Career Night at Washington Irving H.S.


On Wednesday night I had the wonderful honor of representing the photography field at Washington Irving High School’s “Career Day”. My sincere thanks to all of the dedicated staff who were so kind and accommodating, and helped me feel comfortable and welcome.

There were three classes of around 20 students, and I truly enjoyed speaking about the power of photography, and the various career paths that are available to them. Amongst the topics we discussed were:

1) What is the best camera to buy? The answer is not Canon, and it’s not Nikon, but rather, “The camera you have with you at all times!” It doesn’t matter if it’s a small point and shoot or an advanced 35mm. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say ‘Oh...if only I had my camera!” Keep a camera on you at all times, and you will get the shot!

2) What is the Future of Photography? Photography has always been a powerful medium. Yet, now with digital technology, and the internet, we are in the midst of a revolution. Former rules have been thrown to the side, and only the people who are willing to change, learn, and grow will have true success. Learning things like Web design, gathering sound, video, and various other software applications will be vital to thrive in this industry.

3) How do you get started in Photography? It’s a great question, and one that can be answered many ways. When you are just starting out, photograph a little bit of everything. Try shooting sports, nature, fashion, portraits, architecture, and news to see what you find yourself drawn to most. When you find that particular field, build the best portfolio you can possibly create. It doesn’t have to be big, but every image needs to be strong. You never want to show your work to an editor and apologize for a technical error like focus, exposure, etc. Once you are confident in your portfolio, make an appointment with a photo editor. If they like what they see, you just may get a shot!

During the course of the evening the students had many excellent questions.
However, there was one that really stood out.
“What was the hardest photo you’ve ever had to make?”
I’m glad he asked, because they needed to know that not all photography is glamorous, pretty, and fun. I shared the story of the road rage murder case I covered in which I had to photograph the mother of the deceased victim as she arrived at the scene of the crime. I explained that I was quiet and respectful, and used a 70-200mm lens to give the grieving family a bit of space while still getting the shots that my editor was paying me to come back with. I explained that as tough as it was to shoot images of a suffering family, I hoped that my images would allow their story to be seen by many people in the paper, and bring new awareness to perhaps prevent a repeat of a similar situation.

Again, my thanks to the students and staff for sharing their time with me. I hope I was able to inspire you to consider making photography a career. Regardless of what you decide on, I wish you all the best in your chosen path.