Photography Sample: Orchid Show

I attended the last day of the New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show, this year featuring the vertical garden designs of Patrick Blanc. Needless to say, the orchids were gorgeous. I took one of Columbia’s SLRs to get some pictures, and here’s what I got.

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Photography sample: Central Park

Late in the fall semester, our RW1 class had a series of photography lessons with photojournalist John Smock. Our lessons included the use of techniques such as receding perspective, silhouetting and reflections, selective focus, and framing. We used Canon T2-I’s and were essentially allowed to choose our own subjects. I took this as an opportunity to spend a relaxing day in Central Park, which is full of interesting photo opportunities.

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Aggregation posts from New York At Work on Tumblr

As part of our Reporting and Writing 1 assignments in the fall of 2011, our class ran a series of Tumblr sites focused on sectors of the New York economy. I partnered with another student to report on the intricacies of labor in the city on a website we called NY At Work. When the semester ended, I chose to leave the site while Joshua continued to develop it into a more individual project. Now, it is named Labor Economics. My aggregation posts are still available on the site, and they represent the skills and expertise I gained during this crash-course in the economics of working in New York City.

Here are some samples of my work on NY At Work.

  • “ALIGN’s Wal-Mart Study: What is the Cost of Convenience?”
    An analysis of the debate on Wal-Mart’s expansion into New York City and its detractors in organized labor. This post received 107 notes, Tumblr’s proprietary tally of views, likes, and reposts.
  • “Organized Labor Shows Support for OccupyWallStreet”
    Written at the start of the Occupy movement, this post traces the beginning of the partnership between unions and Liberty Plaza in September. This post received 19 notes and was reblogged on Professor Bill Grueskin’s Tumblr page.
  • “For Women, Workplace Relationships are Benefit and Bane”
    I wrote this post after seeing a spate of editorials and blog posts concerning the relationships between women in the workplace and their–often–male superiors. The aggregated content reflects some of the pertinent issues and a few suggested solutions for women who want to advance their careers but see obstacles in their paths. This post received 10 notes.
  • “Labor and Rabbis Team Up Against Kosher Corporations”
    In October, I saw news in Crain’s New York about the tense relationship between two Kosher companies–Flaum Appetizing Corporation and Tnuva Food Industries–and the consumers and religious leaders of Park Slope in Brooklyn. It seemed like an interesting situation that was not receiving much attention in other news outlets, so I used this blog post to examine how the situation was evolving.
  • “The STEM of the Problem”
    This blog post analyzes an AP article about a National Center for Education Statistics report, checks the claims made in the article, and localizes the statistics to the New York level for readers to understand the prevalence of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees among black students.

Programmed to Work: Firms Compete for Tech Developers in NYC

//Written for Reporting and Writing 1, edited by Prof. Bill Grueskin.

Kurt Sikora came to New York with no job lined up and no connections to help him get employed. Yet within three months, he found work at two different firms with hardly any time between gigs.

He owes his luck partly to his field of expertise. As a web developer, he and his skill set are in high demand in the city’s booming tech industry. Other sector insiders agree: while many workers outside of information technology are fighting for positions, “technologists” with programming expertise are the object of competition between employers.

What does it take to be a sought-after developer in the city? Sikora says, “A lot of what I’ve seen in New York is, you need to be an expert in one certain field,” although his abilities encompass several aspects of digital design. The first job he landed in New York dealt with CSS and HTML; the one he is at now requires more work with Flash.

Although his web skills are helping him stay in business, Sikora’s entrance to the industry was unconventional. He began in Cleveland, Ohio, making fliers for his band, utilizing his degree in graphic design from a community college. Those fliers attracted graphic design jobs from local music venues, and Sikora eventually founded a freelance venture called Studio Siks, Inc., to create promotional materials. His work then pivoted to web development, using skills he taught himself through tutorials and experimentation. “I knew, moving here, it wasn’t going to be easy,” he says about the transition to New York. He spends a lot of his time each week looking at job listings, signing up with freelance placement agencies, revising his resume, and sending it out to potential employers. But many people who look for work as devotedly as him don’t receive as many job offers.

Experienced web developers in the city see a different job market from most. According to Ryan Brogan, a Principal of Magnet Agency—which helps connect developers to firms in New York—“Players don’t have to go out and find jobs”; instead, the jobs find them.

Brogan has been recruiting tech and media talent for Time Warner, MTV Networks, and other big names for 10 years, and he continues to do so as founder and CEO of Magnet Agency. Recently, he advertised for developers to join the staff of IvyDate, a site for singles who attended prestigious colleges. The perfect candidate, Brogan says, has been hard to find: “The only time you’re going to find someone online… I mean, it’s like a needle in a haystack chance.” But he expected as much considering the medium. In his experience, “99 percent of the people who apply for the job are unqualified… That’s the typical response you’re getting when you put something online.”

The ideal applicant cannot be defined by metrics like work history or educational degree. Brogan is looking for someone with leadership experience and the right programming talent. Candidates at the top of his list know about user experience and interface design. “What makes money on the social web? That’s the place to look,” he says. “People who are strong in social media marketing, who are strong in product development, who have international experience,” and who can utilize advertising technology, digital media, and monetization on the web will never go long without work: Brogan defines them as “knowledge workers, not skilled labor.”

Bob Troia with Affinitive, a social marketing and promotion firm, is searching for a developer fluent in the PHP programming language—and he agrees that not every candidate has the same chance in the field. “The best developers are either happily employed full-time or prefer to work on a freelance basis, where they can pick and choose the projects they want to work on. So, it comes down to a hiring company proving [sic] a great environment and great projects where a developer has an opportunity to innovate.” Companies have to woo high-quality developers with benefits, an exciting project, a strong executive team, and equity, according to Brogan.

Unfortunately, supply of these desirable developers is tight. Brogan estimates that out of the 20,000 working developers in the city, 2,000 are highly experienced and between 100 and 200 are available for work at a given time. For the remaining pool of candidates, the tech sector is as cutthroat as any other industry, facing layoffs and outsourcing.

Every year, more of these novice developers join the workforce as they graduate from computer science programs around the city. At the New York Institute of Technology, around 290 students graduated from the School of Engineering and Computer Science in May and joined the labor force. An alumni survey indicates that 35 percent of the graduates had jobs lined up before they left school, although Charlene DeGregoria, Director of NYIT’s Office of Career Services, warns that the graduates may not be working in their sector or may find themselves underemployed for several years after graduation.

DeGregoria happily points out success stories, though, and advises students that getting involved is the key to employment after the computer science program: “If you’ve done the right things, which means you didn’t just come to class, but you did internships, you networked, you joined professional organizations, you got involved with things—you have a story, in other words—you have experience and you met people, those are the students who are more likely to be picked up.”

In the meantime, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is attempting to boost the tech sector in New York by planning a brand new engineering campus in Manhattan, a move that has earned him both praise and criticism. DeGregoria thinks it will help develop New York’s existing tech workforce, although Bloomberg has irritated local colleges by looking to more distant schools for proposals.

Kurt Sikora feels confident that he will be steadily employed for the near future, and he offers this advise to students and developers alike: “Learn as much as you possibly can about different things that you think you might use, in the field that you want to do.” Knowledge about different aspects of web development and how they work together is the key to finding a job, he says, no matter how the market changes in months to come.

Video Sample: Pasticceria Rocco’s

Rocco’s is one of the few small family-owned businesses in New York, a successful bakery in Greenwich Village. It was passed down to three siblings from their father, who had owned the bakery since 1974. Today, the owners are uncertain whether they can maintain the family-ownership tradition.

In this video, Rocco Jr. describes working with his dad, and running the kitchen on the first holiday without him.

Passing Down the Recipe for Success from Erin Richey on Vimeo.

Video Sample: Falun Gong Audio Slideshow

The religious group known as Falun Gong has long faced persecution in China. How severe the persecution is within that country, or whether the group’s complaints are legitimate, are debatable while the claims of both sides go uninvestigated. But at the Falun Gong rally at Battery Park in August, there were many families and individuals willing to testify on the effects of the struggle on their own lives.

This is the story as told by artist Amy Lee and her daughter, Meng Lin, about being separated during Amy’s imprisonment and her flight from China to America. For now, it is the viewer’s responsibility to judge the veracity of her story. The production and editing of this slideshow are by no means intended to imply my support or skepticism of Falun Gong.

Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance (version 2) from Erin Richey on Vimeo.

Radio Sample: DSK Protests

For my August skills class with Ashley Milne-Tyte at Columbia, I completed an audio postcard from the courthouse protests concerning Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s rape charges.

Remembering 9|11, Memorializing a Decade

People from all over New York, the United States, and the world gathered somberly on the streets around the 1 World Trade Center construction site on Sunday to attend a public memorial service for the 10-year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Attendees stood within pedestrian barricades to watch live broadcasts of the ceremony proceedings taking place within the newly built 9|11 memorial. Only family members of victims were allowed into the memorial for the commemorative events; the memorial began accepting general visitors the following day.

Spectators on Church St. viewing the live broadcast of the memorial, 11 September 2011.

Families enter the memorial services on Broadway, 11 September 2011.

Spectators were forced to undergo security screenings before proceeding south on Church to the memorial broadcast, 11 September 2011.

Spectators stand at the barricades to view the memorial broadcast on Church, 11 September 2011.Emergency personnel, military, and civil servants attended the ceremony broadcasts on Church St. on Sunday, 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St.. 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees of the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees view the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees to the ceremony broadcast on Church St., 11 September 2011.

Attendees on their way to the family member check-in on Broadway and Warren, 11 September 2011.

August Media Bootcamp: Photography

Our very first assignment in the photography session of the August bootcamp was to explore New York City and take photos that correspond to certain assignment themes, such as light, perspective, and color. My photos turned out amateurish, in my opinion, but nonetheless I’m sharing them to show my friends and family back home what I’ve been up to. Feel free to comment, but remember: this was my first time using this camera, a Canon G11.

Practice shot of a girl taking a practice shot of her coffee cup.

Practicing camera settings with dappled sunlight.

Low Library, seen from Butler Library.

Low Library's center room, photographed from above on the catwalk behind the curtain.

Visitors in Low Library's center room, seen in the reflection of an exhibit case.

The ceiling of Low Library, photographed from the floor of the center room.

A lamp in the Low Library, photographed from above.

The Broadway farmer's market lavender vendor. His tent smells like heaven!

Tomatoes, cantaloupes, and peppers for sale at the Broadway farmer's market.

Peppers and honey for sale at the Broadway farmer's market.

Selecting produce at the Broadway farmer's market.

Examining produce at the Broadway farmer's market.

Waiting for the train at the 110th-Central Park North subway station.

The view from the edge of the platform at the 110th-Central Park North subway station. Yes, I leaned way over the tracks to get it.

Messing with shutter speed settings and lighting as the train pulls into the station at 110th-Central Park North. I think everyone has at least one of these shots.

I was lucky enough to get this shot of a little girl skipping around the fountain in the Central Park Conservatory Gardens, just after she ran up and asked if I was taking pictures "of the scenery."