Open Society Foundation
Our first destination was the Open Society Foundation (OSF). We were given time to look at the Moving Walls exhibition. I was most intrigued by Diana Markosian’s "Goodbye My Chechnya," which chronicles the coming of age of young Muslim girls in Chechnya, Russia. Moving Walls is part of the Documentary Photography Project that “through grants and exhibitions, supports photography to engage and mobilize people around issues of justice and human rights.” Next, Annick Shen, the senior communications coordinator for photography at the OSF and photo editor for the Documentary Photography Project, emphasized the importance of portfolio reviews and going above and beyond for your editors. Yukiko Yamagata, the associate director for the OSF Documentary Photography Project, explored the topic of applying for grants.
Next we visited the headquarters of the growing news website, technology and social media blog Mashable. RIT Alumna Christina Ascani, the assistant photo editor at Mashable, gave us a tour of the headquarters, which greatly reflected Mashable: young, quirky, and fun. Ascani explained that they strive to be a little bit more serious than BuzzFeed with their journalistic integrity. I was really attracted to their ability to experiment and be open-minded.
We spoke to Pancho Bernasconi, director of photography, Sandy Ciric, news managing editor, and RIT Alumnus Pierce Wright, picture desk manager. We began by passing around Chris Hondros’ book Testament, which the RIT NPPA chapter would be selling at tonight’s reception to raise money for the Chris Hondros Fund. The photos were absolutely captivating and Bernasconi pointed out how Hondros fills the entire frame of almost every photograph, something that is very distinct in his style. The conversation turned to video and how right now we can do anything we want with it; we don’t know where it’s headed. At almost every organization that we visited, we were told to avoid New York City and San Francisco because there are plenty of photographers there already. Instead, he suggested it would be best to move to a small town, because it's more likely to be busy. I brought this up and told them that I was very attracted to places like Chicago, Denver, and Seattle, and asked if it was feasible for me to work there. Immediately, I was told that Phoenix needed photographers and with topics such as immigration, water, and the rise in population, there would be plenty of stories. I later spoke to Bernasconi at the reception that evening and he said that it would be possible for me to find a staff position in the places that I wanted to go, but the challenges came with freelance work.
Tired at the end of the day and a bit uncertain about the evening’s reception, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed myself; I didn’t want it to end. The reception was held to welcome the RIT Photojournalism Alumnae, along with those we had the pleasure of visiting in NYC.
I first spoke to Bernasconi who encouraged me find staff work in Chicago, Denver, or Seattle, but emphasized that finding freelance work would be difficult. He then offered me advice for my Senior Capstone Project. He advised that I should be very careful with what images that I choose to include in my project because they will greatly affect how the audience sees the piece. Something small like a lowered head or a tearful cheek will influence the story and I must ask myself if those images are necessary to the story.
Andrew Burton, staff photographer at Getty, introduced himself, and I mentioned that I had seen him speak at this year’s Northern Short Course. The reception allowed us to approach other people very easily, something that would perhaps be a bit more difficult in a different setting. Next I found myself sitting next to Adrees Latif and we talked about the advancing technology of cameras, specifically the Canon 6D which I use in my Working on Location class. Walking around, I started a conversation with Alumna Kate Bubacz, followed by Alumna Prisca Edwards, and Bruce Byers. The reception was the perfect way to end the day and I am very honored to have had the chance to speak with all of these passionate and talented individuals.
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