Nine years after he graduated from Geneseo and left his position as photo editor at The Lamron, Benjamin Gajewski’s heart is still heavily invested in photography, the Geneseo community and nature conservation. His passions and talents have been able to flourish in his current position as executive director of the Genesee Valley Conservancy.
Gajewski explained that he always held a deep appreciation for the outdoors growing up and carried this love into college. When he was a student, a professor suggested that he get an internship. He was referred to the GVC and has been happily working there ever since. Now the executive director, Gajewski expressed his hopes to continue the mission of the organization—to protect the habit, open space and farm land of the Genesee Valley—using his skill and passion for photography.
Unlike his love of nature, Gajewski’s love of photography wasn’t realized until his freshman year at Geneseo. “I really got into [photography after being] away from home,” he said. “I had a lot of time to find new hobbies … it was a fun thing to do on the weekends and a way to explore campus and the community. Then I started to work for [The Lamron] shortly after and I just really enjoyed it ever since.”
Working at The Lamron allowed Gajewski to explore his creative side and come up with new ideas for the publication; his favorite memory as photo editor is starting a photo page. “It was an entire page that was just photos, which was great for me because usually you would get to shoot one photo per article,” he said. “It was kind of fun to show other aspects of campus life.”
In addition to developing his own craft, Gajewski noted that he found helping to cultivate the talents and interests of other young photographers very rewarding. “[I started] working with new photographers and being able to kind of teach the tricks of the trade and how to shoot different things: shooting dances versus shooting sports, lighting and types of shooting,” he said. “I liked being able to pass along to people that are new and interested in learning.”
Gajewski was able to transfer what he learned from working at The Lamron in photography to both life and work. “To do photography, there’s a lot of planning involved. You have to think about what time of day you are going, what time of year, the angle you want to do,” he said. “There’s a lot more to it than just snapping a picture. It helps a lot in project planning, work and personal goals—you know what the end result will be.”
One of his proudest accomplishments at his job at the Conservancy is the incorporation of more visual aspect in the organization’s marketing and informational techniques. “Going through photos really captures the importance of our work and the impact that we are having. Being able to tell a story through a photo is a lot easier than trying to get someone to read a two-page essay,” he said. “We are protecting scenic landscape, so what better way than to show it off in photos.”
When Gajewski isn’t working at the conservancy, he does freelance photography at North Street Studios. “Every chance I get to pull out my camera I take advantage of.”
Although he loves taking photos, life and work often get in the way. Gajewski sees North Street Studios as a hobby and hopes that he can put more time into it in retirement.
Gajewski offered advice for current students. “Everyone should have something they are passionate about,” he said. “It’s important to make time for yourself, your hobbies and other things that make you happy.”