Monday morning I will be a student once again. It's been a long time.
At 9:00 AM I'll be reporting to a classroom in the graduate school of of Journalism at CUNY. I'll be a student of James Estrin, senior staff photographer and Lens Blog co-editor for the New York Times.
I met Jim Estrin in Santa Fe several years ago. I sat across from his portfolio review table, nervously sharing my Uganda work with him. He said something like, "I shouldn't like this work, but I do," referring to the fact that he reviews/gets bored with a lot of work shot by non-Africans in Africa. After we talked about why he did like the stuff, I realized we had 10 minutes left, so I said, "I did bring along a second body of work, if you'd like to see it." It was my Estate Sale project, and he loved it. He published it a few weeks later on Lens Blog.
He probably won't remember me on Monday morning, but I remember him. He was an honest, straight-shooter of a reviewer. He was down to earth, personable and kind and willing to answer the many questions I had about the photojournalism industry.
I recently read that he was teaching a class called "Visual Storytelling" in New York. I applied, and when I was accepted I started researching stories I could tell (in five days in a city I do not inhabit) as a participant in this exciting workshop. Finally, today, I think I made a breakthrough with someone at a NY non-profit who (I hope!) is going to help set me up with a story. It's taken many days, many emails and phone calls, but I think I might be honing in on something. Stay tuned for more info about the photo essay I'll be making.
Here's a snap I took with my iPhone of James Estrin using his iPhone when he and I were standing next to each other at a reception during the Santa Fe Portfolio Reviews some years ago.