Photo Manager and Much More
The alarm rings at 5 a.m. and photojournalist Matthew Modoono wipes the sleep from his eyes as he climbs out of bed to start another day. With his batteries fully charged the young journalist grabs his gear and heads to his car. The first stop of the morning is at the Woburn firehouse to continue his long-term photo story on the firefighters.
For five years, Modoono worked as a staff photographer for GateHouse Media in the Metro Boston area. As a photojournalist working for a large newspaper chain, Modoono’s responsibilities included covering assignments which range from general news, sports, spot news and features. However, what he enjoyed most as a community journalist was working on in-depth photo stories that went deeper than a single photo and caption.
“I followed those firefighters from training to graduation,” said Modoono. “I felt like it was a powerful story because it showed you a different side to the day in life of a firefighter and what they go through daily.”
Modoono currently works for Northeastern as the manager of photography within the university’s marketing and communication department. As a staff photographer for the university I work directly with Modoono on a daily basis and his passion for visual storytelling is evident. He is always trying to push others to be stronger journalists and to find new ways to approach assignments.
However, Modoono did not become a strong photojournalist and editor overnight. He too had great mentors while he was progressing in the industry and recalls his long time editor, at GateHouse Media, John Walker, as a strong influence in his career.
“John was a great role model because he would always guide us in the right direction, from preparation, to the actual shoot and through the editing process,” Modoono said.
In a busy and understaffed newsroom the visuals were often a second thought for the editorial team says Modoono, but his editor always made it clear to the rest of the staff how important strong visuals can be in telling a story.
“John was insistent that the writers communicate with the photos staff on their stories and deadlines,” says Modoono. “He would fight for the photographers and work with the writers to think of how best to cover a story in a visual way.”
In addition to sticking up for the photo staff Walker helped make Modoono a better photographer by critiquing his work and showing him ways to improve.
“He always taught us to shoot more than expected and shoot shoot things you wouldn’t normally shoot, most importantly get closer and in my first couple years I was nervous doing it but by the third year I was right up in people’s faces and it was fine,” says Modoono.
The impact that Walker had on Modoono as a photographer and editor is clear through his work and mentorship. Similar to Walker, Modoono is always working with writers and editors to find new and interesting ways to cover stories here at Northeastern. He will bounce ideas off of other staff members to try to brainstorm ways to be innovative in the digital media realm.
While Modoono and the other staff photographer technically work as part of a marketing team, the group of writers, photographers and videographers operate similarly to a newsroom, focusing on the students, faculty and staff at Northeastern.
Many of the rules and standards of photojournalism still apply to university photographers on a college campus, and the skills Modoono learned working as a photojournalist for many years have carried over to his current profession. Many of these skills he has in turn passed on to others and has helped the photography of those he works with.
On a personal level I have learned how important it is to have talented editors, photographers and writers you can feel comfortable approaching to show work and refine story ideas with. Without these people it is easy to get caught up in an idea and pursue a half-baked story that could have been improved if you had sought out feedback from other journalists.
I hope to one day pass along the passion for photography and use the skills I have learned from Modoono to other photographers during my career as a photographer and journalist.