A Gallery of Storytelling

Montclair State photojournalism students display their work.

Proud photographers showed off their documentary work in Morehead Lounge. Students, faculty and family joined to mingle about the stories surrounding them.

Wednesday’s photo exhibit featured documentary pictures produced by students in the School of Communication and Media. Photos displayed were captured during professor Thomas Franklin’s introduction to photojournalism class this spring semester.

“I think in a lot of ways social media has cheapened the value of photography for a lot of people,” Franklin said. “I think having an exhibit and having work being critiqued and evaluated and displayed in a respectful way is important in photography because even though it has been cheapened, it still matters it still is a great storytelling medium.”

Journalism major Loren Lewis, invited her mother and sister to come to the photo exhibit. One of Loren’s featured photos is a self-portrait of her surrounded by her favorite albums.

“I think each one has a great point of view,” Cheryl Lewis, mother of Loren Lewis, said. “They have positive and powerful perspectives that’s bringing out each of the artists that is taking these photos.”

Marc Schwarz, an adjunct professor at Montclair State came to view the gallery. Schwarz had worked with Franklin for many years at the Record

“Photographers aren’t always treated as reporters, but they are because they’re the eyes and there’s so many story ideas I would get from photographers because they were out there,” Schwarz said.

He was impressed with all of the work at the exhibit.

“To be a photographer you have to be there,” the former editor said. “You can’t text it, you can’t call it, you have to be there. When you see something it is more than just an image, you are capturing the emotion.”

A slideshow played in the background, filled of photos that had the possibility of being selected for canvas. Desserts and coffee was offered to guests.

Simmons said his favorite photo was the picture of Rooster Street art taken in Montclair.

“I drive past it everyday, I live in Montclair,” Simmons said. “I have the most personal connection with that one. I see it everyday so it’s great to see it’s on showcase out here. It gives other students who aren’t from Montclair a perspective of what kind of art is downtown.”

Senior television and digital media major, Nathalie Tilley, had her photo selected for the exhibit’s flyer. The picture shows many Montclair High School Students during March’s national walkout for gun control. It focuses on a girl holding a sign that says, “We call BS”.

“I don’t really ever think of anything when I take pictures,” Tilley said.

She said her picture captures how youth wants to make change.

The other picture Tilley had on display featured a close-up of her cousin singing in the lower east side of manhattan at his first concert.

English major Danielle Weidner said her favorite picture of hers out of the four she has on display is the portrait of a women hidden by her hat.

“That’s in New York, in the lower east side under the Brooklyn Bridge and right across from it is the skatepark called LES, Weidner said. “I was just hanging out there. I was actually shooting a documentary there for another class, and I saw this girl standing there and she had a really cool outfit on and I went up to her and just went ‘Hey, can I take a picture of you?’ She put her hat down and it just happened.”

Weidner said she liked seeing others view her work.

“It’s a good feeling especially when other people see them and they connect with them and they’re like, ‘Oh, I really like that,’” she said. “ It feels good especially as an artist because I tend to be hard on myself. I tend to not like my pieces, so when people have good things to say about it, it feels good.”

Junior journalism major Anthony Gabbianelli also was proud of his photos.

“It means a lot just knowing that I put in all this work all semester and what [professor Franklin] thinks is my best work is getting shown to everyone else,” Gabbianelli said.

Two of the 30 pictures are Gabbianelli’s work. His photos featured are of the Yogi Berra statue in front of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center and of Isadora Williams, a Montclair State student who competed in this past Winter Olympics as a figure skater for Brazil.

Gabbianelli said he was surprised of his photos that were selected to be displayed. Specifically, he thought his Isadora Williams photo was more about the story rather than the picture.

Professor Vernard Gantt took a look around and talked to Gabbianelli about his work and critiqued it. Gantt congratulated Gabbianelli for having his photos in the gallery.

“I have my own camera, I wanna learn more with my camera and I think I definitely did,” Gabbianelli said. “Franklin’s a good professor and I learned so much from him.”

“I wasn’t the greatest student, particularly when I was in high school I struggled a little bit, but I was always a creative person,” Franklin said. “I was really on an artistic track when I started college, but I took a photography class, because I’ll be honest, I thought it was going to be easy, but I fell in love with it. That was a lightbulb going on for me, and then I saw this opportunity to go and make pictures that married my creative interests with that fact that I really liked working in non-fiction.”

Franklin said he saw a lot of talent and improvement in the class.

He recalled when the class covered the National walkout and his student Frankie Perez came back and said, “That was exhilarating.” He said it was good to have that feedback.

Franklin said he chose the photos on the wall because he thought that they would best represent the university and would look good overtime.

“It’s so great to see the prints because so much of what we see is online and digital,” adjunct professor Jaime Bedrin said.

She also said that seeing a lot of the documentary pictures involving the national walkout for gun control is meaningful because of her involvement with a gun-control movement.

“Also it’s cool to see what students are doing while not in class, Bedrin said. “What they are capable of, and you should be proud of your work and keep doing it.”

Last spring was the first photojournalism gallery exhibit. The canvases from last year will be hung in the hallway between Morehead Hall and the School of Communication and Media.


Montclair State | New Jersey

Tina Urban

Tina Urban is a Communications Major at Montclair State University