Jay Gorodetzer is one of the artists featured in PL130 Gallery's photography show Off Topic, a photo show about the unassigned work of photojournalists who worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News since the 80s. This week we caught up with Jay to learn more about his work and experience.
How did you first get into photography? And how did you make your way into becoming a photojournalist?
"I was mildly interested while in high school. I went to WB Saul HS of Agriculture Sciences, in Philly. I wanted to be a Veterinarian. When I got to Penn State, my work caught the attention of other photographers and they encouraged me to work for the student paper, The Daily Collegian. Becoming a professional photographer was the farthest thing from my mind.
While a Collegian photographer, I took an interest in sports. I soon began working for PSU Sports Information and I was a Photojournalism teaching assistant.
After two summer internships at the Bucks County Courier Times, I went to work at The Phila Inquirer, where I was a photographer, photo editor, and assistant news editor. I left the paper in 2008, after 20 years."
When speaking about your photography, do you describe yourself as an artist, photographer, or photojournalist?
I’d say I’m a commercial photographer with a photojournalism background.
In what years did you work for the Philadelphia Inquirer?
1988 - 2008
Do you have a favorite story of an encounter with a subject either on an assignment or a personal project?
Two assignments that I worked on from the onset of the breaking news led me to be part of the Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Team Spot News coverage: 1) The Heinz fatal helicopter crash over Merion Elem School. 2) John du Pont hostage situation
In what ways is photographing on assignment different from personal editorial work? And what are the biggest differences in your approach and considerations between personal editorial projects and assignments?
On assignment, we can do as much planning as possible, but, once there, we have little, if any, control over the situation. We have to tell the story to the best of our abilities without disturbing the situation. As a commercial photographer, I bring the same instincts and values, but I have more time and control. However, I do my best to let things play out naturally as often as possible, without jeopardizing ethics.
What are some subjects and themes that you are drawn to photographing while not on assignment?
I love sports!! I love photographing family celebrations. I love photographing all sorts of events for my private school clients!!
Are you active on Instagram? Who do you follow that you really admire?
Yes, I’m active, but not as much as I should be. Some people I admire: Gary Hershorn, Eric Mencher, Laurence Kesterson, Heather Khalifa, Rachel Wisniewski
What piece of advice would you give to a young photographer who is interested in photojournalism?
Find a kind, smart mentor and work your ass off.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about yourself or work?
I’d still be at The Inquirer if it hadn’t been for the industry and economy plummeting. I’m happy with my decision to leave and go out on my own. I love what I do, and that makes up for a lot of things (job security, benefits, tech support…)
Visit Jay's website to see more of his work or follow him on Instagram @JayAGorodetzer
Jay Gorodetzer - August 12, 2022
Thanks so much for posting the article and for organizing & hosting the exhibit!!