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Josh Williams: Photojournalist, 2002 Alumnus Exhibits Powerful Photos

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ The war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, two of the most significant events in recent history, are the subject of an exhibition of photographs that will go on display Friday, Oct. 20, in Feinberg Library at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh.  

Photo by Josh Williams taken in Iraq The collection of 25 large-format photographs, which was shot by Josh Williams, a photojournalist and 2002 Plattsburgh graduate, includes 15 from his Iraq War series and 10 from his Hurricane Katrina series.

Williams will be on campus for the opening of the exhibit and will give a public lecture, ”Light Chaser,” at 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20, in the Alumni Conference Room, Angell College Center, in conjunction with Homecoming 2006 at SUNY Plattsburgh. The collection of these photos, which is located near the entrance to the Rockwell Kent Collection in Feinberg Library, will be on display from Friday, Oct. 20, through Jan. 7, 2007. Everyone is welcome to attend the lecture and exhibit.

Based in New York City, Williams is a freelance photographer and travels around the world. His latest assignment took him to South America: first to Venezuela to cover the president, Hugo Chavez, then on to Brazil to track down the pilot who crashed his charter plane into a commercial airliner killing 155 people two weeks ago.

Since graduation, Williams' photos have appeared in magazines and newspapers throughout the world. He served as an embedded journalist in Iraq and is currently under freelance contact with the New York Post.

"My embed experience in Iraq, without a doubt, has been my greatest work as a journalist and a photographer," said Williams. "To be able to produce stories and photograph events in the environment of combat took more focus and dedication than I ever fathomed. Walking the streets of Baghdad on Iraqi Election Day still gives me goose bumps when I think about it. I interviewed the mayor of Baghdad while I was there. His security had AK-47s pointed in my face the whole time."

Williams gained practical experience while at SUNY Plattsburgh by serving as photo editor of the student newspaper, Cardinal Points , a photo intern at the Press-Republican , writing intern for the Lake Champlain Weekly and a photo intern at El Mercurio in Chile.

"At Plattsburgh, we would work through the night on Cardinal Points and go straight to class without sleep so we could make the deadline. It was that mentality that guided me through Iraq," said Williams. "The ability to multitask and work under high amounts of stress is a survival tool in the New York tabloid business. As a photojournalist, not many enter the job market with a degree or background in journalism - this sets me apart from others in an incredibly competitive market."

Shawn Murphy, associate professor of journalism at SUNY Plattsburgh, remembers Williams.  Murphy said that the knowledge and experience Williams gained at SUNY Plattsburgh was an excellent foundation for a career as a photojournalist.

"He is passionate about what he does," said Murphy. "When a major news story is breaking news, he is immediately and automatically thinking about how best to tell the stories of people adversely affected by man-made and natural disasters in the world with his images and words - and this he does.

"Josh has a photojournalist's keen eye and is able to see both the small details and the big picture in the scenes he shoots. Too many photographers look for one or the other, but seldom both."

Williams said that if an individual is to be successful in the photojournalism business, one has to be hard working and passionate.

"At the New York Post , the ability to nail a story on a daily basis is my greatest accomplishment. In this business, you are only as good as your last job. The fact that I am working for one of the nation's top 10 newspapers is incredible."
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