Emma Howells

Emma Howells

Photo courtesy of: Emma Howells

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OHIO photojournalism student interns at The New York Times: Next stop, Denmark

Ohio University 2018 graduate Emma Howells was one of 32 students worldwide to be selected as an intern for The New York Times, and one of only three photography interns to work at the internationally-acclaimed newspaper this past summer. It was the first time the company had an all-female group of photography interns, and thousands of applications were received from around the world.  

Howells, who graduated on Dec. 15, with a bachelor’s degree in visual communication, got the call that she had been chosen as an intern for The Times while driving a particularly grey stretch of Ohio highway. She said she spent the rest of that drive trying to fathom what a summer in the city would be like.

“Above all else, I felt surprised,” Howells said. “I wanted to question it, it just couldn't have been real.”

The Scripps College of Communication student didn’t imagine that, after a last-minute emergency, she would be tasked with handling three remote cameras (something she had never done before) to shoot the Belmont Stakes, a Thoroughbred horse race.

It all worked out in her favor, as a photo captured by one of the cameras ended up on the cover of the Sunday edition of The New York Times’ “Sports” section. It was her first published photo for The Times, but definitely not her last.

The OHIO student also didn’t imagine that she would try to upload photographs of New York City’s Pride celebration at a jam-packed Starbucks — but to no avail. She had to run down the street in search of a stronger internet connection. That has got to be listed in the job description somewhere, right?

During her internship, Howells also landed several photographs on A1 of The New York Times. One of them was a shot of the July 4 fireworks over the New York City skyline. Meaghan Looram, director of photography for The Times, wrote that Howells and the other photo interns stood out for their “striking combination of technical skill, journalistic rigor and elevated visual aesthetic.”

That seems to be a common thread. Marlena Sloss, a friend of Howells and a second-year graduate photojournalism student, said what sets her friend apart from other photographers is her “visually clean aesthetic,” while still creating interesting compositions that contain tension.

“That's hard to do; photographing chaos is easy but turning the chaos into simplicity is a challenge and Emma excels at that,” Sloss explained. “Her photos are visually simple at first glance and then reveal that little something ‘extra’ that makes you keep staring at the image.”

Dr. M. Duane Nellis, president of Ohio University, said OHIO is thrilled to have had a Bobcat show the world what life looks like through her lens.

Howells said during her summer in New York, she was treated to so many new experiences and challenges that have newly designed the work she is doing now. Of course, there was still more she wanted to accomplish while she had the ability to work with such a staff — but Howells said she would never have felt ready to leave.

“This feeling of unrest serves to re-inspire me to want to finish projects and prove that I am capable of following through,” she said. “My only hope is to honor this trust that they put in me and continue to push my work in new directions.”

Come January 2019, she will be doing just that.

Howells will be traveling to Aarhus, Denmark, to study at the Danish School of Media and Journalism, where she will focus on challenging her knowledge of visual communication theory and building long-term stories. She will be there until June.

“I've admired their program for years and have a few close friends who have gone through the program recently and highly recommend it,” Howells noted. “I'm very interested in the theoretical side of photography and I hope this program will allow me to explore these ethical questions and advance my understanding of what photography can be.”

Over the past few years, Howells also has interned at The Columbus Dispatch, the Tulsa World in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and she was the photo editor at Ohio University’s student newspaper, The Post. Howells also was the president of the OHIO chapter of the National Press Photographers Association.

Additionally, she attended the Eddie Adams Workshop, the only tuition-free photojournalism seminar of its kind, in New York; studied abroad at the Scotland Field School for Documentary Photojournalism in the United Kingdom; and attended the Center for Collaborative Journalism’s Digital Media Camp in Georgia.

While she learned a lot from these seminars and internships, Howells also gave credit to OHIO’s VisCom community.  

“I have learned so much from late night conversations with my friends in the program,” she added. “They're a motivated and talented group and I appreciate it when they challenge me on my beliefs. We're all trying to navigate this ever-changing industry together and it helps to be able to compare notes with other students who are at the same place.”

To view more of Howells’ photography, visit www.instagram.com/emmajoyhowells. To learn more about Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication, visit www.ohio.edu/viscom.