Tag Archives: fordham university

Stories and Problems

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A Fordham University employee tells stories about her 9/11 experience in an interview to mark the upcoming 10th anniversary.

Whether it’s just the time I’ve put in or that, according to back-of-the-napkin calculations, I’ve crossed the threshold of taking more than a million photographs for professional jobs, I feel like I finally have reached a mature understanding of what I do as a photographer. It’s been a long process of simplification. When you start out, what you do, basically is point your camera at stuff, push a button and hope for the best, so you rattle everything that applies to: “I specialize in portraits and weddings and photojournalism and sunsets and flowers and families and dogs and babies and sports and travel and macro and did I mention sunsets?”

And then you look back and say, “What do I actually like? What am I actually good at? OK, maybe I do weddings with a photojournalistic aesthetic and portraits with a bias for dynamic light and emotions.” Or whatever.

But then you realize that’s both too complicated and too simple, and the real question as a long-term professional is what is it that beats through your heart? What keeps you going, keeps you from calcifying, keeps you from that death knell of photographic careers … déjà vu and boredom? A bored photographer is doomed for mediocrity or professional failure, and generally both. Why do you think wedding photography has such a high turnover rate? Too many people didn’t understand how to make their 100th or 1000th wedding as exciting as their first, how to keep pressing themselves forward when improvement is slower and harder than figuring out how your flash works.

Maybe that’s when you become an artist, and keep chasing your aesthetic down the rabbit hole. But I don’t know much about that. Too subjective. Once you take a photo, in my opinion, you are merely the first viewer of it. Your opinion about whether it is art or good is no more important than anyone else’s, except if it makes you happy or excited. But I know what I can do: Tell stories and solve problems. Simple as that, but also complicated and challenging and exciting to keep my blood pumping until I can’t hold a camera any longer.

Here I faced a problem long familiar to me from my days as a photographer for Columbia University — how do you take a bunch of people sitting around a conference table and photograph them in a way that’s in any way as visually exciting as the words they are saying? You could go down the artistic rabbit hole (“I call this set … “All Of Your Ankles”), but that’s not a great way to serve your clients. Here I solved the problem as simply as possible but no simpler. I put an SB-900 on each side of the room, bouncing toward the wall and ceiling, but close to it, so the light surface isn’t as huge as your traditional bounce. That allowed me to get the contrast and clarity I wanted wherever I stood with my 70-200, lighting what I wanted enough to bring out the reflections, and not lighting a distracting background. Even the water glasses — the bane of event shooters everywhere, serve a purpose with crispness and perspective, and setting the scene with a handy logo.

It’s not a fantastic wedding in Aruba (keep an eye out in November for that), but it keeps my brain churning with “How can I solve this problem better?” And that’s always exciting to me.

Lens: Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II
Camera: Nikon D3s


Photos of the Day: Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work @ Fordham U

I got my start in photojournalism and spent years working for Columbia University as a photographer, doing mostly documentary work, so I’m glad to intersperse my wedding work with institutional clients, and particularly my undergraduate alma mater and frequent client Fordham University. And there’s nothing more fun in the corporate photography world than being handed a broad assignment with “tell a good story.” So I had a great time covering the recent “Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day.” Fordham did their best to make this a great experience for the kids while keeping the cogs of the university turning, with tours and events all over campus to show them different facets of Fordham professional life. Here is a sample of the day:

Students wander the halls of WFUV, Fordham’s acclaimed radio station

Students, with new t-shirts, watch a chemistry demonstration

Goggles upon glasses.

A student makes sure his work is right as they test acids versus bases.

Rapt attention.

Students make their own races during the roll call.

Doing their best to put themselves in sugar shock at a “Make Your Own Cupcake” station

Students race at the ROTC demonstration

Reporting for duty


Wedding: Viviana and Henry at Fordham University

The wedding was at Fordham. The groom went to Fordham. I went to Fordham. My assistant went to Fordham. I shoot for Fordham.

(Sorry, Viv. Penn State is a good college, too.)

I knew Henry a bit when we were in school together, and I’d been looking forward to this one for a while. We’re talking about a couple who met in salsa dancing class — if that isn’t the recipe for an awesome reception, I don’t know what is.

And it didn’t disappoint. From a ceremony at the gorgeous Fordham chapel to a colorful and energetic reception, it was a blast the entire day. And that’s not to mention the groomsmen’s hilarious stop at White Castle on the way to the reception, or Henry bringing in a singer to re-enact a classic moment from one of Viv’s favorite movies: Coming to America.


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