Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Ramirez & Watershed Visual Media

Watershed Visual Media at work.

Watershed Visual Media at work.

CCSF Photography Alumni Stephanie Ramirez shares her experience as a Photo Editor in New York City for Watershed Visual Media. WVM is a full service photographic communications production company, designed to work in concert with corporate communications and publicity functions. They have extensive experience in publicity photography, particularly in entertainment and television.

SR: Remember when I told you that I wanted to move back to NYC and become like Edward Steichen? Well, I definitely moved, just haven’t done the other half of that dream just yet.

In July 2012, I moved back to the city that never sleeps and transferred jobs. At that time, I was working just waiting for a door to open. In late November 2012, my door opened. I landed the job as a Photo Editor at Watershed Visual Media (for TV shows/series) I honestly did not think that I would get it – my nerves took over that evening during the interview.

Two hours later, I received an email from my boss asking if I was available to come in that next Monday.

My first day was the best day. Ever watch The Devil Wears Prada? I felt like Andy my entire first week. I still do. The work environment is somewhat similar. It’s at a giant photo studio and I have my own desk and iMac. The difference between Andy and I is that I’ve never complained about my job or my boss. David. M. Russell. He is really down to earth. My boss is the photographer who goes out and shoots all of the shows and I am the editor.

There’s a big difference between a Photo Editor and a Photo Retoucher. A Photo Retoucher is, well, the retoucher. The “Photoshop Master.” The clients we have are Nurse Jackie, The Rachael Ray Show, The Big C, Comic Book Men, All My Children, The Good Wife, Project Runway All Stars, and Martha Stewart. Nurse Jackie is my personal favorite to edit.

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 3.50.54 PMA Photo Editor goes through thousands and thousands of photos daily and chooses “the best of the best” to send back to the clients. There is very minimal retouching (Lightroom and/or Photoshop) used, unless it’s crucial.

What I have learned as an Editor is that you must have a great eye and focus on the details. Every client is different and they all want different things. You definitely have to be very careful on which photos get sent back to them.
Ever see terrible photos of celebrities? Eating with their mouths open? Blinking and have one eye closed? Awkward hand gestures? It happens to us all, well those are the photos I can’t send out.

Once I’ve selected the batch of photos that are okay, I tag/color code the images I want to send to the client. Before sending them all out, I have to make sure each get their, what I like to call, DNA, attached to them. Adding the IPTC Metadata (DNA) to all photos, makes searching and archiving much easier. This is also very important for the sake of the photographer and the client, attaching “All Rights Reserved. No Archive. No Sale” really helps in this business.

What I love most about my job is that it doesn’t feel like a job. I go on field trips to talk shows, sets, and MSLO and just watch how the magic happens. On the days that I don’t get lucky enough to tag along, I oftenback-up/burn to blu-ray dvd all of the episodes and shows that have been edited. There are some clients that would want a certain photo from March 2007 and it’s also my job to find that one photo they ask for.

Organization is key.

I’ve had the amazing experience of being behind the scenes on the Live! With Kelly & Michael and The Rachael Ray Show. I was star struck when I met Martha Stewart at MSLO. Her cooperate office is HUGE. My boss worked by her side for 3 years before her show went downhill.

Meeting the behind the scenes people is more important to me than meeting the celebrities. My boss used to work for CBS and his good friend is Katheleen Prutting, she is the Photo Editor for CBS. Meeting her was definitely the highlight of my year. I hope to one day, be in her shoes.

One of the main reasons why my boss hired me is because I am a “go-getter.” My colleague, Laura Mejia (BFA Cinemetography) and I started a photography company in 2011, Flash Focus Fotos. He told me that nowadays, you don’t see people my age actually try and become an entrepreneur. Just because you carry a camera around, does not mean you are a photographer. He saw how passionate I was about Photography and the industry and wanted to help me become that person I want to be.,He has indeed. As of now, Flash Focus Fotos hasn’t been shooting. We’re working on a project called Same Love.

Screen Shot  2013-08-21 at 4.06.37 PMWe want to make a documentary showing that love is the same, regardless of who you are and where you come from. Culture, Sexual Orientation, Gender, Ethnicity, Age.For this to be a success, we need funds. We have already begun asking and interviewing different couples, all with different stories and we are currently in the process of making a KickStarter. a large portion of the donations will go to the Human Rights Campaign.

When I pitched this to my boss, he loved the idea. It’s something that needs to be shown. It may or may not have been done before, but it hasn’t been shown by FFF. Slowly but surely. It takes time and patience to wake up and live your dreams. Money doesn’t buy happiness, knowledge and wisdom does.

If Same Love touches at least one heart out there, I know we have succeeded.

As a freelance photographer, I’ve photographed and worked with Designer Nick Alan in The Jacket Social Experiment (fashion blog). I was first the photographer’s assistant, but after the photographer failed to show up at the first shoot, I stepped in with the equipment I had at the moment (my 7D and a nifty fifty mm) and took over. Now Nick has two photographers.

Work and our project definitely takes up most of my time, which I don’t mind, but I haven’t been shooting as much as I would like. The city is filled with secrets and I WANT to go out there and find them. I’d like to think I am pretty creative when it comes to making photos because I’d like to one day have sell my future book or become the next Herb Ritts or Edward Steichen. I could say I dream a lot, but nothing is impossible, you just have to be passionate, humble, and patient.

Thank You for everything and for also reading this extremely long email.

Steff Ramirez

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