Time for a Change
The application materials for the 2024 Fellowship program at the New York Times mentioned being open to someone making a career change. Journalism hasn't been my full-time job in 35 years, and then it was brief. Instead I have focused more on business development while making photographs as a freelancer. I would like to be considered for a fellowship position as a photojournalist in the 2024-25 New York Times Fellowship class.
After completing my studies in journalism at Indiana University I had my first full-time photography internship at the Arizona Republic. After the summer internship, though, I stumbled into a job managing and designing publications in the Athletic Department at Indiana University. My next stop was a business development role in Singapore and a project to start a joint venture advertising agency in Vietnam that set me on a path away from journalism and into business management. During these eleven years I did the occasional photography assignment for the AP or sports publications, and started a business to produce The Crimson Review, a photo annual on IU Athletics. I eventually completed an MBA at Indiana and moved to New York City to work for IBM in marketing. Since leaving IBM in 2009 I've been heavily involved with our family, entrepreneurship, and more photography. An immersive eight week experience this past summer "covering" the Asphalt Green Summer Day Camp reminded me what have I missed over the years making photos only occasionally, so when heard about the Fellowship Program I was primed to apply.
Working long days at Asphalt Green last summer was a great opportunity to revive my skills as a photojournalist. I came to journalism in college after working in television production for many years. The Indiana Daily Student was still a five days a week newspaper and was a great experience for general assignment work and covering college sports. Over my last 15 years in Bloomington, sports photography was a big part of my experience thanks to freelancing for the AP and a local sports paper. Sadly, I've outlived three client newspapers and the contraction in the field overall since moving to New York. Working on a range of business projects by day I also did an occasional corporate assignment and experimented with building community at our sons' schools with photography. Then the pandemic changed everything. Thrust into the gig economy I became more connected to the breadth of the economic experience in New York City. Two years working on the 2020 Census investigating complex cases took me deeper into the boroughs of the city and to Buffalo. Working for UPS the past two holiday seasons gave me deeper exposure to parts of Long Island and Brooklyn. Working for a temp agency in retail at the US Open and events at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden meant working with younger co workers struggling to make ends meet. I've resorted to plasma donations, Medicaid, SNAP, and driving for Instacart to establish a stable base to reset our finances.
I was a strong contributor to the Indiana Daily Student because I had been active in the campus community first, and I will be a strong contributor to the Fellowship program thanks to my varied experiences since I moved to New York. I can relate to the challenges of living on the margin in New York City and from living and working with people across the spectrum of economic opportunity in a way I couldn't have imagined when I first arrived in New York City in 2001.
The opportunity to work full-time in journalism again inside a great news organization will reinforce and revive the lessons I learned from faculty at IU like Will Counts, John Ahlhauser, and Paul Lester. From working with classmates like Eric Deggans, Ryan Murphy, Eric Shanks, Matt McClain, Sue Morrow and others still active in media. Other than working with Chuck Robinson at the AP, I've been self guided in my development as a photographer. I would enjoy and benefit greatly from this experience at the New York Times and look forward to bring new perspectives to the readers of the New York Times.