This month, Bria Webb was the valedictorian of her graduating class at Sam Houston High School in San Antonio. Earlier this year she wrote about her mentor, photographer Lisa Krantz. The two met when Krantz was documenting a year at the high school for the San Antonio Express-News.
I realized after I met Lisa Krantz and watched her work that photojournalism was my passion and something that I wanted to pursue. Over the course of three years, I have developed a love for the opportunities, experiences, and unique connections that photojournalism has given me. Now that I am graduating from high school, I have been searching to find the right path that will lead to me to a great career as a photojournalist.
To help find the right college, Lisa and I took a road trip, touring three of the best photojournalism schools, Western Kentucky University, Ohio University, and the University of Missouri. I believed this was important so I could get a feel for what the transition would be like. I wanted to see how the programs worked and how they differed. My goal was to get a glimpse of the opportunities that each school offers for photojournalism students.
The first stop was Ohio University, where I had an admissions interview for the photojournalism program. I also met professors and spent the day with some of the students. I really felt that the students had a commitment to photojournalism. The most striking thing about OU was its location in Athens—a small, Appalachian town, with surrounding areas that are often reported on by students. Coming from an urban area, I always assumed that the best stories were in the bigger cities. But at each school I was able to see the amazing work and stories that these students were finding all over their communities.
The next stop was Western Kentucky University, where I was able to observe classes and talk to professors and students. At WKU, I sat in on a multimedia class and watched students speak about the progress of their first multimedia project. I watched a portrait class and saw how the students worked with light in the studio.
Our last stop was University of Missouri. What I loved about Mizzou was its great facility, and photography exhibits like Pictures of the Year International. At Mizzou, I was able get a glimpse into how the contest works. The student-run newspaper impressed me because it was run like a metro daily newspaper.
One feeling that I got from the trip was that the photojournalism community is unlike any other. What I saw at each school was a love for journalism. There was spirit and energy present among the students that captivated me. One thing that shocked me was the kinds of hotels and motels where we stayed. Lisa explained to me that as a journalist sometimes you’re only looking for a place to lay your head down, so you look for the cheapest place that will get you through the night.
Although I will not be attending any of these schools, it was great for me to get an understanding of how some of the best photojournalism programs work. In the end, I decided to attend New York University where I will major in photography at the Tisch School of Arts. —Bria Webb
To watch Bria’s valedictory speech go to the 35:00 minute mark in the video below: