SNAPSHOTS: Ask a Photo Editor
PDNedu: Can you briefly describe your role with The New York Times?
Jolie Ruben: I am a picture editor in the Culture section. We handle
photos for the arts, including music, theater, film, television, dance, fine
arts and architecture.
Jeffrey Furticella: I am a picture editor in the Metro section. We are
responsible for coverage of news and enterprise stories centered
around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
PDNedu: Can you describe the types of stories you work on, some
photographers you work with regularly and why you work with them?
JR: In Culture, I work on profiles of actors and musicians, so I work mainly
on portrait shoots. This past week, Natalia Mantini photographed
Yalitza Aparicio, the star of ROMA, in New York, and Magdalena Wosinska
photographed the musician Maggie Rogers in Los Angeles.
I went with photographers who I thought could shoot these subjects
in a unique way. We shoot celebrities who are photographed all the
time, so I’m always looking for photographers who can come up with a
way to present subjects in a different light.
JF: From Gabriella Angotti-Jones documenting the prevalence of
children in New York’s shelter system to Amy Lombard’s colorful GIFs of
an Italian restaurant bridging its storied past with its Instagram-ready
future, the Metro report transforms a hometown newspaper for a
global audience. We pair photographers with assignments that not only
highlight their skills, but also push them to
find something surprising and fresh.
PDNedu: Can you provide an example of
a project where you decided to hire a
JR: My colleague Alana Celii introduced me to Ana Cuba. I thought her
work married an artful refinement with a biting sense of humor. When
critic Roberta Smith profiled the British sculptor Sarah Lucas I thought
Ana would be a great fit for the shoot based on what I knew about
Lucas’s artwork and her personality.
JF: In March of 2018, I was introduced to Alexey Yurenev, who was
working on a personal project about Brighton Beach. After seeing an
image sample, I knew that we wanted to work with Alexey. As a Russian
immigrant living in Brighton Beach, he was uniquely poised to define
PDNedu: How important is it that photographers can also incorporate video?
Are there other skills you look for when hiring a new photographer?
JR + JF: Photography is a competitive industry, and it is critical for
photographers to distinguish themselves from the pack. Standout skills
include: video or lighting expertise, being multilingual and the ability to
report and author a story.
At The Times, visuals are at the forefront. Employing video is one of
the ways we bring stories to life. For example, during the World Cup
last year, Jonah Markowitz was assigned to cover the crowds at watch
parties in different ethnic enclaves of the city. This gave our audience
the window to experience New Yorkers of various nationalities as they
watched their clubs compete, and video was critical to bringing these
fans and venues to life.
PDNedu: As The New York Times continues to grow its digital subscriber
base, do you see a changing need for visuals?
JR + JF: Print-focused editing has given way to prioritizing digital-first
approaches. We are fortunate to have the resources and talent in the
building to present the work of our photographers in engaging ways
across myriad platforms.
This past fall, we published a feature profiling the puppet that would
be the star of “King Kong” on Broadway. We knew we wanted both
beautiful portraits, as well as video, that would bring the puppet to
life. A photo and video team worked collaboratively to tell the story.
Erik Tanner applied his sensibilities to the “portraits,” and Ezra Hurwitz
was able to focus on the video component and give the puppet a sense
PDNedu: What advice do you have for students and emerging visual
storytellers to help grow their careers and get on your radar?
JR + JF: Photography is a process, and the most important thing you can
do is develop a voice. Embrace who you are, what is important to you
and how you see the world. Editors will hire you because of what you
bring to a story, not because of what you think editors want. EDU
Interview by KATEL YN PETERS + STACE Y GOLDBERG
Jolie Ruben and
Q&A with picture editors for the Culture
and Metro sections of The New York Times
As picture editors for the Culture and Metro sections of The Times, Jolie Ruben and Jeffrey Furticella collectively have their hands in features across the
publication, from the arts to relevant news stories in the New York Metropolitan area. For all of their stories, they are looking for photographers who
are setting themselves apart from “the pack,” as a result of their unique skills, expertise or way of presenting a subject. Here, they discuss the kind of
photographers and photography projects that catch their eyes.
ABOVE: A portrait by
Natalia Mantini of
Yalitza Aparicio, star of
the movie ROMA, published
in The New York Times