Environmental photojournalist Sean Gallagher, Pulitzer Center visit Iowa City


Photojournalist Sean Gallagher stands in the Adler Building on Thursday. Gallagher covers environmental issues for a variety of publications. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Andy Mitchell, [email protected]

Journalism students learned from a professional in the industry, thanks to a new partnership.

Photojournalist Sean Gallagher, in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center, visited the University of Iowa on Wednesday and Thursday to talk about environmental issues and opportunities for young journalists.

Gallagher has seen the effects of climate change during his travels in countries like China and India. He worked on photojournalism projects with the Pulitzer Center on topics including China’s desertification problem, warming climate in Tibet, and pollution problems in India.

Now, in partnership with the Pulitzer Center, Gallagher travels around to visit students from middle-school classrooms to university lecture halls.

For the first time, the Pulitzer Center is collaborating with the UI. The center, based in Washington, D.C. promotes quality, multi-platform journalism across the world, their website states.

“We work with about 30 other universities,” said Ann Peters, the university and community outreach director for the Pulitzer Center. “We’ll offer the opportunity to apply to our international reporting fellowships. For Iowa, this is brand-new.”

RELATED: Climate change still roiling U.S. politics

Before photographing Asia’s environmental challenges and being featured in publications including National Geographic, Time, and The New York Times, Gallagher studied zoology in the UK. He said he has had an interest in environmental issues since high school.

“Living in a rural area, I felt more connected to the environment,” Gallagher said. “More than I would if I lived in the city.”

Gallagher started photography as a hobby, borrowing his mother’s film camera and turning his brother’s room into a dark room while he was off at college. He said he would stay up until the early hours of the morning developing photos.

His first job as a photojournalist was for a local newspaper, taking pictures of a hotel. It was not the most interesting job, he said, but he appreciated the work.

RELATED: Hawkeyes respond to recent hurricanes, climate change

Gallagher stepped into his more recognized work after a yearlong internship program for photographers. He received a grant to go overseas to start working. Influenced by his father’s travels, Gallagher picked China as his first destination. He started with small stories about different communities and worked his way to bigger projects.

“Attention is no longer just on the West,” Gallagher said. “It’s moving eastward. And I wanted to connect them to us.”

He said visuals can jump across language and go viral better than the written word.

“The picture is worth a thousand words is a saying for a reason,” said Kylah Hedding, a UI assistant professor of journalism. “Especially when we’re talking about environmental issues. It can be a lot more impactful than the written word.”

After more than 12 years, Gallagher said he has evolved as a journalist alongside the technology, looking at his growth from just photography to photography, short film, blog posts, and essays. He sees the future of journalism in the Internet and social media.

Facebook Comments