A Syrian refugee giving back. A child dancing after a devastating earthquake. A love-struck couple marrying after their village in Nigeria was attacked. Check out my new photo essay for UNICEF that proves hope and resilience prevail, even in the most trying of times.
Photography: Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Little Girl, Big City
Sweet moment overheard on 5th Avenue last week.
A little girl holds her mother’s hand, jogging every few steps to keep up. She looks up at the tall buildings and says, “Mom, how long does it take to make a city?”
Where Stories Begin
A bold statement for New York, right?
I love stories, so even seeing the word written out is enough to catch my eye. I noticed this phrase on my walk home from an event tonight, written in simple white text on the glass of a well-known New York City building. Can you guess which one?
Portraits from prison
What would convicts tell their younger selves?
Check out my story for MSNBC about a moving prison photography project: Portraits from prison: convicts write letters to their younger selves
Here’s a video of how the REFLECT project came together:
Scenes from the weekend
Saturday morning run through Central Park. It was my first time visiting as a resident, not just a tourist, and jogging up the path to 81st Street without any agenda was glorious.
Sunday afternoon I wandered around the West Village, checking out the cafés (I have yet to find my go-to place.) It was cold, but I managed to take off my gloves to capture a few shots.
The Village is full of rich reds, browns and greens, and noticed how yellow taxis stick out here more than other places in the city.
This West Village fountain is a refuge for the city’s weary pigeons.
Our Lady of Pompeii Church on Carmine Street, framed by trees still looking bare and wintery. Hopefully spring is coming soon!
“Give my regards to Broadway”
I met my grandfather (Papa) in New York City last Saturday for a couch-shopping excursion followed by lunch.
I noticed he blended in so nicely with the city in his handsome trench coat and hat. He looked like someone right out of Humans of New York, and I knew he’d have a quote sufficiently poignant if ever stopped. Or a song lyric.
Papa has a song for everything, and as we were walking he began singing “Give My Regards To Broadway.”
Give my regards to Broadway
Remember me to Herald Square
Tell all the gang at Forty Second Street
That I will soon be there.
We went to the Macy’s in Herald Square. He told me how my great-grandfather (his father-in-law) was a carpet salesman there in the 30s and 40s. I love spending time in the city with Papa because he’s full of old stories about the places I pass every day. The buildings and streets glow with history. Even the not-so-pretty, not-so-famous sites transform through Papa’s memories, flickering for a moment in the form they once were.
ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Enoch Wu
Enoch and I met two summers ago while I was interning as a reporter for The Toledo Blade. He is a photojournalist for the nearby Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, and we ended up on the same assignment out on an airport runway in Millbury, Ohio. I noticed he was holding an iPad (back then they still seemed pretty scarce!) so while waiting for our interviews and photo opportunities we began discussing technology and the future of journalism.
Enoch is a talented photographer who is also technologically savvy. He says his interest in technology goes back to childhood, when he was exposed to computers at an early age and “always had a sense to tinker [with] things and break things.” When he used a computer, Enoch said, he would dig into the software to see what he could change or manipulate. As a child, he even mischievously figured out how to subscribe to PCWorld Magazine and have it charged to his parents’ credit card. Today, his morning ritual includes keeping up-to-date with the industry by checking various photography and technology sites.
In addition to his work for the Sentinel-Tribune, Enoch shoots event photography for Toledo.com. He is also a freelance wedding and portrait photographer. For Enoch, whose primary passion was music before college, photojournalism is more than the act of capturing a moment with a camera.
It’s about telling a story through an image.
“Henri Cartier-Besson, the father of photojournalism said it the best: ‘Photography is nothing — it’s life that interests me,’” Enoch said.
Here are the highlights from my Q & A session with Enoch, including some of his work from the Sentinel-Tribune. And make sure to check out more of his photography at enochwu.net!
SF: We’ve all heard the common expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” To what extent do you agree with that? What do you think a photo can portray that a written story cannot?
EW: I tend to think that in today’s world, with technology and mobile phones, a picture has become a commodity and there is not enough emphasis put into making a photo worth a thousand words. The process is so instantaneous that people don’t think about how and what they are photographing—a proper photo is worth a thousand words.
It’s hard for me to say what a photo can portray that a written story cannot. Both photos and stories can evoke emotion and thought; both can open doors to new ideas and take people to new worlds. I’d say the main difference is that in reading, people must imagine a scene and a moment, whereas with a photo, that information is provided in a condensed visual form and does not require as much imagination.
SF: Who are some interesting people you’ve gotten to photograph or work with through your job?
EW: Oh, there are so many interesting people with interesting stories. Perhaps too many. [Recently] I photographed a smart 10-year-old, deemed the youngest developer with an app in the Apple App Store. It was exciting for me to see such a young “geek” doing something cool. It was also exciting to associate a little one with technical jargon and to see the wonderful support of his father, who is an intellectual property lawyer. What a perfect team.
SF: Dream subject to photograph?
EW: I don’t “dream” to shoot anyone since I believe that it’s about my subjects, I care more to hear their story and to photograph them the best way to tell their story. My subjects are on level ground, whether it is a three-year-old or the president of the United States.
But now that I think of it, it would be interesting to photograph Paypal/SpaceX/Tesla founder Elon Musk, or Jonathan Ive, the lead designer at Apple. There are musicians, too—it would be interesting to shoot Andrea Bocelli, the blind Italian classical artist, or Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, or Björk, for that matter.
SF: Clearly, the newspaper industry is in a state of rapid change, and must transform drastically to survive. If you had the power to revolutionize the industry, offering different forms of digital content, what would you do?
EW: I would use my entrepreneurship knowledge to find a way to raise the bar for journalism once again, to bring long-form journalism back and to draw people to enjoy reading again. Some of us still love reading, but I have a sense that it can be made enjoyable for those who may not necessarily enjoy it at the moment, and for those who are glued to the television.
In my work, quality is key, and I stand firm in the matter that my work should speak for itself. Therefore, I would expect the same had I the power to “revolutionize” the industry.
It’s more complicated than just digital content and pay walls. We need to reevaluate newspaper business models and practices that rely on a world when print journalism was at its peak. We need to bring the right people in—visionaries who are concerned about the future of editors, journalists, photojournalists and other newspaper staff rather than people [only] concerned primarily about monetary gains, finding Band-Aids to put off bankruptcy. We need to include people who look at the web seriously in all aspects: security, intellectual property, design and digital content, of course.
Solutions must be concrete, not half-baked ideas that fail. This is no time for failure as the jobs of so many great newspaper staffers are at risk. The medium of written journalism and the importance of reading are at stake, too. Written journalism is an imperative part of our future—our democracy and its success depend on it.
SF. What are your goals for the future?
EW: Right now I’m taking life as it goes—taking advantage of my full-time position at the paper and freelance jobs in Northwest Ohio, with the goal of building my ideal collection of gear and continuing to meet new people and create connections.
One of my personal goals is to return to music with a greater passion towards it. My standing long-term goal, lets say a period of five years, is to utilize my entrepreneurial sense to develop something that will secure my future as a photojournalist as well as the future of many other newspaper staffers. I’ve always wanted to run my own design firm too, but that is a tabled goal until the ones above come to fruition.
SF: Interesting fact about yourself?
EW: I secretly aspire to be Steve Jobs, to change the world…and photography is a cover.
*This interview was condensed and edited.
Header photo: Copyright © 2012 Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune. All rights reserved.
Yes please. (Si, por favor.)
Election Eve in NYC
It’s Nov. 5 and New York City is glowing red, white and blue. On this chilly Election Eve, the city buzzes with excitement as people anticipate tomorrow’s close race between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. It’s uplifting to see so much color, light and energy in the city again after Hurricane Sandy took such a toll on New York residents and others from the area.Below are some shots taken tonight in Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza.
Notre Dame Football: 9-0!
We’re 9-0 baby. Notre Dame is undefeated. Pretty unbelievable, considering I went through four years of college practically expecting the team to let me down in that last quarter. I have to admit- I’m kind of jealous of this year’s seniors, who get to ride on a wave of glory each game, swaying to the Alma Mater with sheer joy instead of disappointment. But I’m also thrilled our team is finally doing well. ( I’ve always been proud of my school, but now I have bragging rights…)
Fall and football go hand in hand; one inevitably reminds me of the other. In honor of Notre Dame’s recent success, I’m posting a collection of my favorite “Fall at ND” photos from over the years. Fall at Notre Dame is just so beautiful, one time of year when the colors on campus can outdo the perpetual gray perma-cloud hovering overhead. Come early to mid-October, the colors out there in Northern Indiana are unlike any I’ve ever seen on the East Coast. I’ve never looked forward to fall as much as I did in college: when it meant the return of football Saturdays, tailgating, brilliant colors, brisk air, and spending all day in leather boots, leggings and comfy sweatshirts. Whether you’re a Domer or not, I hope you enjoy these colorful shots of campus as much as I do. And GO IRISH!