By Joe Jaszewski
Freelance photojournalist / temporary substitute teacher
A small sea of identical navy-blue sweatshirts sat at attention,
no doubt sizing me up: “Who is he?” “He’s
tall” “Where is Fr. Vaughan?” “What is he
going to say?” were the thoughts I suspect were running through
I ruined the suspense: “My name is Mr. Jaszewski. You can call
me Mr. J. Fr. Vaughan is at a conference in Los Angeles this week,
so I will be teaching you all grammar for the next few days. Please
get out your textbooks and turn to page 245,” I said. Between
first and second period, I stepped outside with my cell phone and
called an editor, looking for freelance work. He said he would give
me an interview. It’s a start.
Such is the life of a recently graduated, unemployed photojournalist.
Upon coming home to Sacramento from my internship at the Tacoma (WA)
News-Tribune this summer I found myself in a position of limited employment
prospects, and virtually none as a newspaper photographer. So I had
to diversify. Being a substitute middle-school teacher and tutoring
students individually after school has provided me with some much
needed income, different experiences, and similar feelings of purpose
and worth as being a photojournalist. But I’ll be damn if I
don’t miss pictures and newspapers.
Among other newspapers, I applied to be a staff photojournalist at
the Eugene Register-Guard, an 88,000-circulation newspaper with
a reputation of strong visual reporting. They received 140 portfolios.
I did not get the job. “I want you to know that this hire has
been a difficult one for us because we had so many outstanding applicants,”
said the director of graphics/photography in an e-mail.
Gray-Raventos guestures while sitting with Susan Keizer,
both Davis (CA) residents, before the the San Francisco
Symphony's opening performance in Jackson Hall during
the gala opening at the $35 Million Mondavi Center
for the Performing Arts on Thursday night, October
3, on the campus of UC Davis.
Photo © Joe Jaszewski
a streak of light cuts through a dimly-lit gym, The
St. Michael's Dragon basketball team takes on St.
Photo © Joe Jaszewski
|Few newspapers seem
to be hiring these days. For those few openings out there, they
are receiving portfolios from photographers with years more experience
than I have. I must confess that I am not willing to take just
any job. I am seeking a place where I can grow, not just subsist.
In the meantime, as I continue to send out portfolios, I am preparing
applications for graduate school. The University of California,
Berkeley, Northwestern University, and New York University will
all be receiving applications from me for their master’s
degree program in journalism.
As a photo editor I worked with in Tacoma noted, these are not
hotbeds of photojournalism. And as I explained to Craig, my intent
isn’t to study photojournalism in graduate school. With
three internships and a handful of awards and workshops on my
resumé, I have a solid base of photojournalism upon which
to build. I want to learn the other side: reporting with words.
I hope that this will open some additional doors for me, and I
have wanted to learn written journalism for awhile
now. I think that having knowledge of photo and word could be
valuable, not necessarily to do both at the same time, but maybe
in a managerial position down the road. Besides, I think it could
only help my photojournalism.
So those are my plans for
now. I would love to be working at a newspaper, contributing
to my community and developing my skills. But without a lot of opportunities
to do such, I think some more education and experiences are in order.