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Kara Gildea

Rochester Institute of Technology


When I was a child, instead of waking up early to watch cartoons, I would sneak downstairs to watch whatever documentary was playing on the Discovery Channel. From stories about the hidden lives of religious groups to the inner workings of prisons, I found the documentaries riveting. When I look back, I think what I loved the most was learning about all the different people, the ‘how and why’ they ended up in these situations. This is when I first became interested in storytelling.

In high school, with limited access to arts programs, I helped create a school media team to teach new skills and foster collaboration. We produced an award-winning documentary about the positive impact of refugees on a depressed city in upstate NY, which inspired me to pursue a photojournalism degree at RIT. I discovered that my investigative and observational skills found their niche in combining photography and journalism. This allowed me to fulfill my creative side while also serving my community.

Working in Rochester on long-term stories has deepened my passion for revisiting people over time. My favorite photo story documented a man with Cerebral Palsy and his aide, illuminating their profound friendship. RIT has also introduced me to the realm of photo editing, a field I immediately fell in love with. Contributing in this way to impactful photographic stories is truly magical, and I’m eager to explore it further.


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