Questrom: Student Profiles

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Feeling the wind rush through her hair as she jumps out of a plane that is 13,000 ft above ground is the type of thrill Xue Zhang craves. Zhang has gone sky diving 3 times now, once in California, then Hawaii and recently Dubai.

“Mindlessness, is the sensation that keeps me coming back for more,” said Zhang. “When you are falling through the air, you have nothing to fear, nothing to worry, nothing to care or even think about.”

Diving is a reoccurring theme in Zhang’s life. Her most recent experience was when she dove into a lake in the southern part of China and took under water photographs for National Geographic.

Zhang said, “It was difficult because we had to get approval from a number of experts before diving in the lake. We were talking to experts in biology and archaeology. When we were finally certified to dive in the lake, it was all worth it.”

The “we” Zhang is referring to is herself and her instructor, Qiang Li Ghang. Ghang is a professional photographer and chose Zhang as his unofficial assistant for a year. Ghang was so impressed with Zhang’s work; he hooked her up with the gig of a lifetime, working for National Geographic.

Ghang said, “Xue has a natural eye for photography. She is patient and very observant. These are two attributes that are critical in a successful photographer. I have seen her capture beautiful moments and her skills are only getting stronger.”

Zhang was also hooked up with the National Geographic scholarship because she was the honors student in her district for her high school in Beijing. Zhang’s school flew her out to Russia for free, and paid for her travel and boarding fees. A pretty good deal, considering National Geographic was also paying her 700$ dollars per image.

Zhang said, “I wasn’t nervous for the scholarship that summer. Sure I was leaving my family for the first time, but I had the opportunity to go see another world and then come back and share the experience with them. I would have so much regret if I did not go.”

Working for National Geographic is an experience that Zhang feels will benefit her in the long run. One of Zhang’s biggest life goals is to own her own photography studio.

Zhang said, “I am a finance major in Questrom. I enjoy learning that material, but math has always been a means to an end for me. In the future, I see myself working for a couple years in finance, but only to get the money to go to graduate school and start up my own photography studio.”

Jumping out of a plane is a walk in the park for Zhang. The transition between school and work is what really jumps her bones.

“It’s scary,” said Zhang. “Entry level jobs do not pay very well and I will be independently supporting myself straight out of college.”

Zhang is practical about her future, she knows the transition between school and work will be difficult, so she has already started saving money for after college. For this reason, playing the stocks is part of Zhang’s daily routine.

“Go to class, hit the gym, meet up with friends and then go home to deal with stocks,” Zhang said is her typical day-to-day schedule. “My dad taught me how to deal with stocks in high school. I have a pretty big portfolio now. I manage about 52 stocks and I’ve made a decent profit.”

Stocks are a source of revenue that Zhang will continue to grow throughout the duration of her life. Zhang is realistic about her photography career. She said, “photography isn’t a practical career anymore. Today, anyone can take a photo on their phone, so people are less likely to hire professional photographers unless they are having a special event like a wedding. The last thing I want to do is be a wedding photographer.”

Weddings are an element Zhang does not see at all in her future. When asked if she sees marriage and kids in her life, Zhang replied “no, at least not for now.”

Settling down is not on Zhang’s priority list. In fact, she wants to maximize the amount of freedom she has. For this reason, Zhang works very hard in school and takes advantage of every opportunity given to her.

Photography is a practice that has brought Zhang an abundance of freedom in her life. Zhang received her first camera from her father in high school. Zhang’s father purchased this camera when Zhang was born and used it to photograph her earliest years as a child.

“It was such a blessing when my father gave me my first camera,” said Zhang. “I ran around my village in Beijing taking photograph’s of scenery and people. I was a beginner of course so most of the photos are garbage.” Zhang laughed at herself.

Now, Zhang has had a ton of practice taking photographs and she has gotten pretty good to say the least. When asked what the key to taking a good photograph is, Zhang said, “Whether you are photographing people or scenery, it’s all about capturing the right moment.”

Zhang said, “It requires a lot of patience. If you are photographing people, you want to capture a moment of eye contact or true emotion. If you are photographing nature, you need to be alert, because a moment of beauty can pass in an instant.” Zhang’s patience was put to the test when she was working for National Geographic and had an assignment to photograph lightening in southern China.

Zhang said, “I had been waiting for an hour for lightening to strike. Not to mention it was raining. There were a couple of little strikes, but what makes an amazing photograph is capturing the biggest and brightest strike.”

Patience is one of the many important virtues that Xue learned from her grandfather, when she lived with him over a summer break in high school. This was an experience that Zhang treasures to this day.

Zhang said, “I lived with my grandfather because I had to take summer classes and he was closer to my school. Initially I was dreading the experience, but I am happy I went because I learned how to get along with someone two or three times my age. Despite our age difference, we found we have a lot of things in common.”

Zhang and her grandfather discovered their mutual love for Chinese opera. That summer, the two of them went to a performance almost every day. “I think that going to see those performances actually contributed to my photography skills. I gained a better appreciation for culture and I learned how to spot the really special moments in life” said Zhang.

When Zhang and her grandfather were not attending the opera, they were training Lulu their pet bird to talk. Lulu got so good, that he actually became a flirt and would hit on the girls that came into the house. That is, if the girls were up to his standards.

“It depends on a person’s appearance and tone of voice,” said Zhang. “If someone is wearing bright colors and has a high pitched voice, Lulu will say ‘hey girl, you look good today’.”

Lulu likely got his charm from Zhang, because Zhang is kind and welcoming to everyone she meets. Zhang said, “As an only child, I take making new friends very seriously. I try to be friendly to everyone because you never know where you will meet someone.”

Zhang can speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese and French, so she can meet friends fairly internationally. Zhang has made many friends around the world as she has traveled and she does not plan on stopping anytime soon.

Marathon Monday

Runners from around the world gather in Boston for the Marathon every year. Crowds stretch from Hopkinton to BackBay to cheer on the runners in their 26 mile endeavor. The Boston Marathon is an event that brings people together and has coined the phrase Boston Strong.

For Boston college students however, Marathon Monday is hardly about watching the runners. College students wake up at 6am, long before the race has begun to pregame for the day’s festivities. Beer for breakfast is not uncommon.

By 10am, locations like Allston and Beacon Street are booming with darties (day parties). College students parade from one house to the other, searching for a party with rowdiest crowd and the best drinks.

Marathon Monday is like the Mardi Gras of Boston for college students. Nothing is out of the ordinary. The lawns of Allston residents are decorated with crushed beer cans & everywhere you turn someone can be seen doing a Keg stand. Students will do whatever it takes to make their house party the most lit. Whether that means hiring a DJ or getting a giant bouncy house, nothing is out of the question.

The spirit of freedom is so apparent on Marathon Monday. College kids can be seen dancing on picnic tables and blowing bubbles from their apartment windows. The fun only lasts until the cops come and break up the party scene, then its on to the next party.

Newstrack Post 13

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NYTimes.com

The article Olympic Bodies, Can You Guess Their Sport, is unique and fun. It was produced by Taige Jensen, Matt Ruby, Bedel Saget, Rumsey Taylor, Lucas Waldron and Joe Ward, with video by Alan Del Rio Ortiz and Leslie Davis, and lighting by Philip Montgomery.

The article is structured as a game. The viewer is shown an Olympic athlete in their skivvies as well as information on that athlete’s weight, height and age. Based on the information given, the viewer is challenged to guess the Olympic athlete’s sport.

I like that this article is super interactive. When the viewer clicks on a sport, the article shows the viewer the correct answer and information about the body types associated with that sport. Also, once the answer is revealed, the athlete moves from his fixed position and acts out their sport, which I thought was a nice touch.

This article has a lot of great multimedia elements, which allows it to function well as a game. For example it has a button to start the game over, and also a replay button for each video of the athlete performing their sport. I think that this article could’ve benefited from having a little globe for each athlete, pinpointing what country each athlete represents.

Newstrack Post 12

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Nytimes

I thought the article, Illuminating North Korea, with photographs and video by David Guttenfelder had good imagery and text. The photography was really the main piece of informative multimedia. Many of the photographs that Guttenfelder took were set up and approved by the government because of North Korea’s strict policies.

The text didn’t really give much information detail about North Korea, it only provided context for the photo displayed. The text also was encouraging to the viewer to look into the underlying meaning of the photo, which I thought was helpful.

I think that this article definitely could’ve benefitted from a map or a brief history on North Korea. I also would have appreciated interviews from locals, however I know that the reporters were likely limited in whom they were allowed to speak to.

Red Sox Rained out Game

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On Thursday, April 6th the Red Sox versus Pirates game was canceled due to rainy weather. The once crowded streets of Fenway Park emptied quickly as fans scurried to  nearby bars and restaurants like Bleacher bar and Landsdowne bar.

The hostess at Bleacher bar, Lisa Mitchell said “rain or shine, on game day business is good here. It doesn’t matter if the game is cancelled, plenty of customers will come in anyway because they are in the area. I think we get so many customers on game day because of our proximity to the stadium. We are so close that I can hear everything from the front door, sometimes when I take a smoke break, I listen and it feels like I’m actually there, standing in the stadium.”

Buses were parked on the side of the road, filled with students whose spirits could not be broken by the game’s cancelation. Taylor Davis, an eighth grade student, from Clarance R. Edwards middle school said she was “just happy to be out of school.”

Baseball fans, however, were not pleased about the cancellation. A red sox fan, Tim Roberts said, “I took off from work and came from California to see this game. Now I’m just gonna try to stay dry and probably grab a drink from Bar Louie.”

Quotes: Final Multimedia Project

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For my final multimedia project, I will be profiling two Boston University students. Below are quotations from my interviews with James Hollis & Xue Zhang.

“My brother was at a party at Harvard, but he had some problems getting in even though he was invited. This made us think, what if there was a way to secure your attendance to a party? That’s where the idea for the Movez app came from.“ – James

“We started market research, we looked at different platforms like Eventbright. Party apps like these attempt to do the same thing’s as the Movez app, but fail to socially engineer the experience. This is what millenials are trying accomplish in party apps now.” – James

“On my first project for National Geographic, I had to get a waiver of approval from the government to go diving in a lake in the southern part of china and take photographs underwater.” – Xue

“There are so many limits behind the camera. When you are taking a photo you are forced to think about what you really want to convey in the 135mm frame. You have to kick out all unnecessary information and focus on what is crucial for the viewer to see.” – Xue

Newstrack Post 11

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This NYTimes article, Desperate Crossing, written by Scott Anderson and photographed by Paulo Pellegrin, uses an abundance of multimedia elements to capture the severity of migrant’s journey down the Libya-Italy sea crossing. I like that this article has a clear beginning and end, & contains photography which illustrates the duration of the journey.

In an effort to escape poverty, migrants from the sub-Saharan Africa, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan pay an average of $1,500 to squeeze onto the crowded boats of smugglers on a journey to Italy or Greece for employment and safety.

So far this year, a quarter of a million migrants have made this dangerous journey in the Mediterranean area. The conditions of this journey are not ideal to say the least. Passengers have minimal space and resources are scarce. I like that this article uses a map to demonstrate the shocking amount of casualties that have resulted from this voyage.

This article shows intense photography of the harsh conditions passengers endure on the journey to employment and safety. Pellegrin captured key moments such as when all the passengers on the boat realized they were lost and when the boat was eventually rescued. I like that this article is easy to maneuver. As the viewer scrolls through the article, the story slides from photograph then to descriptive text and video footage which works compatibly to bring the article to life.