DENISE CHAN


A day in the life of a photojournalist

Earlier this week, I work shadowed Elizabeth Bruneau, senior photography editor at AOL Music. I was lucky that they had an artist scheduled to come in that morning.  AOL Music has a page called Sessions, where they invite artists to come into their studios and perform. A group of photographers, camera men and journalists gather to listen and create a huge feature story with full video coverage, photo slideshow and interview. I’ve been on the site before and sifted through some of the videos. I loved how the layout was easy to navigate and how it made you feel so up close to the action. Needless to say, I was excited to see how this was put together!

I arrived a bit early, so Elizabeth first showed me to her desk. She sat in front of two computer screens and CNN was playing on a small TV off to the corner. Elizabeth touched up photos on Photoshop as she spoke to me, explaining that a lot of her more routine work is stocking photos that the writers need for their stories. Every photo we purchase needs to be documented carefully, she told me. Not just for copyright-related work, but also for accounting at the end of the year. It never occurred to me that there would be so much technical work behind hunting down requested photos.

One good skill to pick up to work with photography is Photoshop. Elizabeth further stressed what every journalist has been saying recently; Internet is the way to go. So having a knowledge of multimedia tools will  ultimately work to your advantage in any journalism career.

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Turns out that they have a private studio right in the back of the office. As I  headed back there, it was as if I was taken aback by the decor — the red velvet curtains and patterned glass walls stood at odds with the cubicle-aligned office we just came from. The band I was going to hear today? The Dandy Warhols.

Me with the Dandy Warhols

Me with the Dandy Warhols

As Elizabeth and I talked further, she told me that she was a Psychology major (my double major) back in college as well. She said that having a Psych major actually gives her an advantage when it comes to taking portrait shots. “Because you’ll pick up on small habits those people have, and see some things about their personality that other people might not,” Elizabeth said. It was those words that really made me realize that it’s beneficial to have a background in a range of topics as a journalist.