Tailyr Irvine is a 2018 J-School alumnus who is currently working as a freelance journalist and photographer. Her work has recently been featured in New York Times and National Geographic and you can view her piece, “Reservation Mathematics: Navigating Love in Native America,” on the Smithsonian’s website and in American Indian Magazine.
After graduation, Irvine spent a year in Florida interning at the Tampa Bay Times before making the transition to freelance work. We spoke with Tailyr about what life is like as a freelancer and how the J-School helped to prepare her for life after college.
How does freelancing differ from working in a newsroom?
Freelancing is much more isolated. There is no newsroom and no cubicles to pop into if you need a quick second opinion. Going from a really fun team to working alone was difficult. You have to self-edit and work with reporters you don’t get to meet and editors that are across the country. It is also so much more work, you have to do a lot of planning ahead but also be available all the time. It’s an interesting balancing act. I struggle to carve out time for myself because I feel like I am always on and reachable. But I think it’s worth it because I get to do stories I really want to work on and there is a freelance network that is very helpful in regards to the isolation.
What do you hope to convey to your viewers and readers?
I think through my work I just hope to show the audience pieces of life that they may not see. I think what I hope is my work takes the audience and … connects them with different humans that they might not connect with before and they can see ways that they are different but also see ways that they are similar to each other. And I think if we can get people to connect on that level, I think that changes the world actually.
What was the biggest take away from your time at the J-School that helped to prepare you for life after school?
You get out how much you put into a project. You are balancing a bunch of work at the J-School and that is pretty similar to how it is in real life. You don’t get time to just work on one thing, you are constantly balancing things. I remember feeling like the workload from each professor was impossible but it was actually reality. Time management is really valuable in this career and if you can’t balance multiple projects at the same time then you might want to rethink journalism.
As a photographer, what would you say to other aspiring photojournalists at the J-School now?
You get of this career what you put into it and I wouldn’t be afraid to follow stories that are personal. I think we have this idea in this industry that we have to be robots and be equally unbiased but I think it is the opposite. We have to recognize our biases and tell stories that are close to us because I just think those are better stories. Those are the stories that I want to read.