Picking up momentum by Helen Arase

The last couple of months have been interesting. I think interesting is an extremely overused word, but in this case, I think that’s how I would describe them… or at least, the opposite of boring.

It’s been a while since I seriously looked at my website - I think I write that every time I update it - but I’m picky about my work and not everything is worth showing to everyone.

But I have been doing a lot of running around lately.

The second semester started this week at the University of La Verne. I’m teaching Staff Photography, which is also being the adviser for the photography staff for ULV’s student weekly newspaper and biannual magazine and be in charge of their processing/production. So that’s fun.

I’ve also been freelancing different kinds of photo-related jobs - like documenting a local arts school’s vocal music program or fulfilling the Los Angeles-based photography needs for international publications in Australia and Finland.

This morning I shot one of three stories for “Kauppalehti Optio” (a Finnish business magazine) on USC’s campus. It was nice to stop by Annenberg and say hi to former professors.

I checked in with Spectrum and they don’t have anything for me to shoot right now so that’s a bummer. I’ve never been an on-retainer freelancer so I’m figuring it out as I go.

I’m doing so many jobs here and there; life is a little random so I’m trying to embrace it and try new things.

Like last week, the shoot for “Kauppalehti Optio” was in Santa Monica, and the guy hadn’t been east of downtown and the brief conversation with the writer was basically, “Oh you should go to Silver Lake! It’s lovely.”

Um, this isn’t going to turn into a rant about the real East LA, but come on, people. It made me think about my lowrider friends and the erasure of their friends/families’ struggles, the gentrification of their neighborhoods…

So basically what I’m saying is that I’m going to continue to get to know people out of my usual friend circle and start exploring a little more and learning a little more because I don’t know when I’ll have the opportunity to explore the nooks and crannies of this diverse city.

Pushing boxes by Helen Arase

What does a young journalist do whilst waiting for job-related calls and interviews?


We all need to pay rent and eat. I’ve always felt like a failure for not being employed in my field after graduating from school - twice.

However, I realize that’s totally bratty and people everywhere are doing what they have to do to make ends meet. Many people (read journalists) probably don’t talk about the jobs they do/did when un(der)employed.

I feel good that I’m doing so much. I’m trying. Not just sitting around and waiting for money to magically come to me.

I’m teaching the photojournalism classes at the University of La Verne. Freelancing as a photographer/videographer/journalist. On retainer as a freelance documentarian for a TV station. And I’m working in the backroom of my local Target.

Now I’m not doing all of these things all the time but it’s nice to know I’m out there.

I’m so glad I’ve taken this Target job because it’s actually one of the most fun I’ve ever had. I enjoy the people, the management and the work is better than running around answering questions on the floor. I like that it’s a little more laid-back. I’ve never had to lift more, climb more or had more bruises before, but I’m enjoying myself.

I haven’t broadcasted the Target job because it’s not in my wheelhouse. Obviously this is my journalism website and the internet is forever, but I felt that I should share why I’ve been MIA (I don’t blog much anyway) and what I’m doing to stay active.

Going through interviews by Helen Arase

In an effort to not be homeless, I’ve taken a part-time job - the kind that we all do in high school or college. Going into the interview and the manager saying, “Wait you have a master’s degree…” and then looking at me like, please explain why you’re here - yeah that sucked.

Death of my pride aside, I’m hustling. Having three jobs - this part-time job, teaching part-time and freelancing - is making me productive. It gives me motivation when I go through interviews too.

I’ve completed the most intense hiring process for a documentarian position at a television station. It’s taken me months of various interview stages to get to the point of being “hired” as a freelancer.

Really exciting place to be, obviously, but the station isn’t ready to start work on the show and doesn’t know if they’ll hire me to work. I’ve just been cleared or designated by the company as “hirable” and now they have the green light to contract me.

I’ve also been talking to the person who’d be my supervisor and he said I’m basically runner-up for the full-time position that needs to be filled in January. It’s a little punch in the gut, but I’m also pleasantly surprised that I’m this close to being the best fit for a video job. I’m focusing on that and hoping they call me.

I went back and watched my documentary again because I wanted to see if I could identify one or more things that would make me an attractive candidate, especially if that was the only work sample of mine they would have seen.

I remembered how much I liked creating this documentary. It was super stressful but I’m proud of the result. I will always see all the stuff I wish I’d done differently in the shooting and the editing, but I’m OK with sending this out to represent who I am as a storyteller.

With free time I’ve been creating short videos and photos. I’ll need to get those online. I had a hard drive mishap and am still catching up.

Other interviews come up every now and then too - and have my eye on something big that just got posted today.

The grind never stops. I won’t stop until I’m working full-time as a journalist.