My American dream: Becoming a photojournalist

Feb. 28, 2014 was the first time I covered several events by myself as an assistant photo editor for The Spectrum. I expected to get a camera and dreamt about being a photographer who had fantastic skills.

But as a beginner, I was a bit careless.

As soon as I opened the box, I dropped my new camera on the floor. Then when I arrived at the Miller Tennis Center later that day I realized I forgot my memory card. Amateur.

Little did I know how busy I would be that day.

When I finished taking photos for the tennis game at noon, I got a phone call from The Spectrum office instructing me to take photos for the lacrosse practice at 1 p.m. I was also an e-board member for the Japanese Student Association and I had to take photos and videos backstage of International Fiesta two hours later, at 3 p.m. and, at 6:30 p.m., I took photos for the actual event.

Later that night, I was back at The Spectrum. After my long day, I still had to edit all of my photos to get them ready for print and online publication.

This busy lifestyle has become regular for me as a photojournalist – normal but variable.

I had to adjust my schedule to take photos of breaking news on campus. I liked the change because I saw new things all the time. It was also a lot of physical work from carrying the equipment around with me – two or three lenses, a few batteries, my laptop and the camera body.

People usually think each photographer’s photos are similar, but that is not true. They are unique and different to each of us.

The second we press the shutter on the camera, the moments we captured are always unique because each person views the world at a different angle. Each second of our life is unique. This might be the glamour of photography itself.

Life is always unpredictable. I personally like photography more than other things. I enjoy taking photos, because photos capture the best moments of uncertainty in the world.

“A camera is the best partner of a photographer” – I’ve heard this saying many times.

But as a photographer, especially a photojournalist, I think a good team is my best partner. I’m happy I joined The Spectrum family because everyone here is my best partner.

One of my high school friends asked me, “I was wondering what you do as an international student at a university in America?”

I immediately wanted to email him a group of photos so he could see what I see.

The support and critiques of my friends and family these past three years have made my dreams come true. They encouraged me to take more photos and step outside of my comfort zone.

Those accomplishments are from everyone around me, not only from myself.

I’m thankful The Spectrum has this special photo issue. It allows me and my photographers to showcase the best moments we have captured. This newspaper has given me the skills to take photos and become a photojournalist. Everyone here has pushed me to find my passion.

Yusong Shi is the senior photo editor and can be reached at