Four years after Stephen Masker chose photojournalism as a career, he stood in a joint session of Congress, shooting pictures of some of the nation’s top lawmakers last summer.
Some of the photos he captured during the session included then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Joe Biden and even Mexican president Felipe Calderon who was talking to officials about Arizona’s immigration law.
“It was an incredible feeling,” Masker said about photographing the session. “...I never thought I’d be there getting that opportunity to do that.”
As a senior majoring in journalism and political science, Masker received the chance to shoot the session by shadowing Chip Somodevilla, a photographer for Getty Images. Somodevilla (’95, B.A.) met Masker in Spring 2010 when he visited his photography class taught by Mayborn faculty member Susan Zavoina. Somodevilla told the students to contact him if they were interested in shadowing him on Capitol Hill.
Masker took him up on that offer, and spent three weeks as a photographer alongside Somodevilla in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Now Masker, who graduated in May 2011, hopes to work as a photojournalist in Washington D.C. for one of the major wire services.
“I like that it’s unpredictable,” he says of Capitol Hill. “As a photojournalist, you’re always where the action is at. And there is always a lot of action in Washington.”
Masker credits the Mayborn faculty for cultivating his skills.
“Here at UNT, I’m fortunate to have really great professors,” he said. “They pay special attention in teaching you how to be an effective journalist.”
One such faculty member, Thorne Anderson, has greatly influenced Masker. He said Anderson has pushed him, encouraged him to enter contests, and taught him new techniques.
“I think I’ve learned the most about being a journalist from him,” he said.
Masker started off as a Radio, Television and Film major, but switched to journalism earning duel degrees in both photojournalism and political science.
“I’m really proud to be a photojournalism major at this university because I feel like I received a well-rounded education from my professors,” he said. “I just think Denton is a very, very beautiful place. It’s a politically active community. And I’m really glad I ended up here.”
Since graduating from UNT, Masker has completed internships at the Tyler Morning Telegraph, National Geographic and Getty Images.
Masker is currently based in Dallas freelancing for several publications. He frequently gets published in the Dallas Observer and covers general news, political and concert photography. He is the recipient of the Barbara Colegrove Scholarship. He is the past president of the UNT chapter of the National Press Photographers Association. He is also a former member of the UNT Photography Club.
View Masker’s portfolio at StephenMasker.com.