Hearst Multimedia winner Chris Janjic talks about his passions, style and plans
By Austin GalovskiApril 17, 2014
To award-winning Newhouse School senior Chris Janjic, photojournalism is only the latest step in a long and inspiring pursuit of artistic expression. Janjic was born in Boulder, Colo., and grew up backpacking, rock climbing and mountain biking. His hobbies foster his adventurous spirit and contribute to his creative drive.
Here at Syracuse University, Janjic is the president of the Outing Club, leading camping groups and organizing getaways. Although originally enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, Janjic transferred into the Newhouse School his freshman year, and is also working to complete a minor in political science. This year, Janjic received fifth place and a $1,000 scholarship in the Hearst Multimedia Enterprise contest for his piece, “Halfway There,” which addresses the struggles of women overcoming drug addiction and abuse. Janjic produced the piece as part of the Fall Workshop, which is an annual multimedia immersion offered by Newhouse’s multimedia photography and design program.
Janjic was encouraged by his teacher and mentor Jon Glass to submit “Halfway There” to the competition. Janjic also made a point to give credit to all of his teachers at Newhouse for their input on his creative development.
“My professors here have been my biggest support and inspiration in the development of my photography career,” he says. “It might be easy to say that some other third party has been important, but my professors are the most tangible and have given me the most real encouragement.”
After graduation, Janjic plans on applying for jobs at newspapers, and wants to assist professional photographers. He’s eager to mature and define his own personal style and it’s clear he is pursuing his passion.
Can you describe your creative process?
“In order to really find the essence of any story, it’s important to spend a lot of time with your subjects. For example, I spent the entire weekend with the women at the halfway house for the project that won me the award. You have to build a relationship; it takes trust.”
What, then, would you consider your biggest success?
“Finally figuring out what I want to do. Whether it’s through photography or something else, I want to be a storyteller. I want to find people whose stories deserve to be told and get them out into the world. For the time being, the best way to do that is with photojournalism.”
What do you consider your biggest creative challenge?
“I’ve always been pushed to focus on one thing, to master one area. It’s been a big challenge just deciding which direction I want to go, and I think that it’s tough for everyone to be faced with that kind of decision at such a young age. One path kind of locks you in, so it’s a big deal. Right now, I’m leaning towards long-form video or photo projects. I want to spend a lot of time with individual stories in order to realistically capture the human element of what I’m working on.”
So, if you could work anywhere and do anything, what would it be?
“My biggest goal is to be able to fund my own projects and have them published for me, instead of being assigned X, Y or Z story. That way, I can truly feel passionate about the stories I’m telling.”
How would you describe your style?
“It’s definitely something that I want to find eventually, but it needs to be developed and occur naturally. The only way to do that is to continue working, to continue doing what I’m doing.”
Austin Galovski is a sophomore public relations major at the Newhouse School.