october 15 — Virtual DC
On October 15, our class met with Donny Bajohr, Quentin Nardi, and Jeff Campagna from Smithsonian. Donny, an RIT graduate, emphasized the importance of recognizing that you might not necessarily do what you want to be doing immediately after you graduate. He worked for the Peace Corps for a time where he met Alex Snyder, who we spoke to at the Nature Conservancy. Quentin had a bit more of a regular path to this position, graduating from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Fine Art Photography. Jeff Campagna has been an editor for Smithsonian since 2007, also with an unconventional path to his current position. Jeff started out as an accountant for Smithsonian, became interested in photo editing and research and eventually worked his way up to being a full time editor.
One of the most interesting things that was discussed during this meeting was the specifics behind photo stories that are published for print and digital. Many stories come straight from photographers pitches, or from photography agencies. Specifically, photo essays have a higher chance of running than feature stories. Photographers are encouraged to pitch an essay to the editors if they feel it will fit with what the magazine usually publishes. They also talked about the process in guiding a photographer towards photographing certain things, which seems to depend on the story and who is working on it. If the photographer knows the situation best they generally will be trusted to return with images that work well with the manuscript given by a writer and an editor.
I loved being able to see the different work that is produced by Smithsonian. My favorite that was spoken of was the Fighting to Be American story about immigrants serving in the United States Army. Hearing about the process of choosing photographers and discussing the roadblocks to the success of the story was really cool, I feel like I now have a full understanding of the visual work done by the Smithsonian as opposed to simply the mental image of museums.
I really appreciate that these three people came and spent time with our class!