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.