BuzzFeed truly covers the gamut of things you might be interested in online. Travel, tech, books, cats, more cats, you name it. Though undeniably, one cornerstone of the publication is news.
Today, Kate Bubacz is the Senior Photo Editor at BuzzFeed News. We talked with Kate to learn some of her challenges, mistakes she sees photographers making, and where she looks to find new talent (and yes, she’s always looking).
How did you arrive at BuzzFeed? Tell us a bit about your background in photography.
I’ve been at BuzzFeed for about two years now. Before that, I’d been at ABC News and had freelanced at the New York Post and the Eddie Adams Workshop. I’ve always been around cameras, but I became interested in documentary photography and news media in high school and studied both in college.
What’s your biggest challenge in your role today?
Working at a new media company, I have the privilege of getting to experiment with talented reporters and photographers using new formats. It can be challenging balancing the possibilities of an assignment (video, social media, stills, photo posts) with the realistic constraints of time and access for the photographer.
Tell us about your needs for photography at BuzzFeed News. Are you looking for a specific type of aesthetic of does it range?
We very much look at a range of aesthetics, depending on the assignment. The majority of our stories call for multiple images to be used throughout, so we look for photographers with an eye for variety.
What common mistakes do you see photographers make when trying to pitch you? How do you prefer to be pitched?
Email is by far the best way to be pitched. The biggest mistake is sending a great story idea when you have no access to the subjects. The other mistake photographers make is pitching a story when we ran something similar recently. We try to not oversaturate a topic too much especially with photo essays, so it’s important to be familiar with our recent work.
BuzzFeed does a great job at featuring a range of photo stories. Is there a particular story that’s stuck with you in the past year? Tell us about it.
We work with so many talented people, it’s hard to pick just one. Amber Bracken and Daniella Zalcman both did tremendous work on the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, finding new ways to cover a story that was constantly evolving.
Jon Lowenstein’s work on a crooked cop in Chicago, which accompanied a major investigative piece, was brilliant on a really tough topic to visualize. And Warzer Jaff’s work in Iraq with Mike Giglio covering the Mosul offensive was inspiring and also terrifying.
Where do you typically look to find new photographers to work with? And if you look on Instagram, what tips can you give photographers on using the platform to attract photo editors like yourself?
I’m always on the lookout for new people – I try to go to portfolio reviews and take as many meetings with photographers as my schedule allows. I shamelessly scout bylines in other publications. I use Blink if we’re working in a new area and Visura or PHmuseum to browse projects that haven’t been published widely yet.
I have found people on Instagram that have posted for other projects or takeovers, but I mostly use Instagram more to check out portfolios. Within that, making sure that your contact info or website is in your profile is hugely important. If I’m interested in you, I need to know how to get in touch!
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