, we went to the Mashable office on Park Ave. Christina Ascani, a recent RIT alum, is the staff photographer and photo editor at Mashable. The environment at Mashable was unlike a typical newsroom. Looking around, the median age of employees seemed to be in their mid-20s, which is exciting to see when there have been such a lack of jobs for college grads in recent years. Mashable thrives on it’s social media base. Ascani actually informed us that the social media team is the largest department. While the personality of the online publication seems to be on the more light-hearted side, Mashable has become a respected news source. Like MediaStorm, which we visited yesterday, Mashable started in 2005. The ability for small companies to break into the scene like this is very exciting. The office relies heavily on wire services for stories that can’t be shot by Ascani, but she says that an increase in freelancers is in the future for the company.

    Getty Images was our last official stop for the day. Pancho Bernadconi, Sandy Ciric, and Pierce Wright (an RIT Alum), all of the News department, shared with us their own career paths, what it takes to make it as a freelancer, and the breakdown of Getty’s structure. One skill highlighted was the ability to approach every assignment with enthusiasm, to make a boring situation interesting. All Three editors agreed this really made a photographer stand out. Anyone can photograph a riot in Egypt. Bernadconi described it as the unphoto: the ability to convey a story with information and emotion when most people would say there is nothing to photograph. Talking about style on sticking out aesthetically, Bernadconi mentioned that there is a journalistic box that we need to fit in. However, we should stay as close to the edges of that box as possible when thinking about composition. We were also encouraged to freelance out of Phoenix  and Detroit because of the news-photographer ratio. Knowing your audience, knowing why you’re covering a story, and staying teachable are all important skills, but our integrity is the most important asset that we must always hold on to.

    In the evening, our professor, William Snyder, organized an alum and friends gathering for food and drinks. While there, we sold copies of “Testament”, Chris Hondros’ book. Last fall, RIT’s chapter raised of $5,000 for the Chris Hondros Fund. This gathering was an awesome opportunity to continue the conversations started earlier in the week. I enjoyed seeing the strong sense of community. There certainly were a lot of characters. Andreas Gebhard shared with me his journey into the management world and how he has learned to take pride in his companies name in the byline, rather than his own. Bruce Byers shared his humorous instagram feed with us and we talked about New York City, RIT, and video on the train back uptown. Michelle Mcloughlin, who I had met at NPPA’s Northern Short Course in March, told me that you can do long-term stories as a freelancer if you develop long-term trust with your editor. It’s less about the publication and more about the editor, she said.

    The energy of this trip has been great. The people that are known in this business are known, and know each-other, because of their love and passion for photography and story-telling. It is exciting to have such an opportunity to learn from them and be entering the profession when the future is so unknown and malleable.

     

  14. RIT Photojournalism trip to New York: Day 3

    This week, I will be visiting various institutions, organizations, and publications around Manhattan to learn about their role in the world of photojournalism. This is an exciting opportunity for my peers and myself to network and get an idea for different career paths.

    Our day started with a visit with Brian Storm, Founder and Executive Producer of MediaStorm, in downtown Brooklyn. This visit was very exciting as Brian’s enthusiasm to shake up the status quo in the media world was contagious. MediaStorm has a current staff of 17 people, has existed in its current state for less than ten years, and is direct competition with the massive media conglomerates that held control of the industry in the 20th century. Brian encouraged all of us to start our own businesses and do journalism that is meaningful, sharing his business model with us and claiming that, with his model, there is more than enough work to go around. The size of MediaStorm would not have been achievable in the past because of technology. But, since the company has taken advantage of a rapidly changing world, they are able to create content that matters eliminating all the bureaucracy, politics, and institutional complexities that exist for large media corporations. A Long Night, MediaStorm’s new 72 min film about teen runaways struggling with prostitution in Seattle, is stuck in limbo because of it’s length. Brian wants it to reach a larger audience, but is frustrated with the bureaucracy and slow process of working with big names to get it to the television audience.

    In this rapidly changing world, Brian emphasizes the importance to diversify revenue sources. MediaStorm produces publication videos and interactives that have important moving content and display stunning cinematography. But, they also create revenue through client-funded work, having a software platform that generates income and maintains independence from outlets like YouTube and Vimeo, and have an online training program. Brian says that under-promising and over-performing on every job will keep clients returning. While MediaStorm has developed a revolutionary business model, it was apparent from our visit that Brian’s passion for beautiful, important, and emotionally compelling journalism is at the root of their growth. The company is purpose driven, not profit driven, and we were encouraged to always look ways to improve our story telling. Even if a piece won an award, it can always be made better. It will be exciting to see how this company continues to grow and how similar small companies will start to pop-up, quite possibly one started by myself or my peers at RIT.

    Starting off the day on this very exciting perspective was refreshing. The MediaStorm philosophy of low volume, high quality, is working and making a dent in the industry. If this philosophy can replace its opposite, we can make organize the chaos of our media-filled planet into content that makes a difference and inspires. Brian encouraged us not to waist our time starting from the bottom and trying to fight our way up. He believes that we can start doing what we want, right out of school, under one condition: We need to collaborate. He emphasized the importance to be honest about your skills and where they are lacking. Finding a group of people that have complementary skills and are willing to be a team is vital to this new business model.

    Visiting the New York Times, James Estrin shared his experience watching the evolution of photojournalism. Advice that resonated with me is that good photography is not about the product, but the process. Estrin expressed to us the importance of knowing why we photograph, and photographing a lot. If our motives are right, and we work on our craft, the pictures will follow. He also shared with us the few themes that make a photographer stickout to him. Employable photojournalists are hard workers, good story tellers, problem solvers, and reliable. An emphasis was also placed an making photographs that make us feel something. In our  media-saturated world, the photographs that make a emotional impact will be the only ones remembered. We also talked with Leslye Davis, a recent WKU grad, working at the NY Times full-time on multimedia. It was clear that she possessed the hard work and dedication the Estrin cited. Her presence and involvement also showed us that young people are getting hired in this industry.

    Estrin was the man who crafted Lens Blog and has helped make photographers the center of the conversation about photography, which either had been lost for decades. Since Lens has started, virtually every news publication in the world has followed. Estrin embraces the endless flow photos across the internet. It has never been easier to have our work seen. But, because there is so much to sift through, the work itself will not get us a job. We need to be someone that people enjoy working with and make that obvious.

    We ended the day with a lengthy stop at Reuters filled with a diverse group of photographers and photo editors. Adrees Latif, Editor in Charge for the United States, shared his raw take from a day commuting to work and a day jumping out of a helicopter. The act of looking at this digital contact sheet reeinfoced what we learned earlier at The Time’s, that photography is about the process. Mitch Koppelman, Vice President of Broadcast Services for the Americas and RIT alum, also gave us a warm welcome and shared his career path with us. We heard talks from two Reuters freelance photographers. Alan Chin, showed us work from early Taliban years, work from the disaster that was the Hurricane Katrina response, and a long-term personal project on his family’s hometown in China. and Lucas Jackson, who showed that persistent young photographers can do well if they work hard and tackle opportunities.

    Stephen Mayes, New York Head of VII Photo Agency, shared with us on the current and exciting evolution of visual storytelling. Mayes encouraged us to experiment, remain adaptable and to capitalize on the power of social media. Frank Fournier, who has worked for himself for almost the entirety of his photographic career shared the importance of passion in every story, the pursuit of self-understanding, and the value in patience. Fournier has done a large amount of work on HIV/AIDS or “the virus” as it was referred to in the 80s. Fournier emphasized that the stories we do are much more complex than we will first see, and that working at a pace that allows sensitivity, empathy, and understanding about the complex realities that people are in is important. Fournier also said that being “successful” will come and go, but to always be working. We will never know when our photography and our stories will be vitally important down the road. Fournier told us that the most important thing is to remember what we feel. Reoccurring themes today were the need to collaborate, the importance of using or at least considering all the available tools to tell stories (not just the still photograph), to be hard working and flexible, and to genuinely care about the work we do. Going back to nearly everything we learned to today, being open to our gut and our emotional connection to the story and it’s importance will drive work that effects others in the same way.

     

  15. RIT Photojournalism trip to New York: Day 2

    This week, I will be visiting various institutions, organizations, and publications around Manhattan to learn about their role in the world of photojournalism. This is an exciting opportunity for my peers and myself to network and get an idea for different career paths.

    Today started with a visit to the Wall Street Journal. Jack Van Antwerp, Director of Photography and RIT alum, talked with us about the realities of photography within the 21st century newspaper industry.
    The Wall Street Journal photography department is only six years old and the journal spent the previous 110 years without one. While the Journal still maintains its identity as a business paper, it has also encompassed a large amount of lifestyle and editorial content in recent years. Jack Van Antwerp emphasized the decline in demand for still photography, alone, and an increasing need for visual storytellers with a range of skills including still photography and video. Van Antwerp’s work also encompasses the use of illustrations and info-graphics. The growing interactivity of media consumption makes skills such as basic coding and design attractive attributes for those starting careers in photo editing. Van Antwerp emphasized that we should be making our contact with editors as smooth for them as possible. Helpful advice included the importance of website versatility when it comes to mobile devices and using links and drop box instead of email attachments. Emails should be brief informative, and include new work.

    The next stop for the day was Bloomberg. Scott Eells and Graham Morrison, provided us with refreshing perspectives, as they’re both experienced shooters that have moved to the editors desk. Eells is Bloomberg’s Chief Photographer and Morrison is Head of the Americas. Bloomberg, like the WSJ, is a publication focused on international business and finance. Eells and Morrison were quick to admit that there’s nothing “sexy” about their content, but it is still their job to illustrate very complex economics with photographs that are compelling and relatable. When Bloomberg hires photographers for a job, they need to be able to illustrate an abstract issue in a creative and clear way on a very tight timeline. As editors Eells and Morrison try to make “smart photos” that can be relevant for the next six months by using symbolism and staying away from specific events.

    We visited Kate Bubacq, a recent RIT alum, at ABCNews.com. Here, the pace of media in the 21st century was truly apparent as she shared with us about the silos that exist within ABC and how the .com functions under different guidelines and regulations than the broadcast medium. ABC relies mostly on wire services and social media to find content for the fast news cycle. Bubacq’s career has taken her through TV Guide and the New York Post before ABC and she points to good networking for making those opportunities possible.

    Shifting gears away from the news scene, we spent the afternoon with Teach for America, a non-profit serving underprivileged public schools across the United States. Two RIT alum, Megan Rossman, Director of Video, and Prisca Edwards, Video Assistant, expressed their love for nonprofit work as it allows for more experimentation than working in the news room. Rossman, who previously worked at the Washington Post did say that learning to work with different clients is a necessary skill. The video department at Teach for America is under a marketing umbrella, so the pieces are generally shorter, including 14-second Instagram videos. While the use of social media may have been seen as unprofessional several years ago. I’ve been noticing it’s use increasing in the professional world quite a bit. I really appreciated Rossman’s mention that many photographers and multimedia journalists are creating there own jobs. Going to an organization and making a compelling case for the benefit of my skills is becoming an attractive work strategy.  

    Common themes today were the importance of metadata and file organization, flexibility and creativity in making yourself an asset for employers. Another point made several times throughout the day was the value in being a well known photographer in a region that isn’t over saturated with photographers like New York or L.A.