Day 226: AAJA Networking

A jam-packed second day of AAJA 2014!

Highlight of the convention before lunch:

“Skype presentation with award-winning Associated Press Photojournalist David Guttenfelder, who was named Instagram Photographer of the Year by Time Magazine in 2013. Guttenfelder [talked] about his journey in North Korea capturing one of the most secret societies in the world with his iPhone and having the images seen by a worldwide audience. …[He] began as a freelance photographer in Rwanda after studying at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. As an Associated Press photographer for the past 16 years, he has been based in Kenya, Ivory Coast, India and Japan. He received the 2013 Infinity award in photojournalism from the International Center of Photography for his images from North Korea.”

An Instagram follower of Guttenfelder, I was excited to hear about his views of and experiences in North Korea. Some surprising comments he made were that North Korean food is amazing and that North Koreans are like anyone else and have sense of humor.

Skyping with award-winning photographer David Guttenfelder

Unlike yesterday, I had lunch alone at Busboys and Poets, a highly rated restaurant/library. Yes, library. Anyway, apparently there were quite a few other AAJA attendees who chose this place for lunch. Thanks to Foursquare for the great recommendation.

I got the fresh mozzarella sandwich with sweet potato fries. One thing that stands out about this place is the quality of the food. The black bread was moist and soft and my excellent server said something about how fresh it was.

Busboys and Poets' fresh mozzarella sandwich with sweet potato fries
Fresh mozzarella sandwich with tomatoes, parsley pesto, and olive oil on black bread and sweet potato fries on the side.

Anyway, I had to rush and made it just in time (even though I was 10 minutes late) for the session on starting a freelance photography career to begin. I didn’t realize just how many photography-related talks I added to my schedule until I noticed I was largely staying in the same room—the room where photography-related talks would be in.

Photographers from Grain Images shared how they left their jobs to work on their own company. Even though I have only one more year until I graduate, it’s still hard to imagine how I’ll be making a living and enough to save a year’s worth (how much they saved before leaving their jobs).

Next up was again about photography. I liked this one with Alan Chin even more because of his experiences in China and random Cantonese that I could understand during his presentation.

AAJA 2014: From Tiananmen to Toishan, a Chinese-American photographer's wanderings through the Sinosphere
Alan Chin presenting, “From Tiananmen to Toishan, a Chinese-American photographer’s wanderings through the Sinosphere.”

Afterward, I headed to the career fair and expo downstairs. From Twitter, I had seen that Godiva was apparently giving away chocolate. Unlike when I briefly walked through yesterday, the place was packed. Journalists just love chocolate, apparently.

After trying each of the types of chocolate (from chocolate raspberry to mooncake), even though I didn’t bring copies of my résumé or have business cards, I figured I would at least walk around and check out some of the booths.

AAJA reception with free Godiva chocolate samples
Free Godiva chocolate samples at the AAJA career fair and expo!
AAJA reception with free Godiva chocolate samples
Chocolates going quickly!
AAJA reception with virgin daiquiris
AAJA reception with virgin daiquiris!
Gold Godiva chocolate box of 4
Yay, more free chocolate!

Soon enough, I found myself shaking hands and chatting with reporters from The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, and VOICES and speaking with reps from Columbia Journalism School and UNITY. Never be afraid to talk to people, no matter how unprepared you are.

Despite all the chocolate I had just gorged on, I had to stop by Shake Shack on my way back to the parking garage (found a much cheaper place, by the way, at $21. But then I found a $10 outdoor one on my way to lunch. Ugh.) for ice cream. What dinner?

Shake Shack SMORSEcode concrete
Shack Shack F Street’s SMORSEcode concrete, a dense chocolate frozen custard ice cream blended with marshmallow sauce and graham crackers from Pollystyle. Five percent of sales from SMOREScode support Share Our Strength, whose mission is to end childhood hunger in America.

The only downside to the day was the traffic I encountered on the way home.

Traffic accident on the way home from D.C.

Traffic accident on the way home from D.C.
Four lanes forced to merge into one because of this accident, causing major delays.

When I got home, I just had to Instagram a photo of all the business cards I had collected just from these two days.

AAJA 2014 business card collection
Collecting business cards as if it were my job.

In an effort to keep this reasonably brief, I’ll refer you to my Twitter @SoniaSu_ for notes and lessons learned from #AAJA14.