Photo Journalism and Arm Wrestlers

This week, Northeastern staff photographer Adam Glanzman came to class to talk about his experience shooting a 75-year-old arm wrestler, and to give us tips on how to best shoot a subject, given this week’s class assignment around assembling a photo story.

I thought the subject matter alone was interesting, but the way he shot his photos and how logically he set them up was surprising to me. Outside of the “People of New York” photographer, I usually thought of photographers as being in the right place, at the right time. But with each tip Adam gave, it was clear there was a methodology when he was completing his assignment. In addition to scene-setting shots and detail shots, he stressed the importance of portrait photos.

“Portrait shots or personality shots give you a sense of who that person is. If you mess up everything else, this shot can still tell a story,” he said.

I also was amazed at how his photos got discovered in the first place, and how much work went into the process (with the NY Times editor who kept asking “what else, what else”).

Hearing that the photo-taking process was awkward for him made me feel a lot better, because I was having difficulty asking people for photos/trying not to seem like a stalker when completing this assignment.

One of Adam's many photos published
One of Adam’s many published photos

“It was cool [of covering the arm-wrestling world], but definitely was awkward at first,” he said. “I think a lot of being a photo-journalist is you have to work through that.”

When it came to taking photos for my story, I wasn’t so much concerned about privacy, which was touched on quickly towards the end of our time with Adam. Most of my subjects were sitting outside and more than willing to let me take pictures, although I had to wait for them to stop watching me to get more “natural” photos. Hearing about his underage drinking photography experience on BU’s campus was amusing, although I felt for the students being reprimanded.

In short, hearing his stories made me feel better when I went back for day two for pictures for my photo story, and was a great speaker given the upcoming assignment!


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