© Chris Gregory
Chris Gregory is a photojournalist based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
EAW: How long have you been shooting? What do you shoot? How did you start?
CG: I started shooting some fine art in high school but did not seriously start shooting PJ until I was in my second year of college. I started at my college newspaper, the GW Hatchet at George Washington University in DC. My foundation in photography and photojournalism all comes from my three years at the paper. I studied print journalism so my visual formation was really made at the paper, during my internships and by having mentors.
EAW: How did you edit your work for your application to the workshop? Did you submit one body of work and/or singles?
CG: I pretty much put an edit together of about 100 images and weeded them down to about 50 with close friends and mentors. Then I showed a portfolio of about 30 images around to editors and shooters I knew. I also organized a critique session with Sam Corum (EAW XXIII), Tucker Walsh Nick Gingold (EAWXXIV) and we also looked at Mark Abramson’s portfolio. At this we all critiqued our work and came up with final edits.
I showed two short news essays of breaking news and singles.
EAW: Did you ask for help? How did you strike a balance between who you asked for help and your own voice?
CG: I was fortunate enough to apply while I was interning at the Washington Post. As I formed an idea of what I wanted my final portfolio to look like I asked for help from then DOP Michel DuCille and editor Sonya Doctorian. I have to say that having an editor at a paper go through the thought process of editing is invaluable. I would advise anybody applying to the workshop to go into your local paper or talk to local shooters for help with their portfolio.
That said its important that when you show work it is wide enough to have options and a variety of shots to sequence but is also narrow enough that it reflects your vision. My portfolio was a combination of 65% me editing and sequencing and 35% other people sequencing those images.
EAW: What kind of impact has the workshop had on your career/studies?
CG: I think there are two things students get out of the workshop. The first is a sense of belonging. During the workshop you get initiated and treated like you belong in the profession of image making and further more get to witness just how the greats work during presentations. Personally, my fondest memory is the last day when you sit in a dark room with all of your peers from all over the world/country and look at eachther’s work shot during the weekend. Looking at the pictures shot during the workshop is a portrait of a generation of image makers, at the workshop you understand what your generation’s collective eye looks like and how you are seeing the world. Furthermore, it shows you where your voice is within that collective eye. That to me was really powerful.
The second is what most people associated with the workshop, the professional connections. You spend three full days with the industry’s top photographers and editors, some career altering relationships are bound to form. I can say that I have gotten magazine work out of the relationships I built at the workshop, made connections that helped me get an internship and got critiqued by the people I want to work for the most. But I don’t want to emphasize this last point as much because its not what the workshop is about.
EAW: How should students carry themselves at the workshop?
CG: If you go to the workshop to get work you are going to do just the opposite. The workshop is not about getting work for young photographers, it is about identifying young photographers who have the passion, talent and drive and helping them start their careers.
I have a few points of advice:
1. There will be far more talented, experienced and creative photographers than you at the workshop. Do not let that intimidate you into not showing your work to big time editors. Let the people you show your work to the judges, not you. I was surprised to find that some editors loved my work and have kept in touch, even though I showed my book to them after Dominic Bracco’s.
2. Be humble but assertive. Understand that while you can jumpstart your career at the workshop you can also hurt it. Check your ego at the door and accept criticism. If you can take the criticism you receive at portfolio reviews and come back to NY for editor meetings with their criticisms tackled you will pretty much guarantee a spot in the industry.
3. Make friends with everybody. Don’t play a game of trying to be friends with the most talented photographers or the best editors. The workshop is a place where everybody is welcome regardless of what you shoot or what level you are at. Don’t be the person everybody thinks is an elitist.
4. If you team leader suggest you do something when you shoot your story, do it.
EAW: How can students prepare for the workshop?
1. Do not show a sloppy book
2. If you are interested in working for a certain editor or publication take them into consideration. If you are interested in working for wires put together a few supplementary sports pictures to complement your reportage.
3. You are as strong as your weakest image
4. Sleep a lot, don’t drink in NY before the workshop. Take a lot of granola bars and snacks.
5. Look up the editors on the list you get the first day. Understand who is there both the photographers and the editors.
6. Come with an open mind.
7. Understand it is not easy. You will doubt yourself, compare yourself and underestimate yourself. The workshop is grueling but if you vent with your close friends and keep a positive attitude it will not go unnoticed.