Brothers on the Pitch

The Premiere

The FedEx Global Education Center welcomed over 300 attendees for the premiere of Uprooted. Photo Credit: Tenley Mae Garrett

Last night was special.

Four months of hard work culminated in a successful presentation of our project, Uprooted.

Over 300 members of our community came to campus to watch the live presentation of the short documentaries that told the stories of Venezuelan migrants in Medellín, Colombia. It was a surreal experience to see the impact the films had, and I’m grateful to have been a part of this amazing project.

The ‘Economy’ team. From left, journalist Brooklynn Cooper, visual storytellers Bryan Cereijo and Abby Cantrell, and designer Kailee Akers.

Celebrating after the premiere. Photo Credit: Alex Kormann

To the Vinotinto FC family, thank you so much for allowing us into your lives and sharing your story. The world now knows how special you all are.

Laurenti Velasquez and Alvaro Junior Cardenas of Vinotinto FC.

The Process

After filming for 10 days in Colombia, our team had a little over a month to edit the films together. We would share our radio cuts, scenes, assemblies, and rough cuts in class and give each other feedback. It was a long and tedious process, but it proved worthy.

Here’s what our final timeline looked like:

Scenes are coded by different colors, natural sounds make up the first three audio tracks, the interview audio makes up the fourth track, and the music bed is in the fifth and sixth track. Having this coordination is definitely helpful during the polishing phase.

While the video team worked on editing the short documentaries, the developers, writers, designers and photographers worked on making sure the website was coming together, the stories were polished, the interactive graphics were functioning, and the photo journey was edited.

The Final Product

And here is my team’s final video:

Most Venezuelans who have the fortune of making it to Colombia find the things that they lack in their home country: food, safety, employment and the list goes on. But sometimes, even when life’s basic necessities are fulfilled, you can still feel a void. This is the story of how an immigrant from Caracas filled his void through sport—and helped dozens of other Venezuelans fill theirs too in the process.

You can explore the rest of the project at http://uprooted.unc.edu - where you will find the four other documentaries, the written pieces, the interactive graphics, and the photojourney.

Eu Sambo Diferente

About a month ago, Brazilian artist Caique Vidal allowed me to document his busiest week of the year, as he prepared for his Carnaval show. Vidal, a native of Salvador da Bahia, is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and music educator. He stays true to his Afro-Brazilian roots by creating samba-reggae music, which is also a way of staying connected to home despite being 3,000 miles away. For the past six years, he’s been promoting Brazilian culture in the Triangle area while trying to strengthen the community.

Getting Through Finals Month

It’s finals month and that means there are a few all-nighters coming my way. It means I am going to be under an immense amount of pressure to get done. It also means that by the end of it, I’m going to be a better visual storyteller.

So, while I am stressed, I also try to stay calm and positive to make sure I continue to work while enjoying the journey.

Earlier in the semester, my Branding of Me professor, Gary Kayye, gave us a book titled Rules of the Red Rubber Ball. It starts with the following quote by James Michener:

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. 

He hardly knows which is which. 

He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. 

To him he's always doing both.”

It’s become my favorite quote because it’s about pursuing your passion and enjoying what you’re doing while always striving for excellence. 

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing news and work from this semester. 

Thank you all for following along and supporting.

Sunset as seen from the back of my truck during last weekend’s trail ride in Mebane, NC. I am currently working on a video/photo story with a cowboy club in North Carolina.

Sunset as seen from the back of my truck during last weekend’s trail ride in Mebane, NC. I am currently working on a video/photo story with a cowboy club in North Carolina.

Opening Day in Syracuse

It’s Opening Day for the Syracuse Mets - previously the Syracuse Chiefs - and on this #ThrowbackThursday, I want to share a photo story on Rafael Bautista that I photographed two years ago, as well as some of my favorite images from the 2017 season.

During my junior year at Syracuse University, I knew I wanted to work on a baseball story, but in Syracuse, we don’t have a Major League Baseball club. I started brainstorming story ideas and thought it would be interesting to document one of the players who was projected to be called up during the season.

I did some research before Opening Day and found that Dominican centerfielder Rafael Bautista was one of the top prospects expected to play in the big leagues during the season.

I reached out to the Syracuse Chiefs and they were very accommodating in allowing me to talk to Rafael and giving me a season pass to photograph as many games as I possibly could.

Rafael was awesome and he had a great season with the Chiefs. One day, he called me and lets me know that he was about to go to the mall to buy a suit in case he got the call. I picked up my camera to document the moment. Seven days later, he makes his debut for the Washington Nationals.

Starting this year, the Syracuse Chiefs are the Syracuse Mets - the Triple-A affiliate to the New York Mets. The Triple-A team for the Nationals is now the Fresno Grizzlies, where Rafael hopes to play after he recovers from a season ending injury that he sustained last year.

My time photographing Rafael and the Chiefs is one of my fondest memories of my time in Syracuse. The organization is all class, and I am so appreciative of the opportunity they gave me. 

Most importantly, I will always be grateful because they helped me surprise my dad with the throwing of the first pitch during one of the games. It was a special day.

Cereijo_DadFirstPitch_08.jpg

Thinking Like a Visual Storyteller: Seeing Light

IMG_7241.jpg

Back in October at the Eddie Adams Workshop, Visual Journalist Tom Kennedy gave a presentation in which he said, “photography is writing with light.” Though I knew light was the most important element in photography - because without light, there is no photo - I had never thought about it so poetically.

In the last year, I’ve been documenting light any time it catches my attention. This has made me appreciate it much more while also learning new and interesting ways in which it interacts with objects and people. 

To do this, I’ve been using one of my favorite Instagram features - Stories - where I am able to quickly share snapshots of light when I see them. Doing this over a period of time has helped me build a mental archive, allowing me to control light in my professional work.

I was recently talking to a professor who told me that what he appreciates most about photography is that it taught him how to see light, and in-turn appreciate the world in a different way.

Even if you’re not a visual storyteller, I would challenge you to start paying close attention to light everywhere. The intensity, the color, the shape it creates, how it interacts with the world. There is gratification in understanding this small part of life.

Here is my current light journal, which you can also find on my Instagram page:

The Return of My Favorite Sport

It’s Opening Day Weekend and I’m excited for the return of baseball. To commemorate, here is an ongoing portrait series that I started during the 2017 season:

During my internship at the Miami Herald, I photographed several Miami Marlins games. It was a lot of fun but also very repetitive, so I was constantly thinking of frames I could make throughout the season so that by the end, I could put together some sort of photo essay.

Earlier that year, I had worked on a story with Syracuse Chiefs (now the Syracuse Mets) Outfielder Rafael Bautista - The Major League Dream - where I had taken a portrait that I really liked. I thought about emulating it with visiting players - because access to Marlins players after practice was nearly impossible - and creating a series of portraits of players before the games.

Players were usually open to the idea once I explained it would take just a minute. It was fun, stress-free, and an awesome experience because I got to interact with some of my favorite favorite players. 

I was able to take about one portrait per game and finished the season with seven portraits. I’m looking forward to continuing this project every time I photograph a game!

Ten Days in Colombia

The past couple of weeks have been busy. There’s been filming, working on midterms, more filming, getting ready for Colombia, more filming, traveling to Colombia, more filming, and now I am finally back in the States. 

It’s taken me a couple of days to regroup - and I’m still working on it - but I’ve finally have been able to gather myself enough to sit down and write a bit about my experience.

Traveling to Medellín, Colombia with the Uprooted UNC group was an amazing experience. I’m grateful for this opportunity because it was inspiring and meaningful: we traveled, met awesome people, and documented important stories.

There were a lot of moments of reflection during the trip in which I just thought about how incredible it was that I was in another country, doing what I most care about, and working with my peers to shed light on the struggles that Venezuelans face when they are forced to flee their country.

Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite moments and images from the trip as my peers and I start putting the entire project together for an April 23rd premiere date.

The view from Medellín’s recently inaugurated ‘ Metrocable .’ The Miraflores station became the fifth gondola lift station in the city, making Medellín one of the cities with the best sustainable public transportation in the country.

The view from Medellín’s recently inaugurated ‘Metrocable.’ The Miraflores station became the fifth gondola lift station in the city, making Medellín one of the cities with the best sustainable public transportation in the country.

Docs in the Dome: Tales of the American South

Last semester, Nathan Klima and I produced two short docs in the span of four months on the American South. 

For our local story, we traveled to the nearby town of Siler City. The population of Siler City, North Carolina has increased by 20% since 2000. Along with the population growth, there’s been a demographic shift in which Hispanic residents now make up roughly 50% of the town. Fourteen years ago, Jose Juan started an independent soccer league, La Liga Sabatina de Siler City, which he organizes to this day. Soccer is now what unites this town in the American South.

For the second film, we traveled to East Atlanta, which has become one of the most significant regions for contemporary hip-hop music in the United States. We filmed rap duo Osei & Armani, from Bouldercrest Road, home to some of the most popular rappers to come out of Atlanta. In the short film, Osei & Armani reflect on the what it takes to be successful in the most popular music genre today.

Both films will be screened at Morehead Planetarium today at 6pm along with eight other films produced by our peers. At the end of the showing, we will host a Q&A where we will answer questions about the stories and production.

Hope to see you all there!

Also, go ‘Cuse!

LaLiga_SilerCity_TitleCard.jpg

Portrait Preparedness

In January, I started working for Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As a production assistant, I’m responsible for filming and editing promotional videos and assisting the creative department with research and editing for planetarium shows. But perhaps the coolest perk is being able to photograph some of the awesome people who come to visit.

On Friday, Astronaut Charlie Duke came to talk about the various Apollo missions he participated in, including the one that took him to the moon. General Duke is one of only 12 people to have walked on the moon and was the Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for Apollo 11, the first moon landing. It was incredible to hear him talk about some of his experiences in person.

Because he was on a tight schedule, I did not have a lot of time to make a portrait. I thought about what I wanted it to look like and arrived early to set up. I knew it had to be simple because of the time constraints so I took my reliable and efficient Yongnuo YN360 light and had Sam - a gentleman who was working the event - help me out and stand in so I could have an idea of what my exposure would be. 

Cereijo_CharlieDukePost_01.jpg

Hurry up and wait.

About 10 minutes later, General Duke walked in and I quickly introduced myself, directed him to the spot where I wanted him to stand, and fired off six frames in 10 seconds.

Cereijo_CharlieDuke_01.jpg
Cereijo_CharlieDuke_04.jpg

Mission Accomplished.

Professor Greg Heisler at Syracuse University always stressed the importance of working with intention, having an idea, and then being prepared. Though this was a simple setup and thankfully everything went seamlessly, this shows the importance of all these tips - especially in larger, complicated shoots.

Year Twenty-Two

I was talking to one of my mentors this past week about my recent struggles. He listened. Then he reminded me of what we do as storytellers - we seek to document and share stories. But what makes a good story?

In its most basic form, a good story includes a person who has a goal and overcomes struggle to achieve that goal. During the journey, there is change that comes from overcoming said struggle.

As Donald Miller says, “somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we actually live in.

Though we strive for a perfect life, not only is that something that is unachievable, but it’s also something that would cause us to plateau, to stop growing.

Year 22 was probably the most challenging year thus far. I experienced the highest of highs in graduating from Syracuse University and returning home for a bit to spend time with my family.

Cereijo_Graduation.JPG

I also experienced real lows in moving to another state by myself, trying to acclimate to a new space, starting all over, and dealing with the physical and mental effects that this stress caused.

Through this, Year 22 taught me the importance of allowing myself to seek help when I realize that I cannot do everything all by myself. I’m so thankful for my supportive family and all that they’ve done and continue to do to ensure I continue on my path. It taught me struggle and it has been slowly showing me the growth that stems from it.

Year 22 made me realize the importance of truly understanding my passion. This has allowed me to expand the amount of things I can do with it - learning to use different mediums, mentoring, and further enjoying what I do.

Year 22 reaffirmed the golden rule. The rule that tells us to treat others as we would wish to be treated. The rule that my mom has told me to live by since I can remember. When others don’t abide by it, remind them of the rule. I’ve come to understand that not everyone is going to like me, but they have to respect me.

Year 22 reinforced the idea that it truly takes a village to achieve success. I’m so grateful for everyone that has supported me in my endeavors during the past year.

Year 22 taught me that I define what success is for me. Everyone’s path is different. Coming to terms with this has helped me stay focused on the path I’m blazing. I know that if I constantly work hard, results will surely follow.

Year 22 showed me that I can set goals and then follow through by doing everything in my power to meet my own expectations. This year, I competed for one of two TEDxUNC student spots, and though I ultimately wasn’t selected, I finally put together a presentation that I was proud of and that I feel can inspire others. I’ll just think of it as practice for next year.

Year 22 helped me realize it is important to live in the present, in the moment. Trying to take it all in because life moves so fast. Acknowledging small victories is important.

Year 22 highlighted the importance of friendship – especially when one is going through challenging times.

I appreciate you, Jackie, for always being just one phone call away. For always listening. And for always giving me the best possible advice. See you soon.

I appreciate you, Manny, for being the best brother I never had. I know that you’re always there for whatever I need and that means a lot. I also want to thank you and Geo for taking time out of your day and meeting up to celebrate my birthday.

Cereijo_Friends.jpeg

Year 22 confirmed my love for mentorship. Over the past couple of months, I’ve used several opportunities to talk to students about the importance of what we do and share all that I’ve learned about visual storytelling.

Facilitating a class in video journalism at  Randolph Community College . Thank you to Khadejeh Nikouyeh and Jay Capers for the opportunity.

Facilitating a class in video journalism at Randolph Community College. Thank you to Khadejeh Nikouyeh and Jay Capers for the opportunity.

Year 22 taught me the importance of understanding emotions, learning how to control them, and working toward growing my emotional intelligence. Because “intelligence can come to nothing if emotions hold sway.”

Year 22 proved to me that Year 23 will be what I make of it.

Thinking Like a Visual Storyteller: Connecting

Yesterday I shared a story that I worked on with the Southern Durham Football team. It was an in-depth look into their season. For four months, the team allowed me to be present at every moment. They trusted me - for which I will forever be grateful.

Southern Spartans head coach Darius Robinson celebrates with his players after winning the last game of the season against Millbrook High School, 21-14. On the first day that I met Head Coach Robinson, he took me to the team locker room and introduced me to his players: “this is Bryan, he will be photographing our season. He is now part of the family.”

Southern Spartans head coach Darius Robinson celebrates with his players after winning the last game of the season against Millbrook High School, 21-14. On the first day that I met Head Coach Robinson, he took me to the team locker room and introduced me to his players: “this is Bryan, he will be photographing our season. He is now part of the family.”

How did this come about? As visual storytellers, how do we make this connection, gain this trust, and tell the story to the best of our abilities?

Though it varies by story, the one common factor is being human.

Let me explain.

My favorite quote throughout my time as a photojournalism student at Syracuse University says:

“We tell stories of people - not ‘subjects.’ Honor their humanity. Our language sets the tone.”

I think it’s very important to always keep this in mind because this is the level at which we connect with those whom we are fortunate to photograph. It is not a photographer-subject relationship but a human one. We gain trust by being genuine, listening, being present, and by truly caring about the story.

Telling these stories is a collaborative process. Explaining this is a good way of building these relationships. Don’t take control of a story that isn’t yours. You’re simply helping share this narrative with your storytelling ability. Ask the people you are photographing “what do you think your story is?” and be prepared for the answer. Chances are it might not be what you thought it was - it’s much more meaningful.

Be respectful and feel situations out. Go with your gut instinct. Sometimes the best move is to put your camera down and be present. This is still hard one for me too, because I don’t want to miss a frame. But when the situation calls for you to be present and you are, this goes along way in the trust you are building. Being present and asking questions is good way of making images - even though you are not pressing the shutter button - because you will be constantly learning about the person and the different layers to their story.

Once the story is complete, maintain that relationship. Whether that’s through social media, mail, text messages, etc. These are human beings that entrusted you, allowed you into their lives, and shared with you. Don’t take this for granted. Honor those relationships.

Even if you’re not a visual storyteller, I would challenge you to start thinking about the relationships you create and how you honor them. As I mentioned earlier in this post, we connect not as subjects-photographers but as humans. Meet new people, ask questions, listen, and most importantly, be genuine and care.

Care.

Listen.

Be Genuine.

Be Present.

Be Respectful.

Honor the Relationship.

The Opportunity

In August 2018, the Southern Durham Spartans welcomed me to photograph their brotherhood. I documented their season: from the joyful moments to the lowest points where they had to regroup and be ready for the next challenge. During my time with this team, these young men taught me about resiliency. They were always up for the challenge, they never gave up on each other, and they always found a way to bounce back when games didn’t go their way.

Though the season didn’t end how they would’ve liked, they made sure to take advantage of all of the opportunities being part of this team offered.

Thank you to all the players and coaches for allowing me to be a part of the journey.

No Te Rindas

Last week in my documentary video storytelling class, we were assigned an “interpretation” assignment in which we could choose any poem and put together a narrative to represent it.

I wanted to make the assignment meaningful. I had never made an interpretation piece where I had to think about every shot in the video beforehand and the meaning it would contribute.

This project became significantly more special when my mom - who was visiting - agreed to be a part of it, reading one of the poems that she constantly reminds me of when I’m too stressed and not feeling too well.

No Te Rindas translates to “Don’t Give Up,” and it’s a poem by Mario Benedetti that reminds us to keep pushing forward, to keep going despite the many hardships we may face. Why?

“Because every day is a new beginning,

Because this is the hour and the best moment.

Because you are not alone, because I love you.”

My mom and I filmed for three days and edited it all together on the last day. It was awesome to give her insight as to what I did - from the filming, to the editing, to the countless hours spent looking for royalty free music that would perfectly fit the video. It was like ‘Bring Your Parents to Work’ weekend (which actually exists).

We were both happy with the end result, but more importantly, with the time we spent together creating something meaningful for the both of us.

When she got on the plane, she sent me a text that read “thank you for allowing me to be a part of your projects. I really enjoyed it. I love you.” Love you too, mamá. This is a video and an experience that we will both forever cherish.

Life in Flux

Two weekends ago, I was fortunate to attend the Eddie Adams Workshop and it was an incredible experience. From the speakers to the edit sessions to the portfolio reviews to the important conversations, I learned something every step of the way. I am also extremely fortunate to have been part of Team Tie Dye. Producer Eric Thayer found us all great stories, Angus Oborn was the best tech and provided lots of comic relief, and Editor Tim Rasmussen and team leader Preston Gannoway put our work together beautifully and helped us grow as visual storytellers. Huge shoutout to my peers on team Tie Dye who are all awesome human beings and were extremely supportive throughout the entire weekend!

Our team’s theme was ‘life in flux’ and we were instructed to photograph our stories with this idea in mind. Flux can be defined as continuous change, passage, or movement. Recently, my life has been in a state of ‘hyperflux’ and though it has been challenging, it has also been very rewarding. I continue to look for that continuous change because in that, there is a story, a journey, and growth.

I also enjoy slowing down and taking it all in: living in the moment and enjoying the present. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been fortunate to meet some awesome people that have allowed me to document their story. Here’s what I’ve been working on during the months of September and October:


Mid-South Fencers’ Club in Durham, NC

Fencing Coach Jennifer Oldham established the Mid-South Fencer’s Club in Durham, NC in 2007 with the idea of building a community out of a traditionally individual sport. She’s one of five coaches in North Carolina to achieve the ‘Maitre d’Armes’ (Master of Weapons) title. Her dedication to the sport and her students has helped the club rise to one of the best fencing clubs in the nation.


Before/After - Hurricane Florence

Before and After — A couple of days before Hurricane Florence made landfall, I was able to photograph the Haw River near Chapel Hill. After the hurricane passed, I went back to see the effects of the hurricane on the massive river that runs 110 miles through North Carolina. Several locals who usually use the river to fish and kayak commented that it's the fastest they had ever seen the river moving. They were also astonished at how much the water level rose but thankful that there was no major flooding.


COPA

Cuban chef Roberto Copa Matos at his farm in Hillsborough, NC.

Cuban chef Roberto Copa Matos at his farm in Hillsborough, NC.

Being Cuban-American, I always try to find the Cuban community wherever it is that I am at. After some searching, I found out about Cuban chef and farmer Roberto Copa Matos.

Roberto studied biochemistry at the University of Havana but emigrated from the island in 2002. His concept is simple: from soil-to-table. He owns the nation's only soil-to-table Cuban restaurant and he takes a lot of pride in that. 'It's about cultivating relationships from soil to table. From the moment we harvest our food to the moment where we serve the guest, we are building relationships along the way," says Matos. His goal is to grow the farm to the point where almost all of the food products he uses at his restaurant come from his farm.


Life in Flux Through Different Levels of Football

Interpreting ‘life in flux’ through different levels of football in Liberty, NY. This was completed during the Eddie Adams Workshop.

And portraits from last week’s high school football game in Liberty, NY:

Year Five

This semester, I started the visual communications master's program at UNC-Chapel Hill. It's been a busy couple of weeks that included moving from Miami, setting up my new place, and getting to know the area... And what better way to get to know the area than by picking up a camera, going to events, talking to people and photographing? Here are some of my favorite frames from the past two weeks:

Hux Family Farm

After a week of getting settled in and preparing for this upcoming semester, I was able to got outside and explore a bit. After some research, I found out about @HuxFamilyFarm and their horsemanship clinics that are meant to help participants relax, have fun, and learn new skills. It was awesome to be at this event and learn more about these amazing animals while also being able to photograph them. Huge shoutout to horses Dapple and Gryffindor as well as Hux Family Farm for allowing me into this space.


The Toppling of Silent Sam

It was an interesting ending to my first day at UNC. Students took matters into their own hands after years of trying to remove the Silent Sam confederate statue from their campus. The controversial statue was toppled over this afternoon by a group of about 250 protesters. Police were quick to cordon-off the statue and cover it while they awaited for removal workers to arrive. The workers spent about an hour trying to figure out how they were going to load it onto the truck. Once they were able to load, they packed up Silent Sam and drove off. It was interesting to see the various reactions throughout the night as well as the various students that stayed up until 1:30AM to witness that night's events.


Race Day with Classic Gear Jammers' Jeff Smith

"If you start messing with cars, you'll probably end up racing," said Jeff Smith as he started dialing his car for the first race of the day. Smith, a 71-year-old retired mechanic, has been drag racing with Classic Gear Jammers since 1993 and he still has a need for speed. This past June, he beat out 105 cars to win the 2018 Clemmons Concrete Stick Shift Nationals and $5,000. He races with a 1963 Corvette that he found at a junk yard. It was in such bad shape, that he got it for free. He spent about a year working on it, including building the motor from scratch, and has been racing with it for the past three years... Thank you to Classic Gear Jammers, JR Dunbar, and Jeff Smith for letting me hang out yesterday. It was a great time!


Southern Durham Football

I'm grateful to have been welcomed to the Southern Durham football team! I'll be documenting their season for the next few months. Stay tuned...

Cereijo_SouthernSpartains_5.jpg

Visiting the Nation's Capital

This weekend, I traveled to Washington, DC, for College Photographer of the Year (CPOY)/Photos of the Year (POY) Weekend. It was a great time where I caught up with old friends, made new ones, and got to explore a little of DC. Here are some frames I took while walking around:

"Spring Break" 2018

This spring break did not have much "spring" or "break" in it but it was definitely a productive one. I traveled to North Carolina to find an apartment with the help of my mom (and had it not been for her, I would still not have a place for next year) and spent the rest of the time in Syracuse cheering on the Orange as they advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament (woot, woot).

I also spent the week testing out the FujiFilm X-Pro2. I wasn't sure of how I was going to like it considering I am a Nikon and Sony user but it's an awesome camera. Here are some quick thoughts followed by the photos I made with it this past week:

  • First, I really enjoyed using the various color profiles that are built in. I also appreciated the fact that you can see what the frame you are composing looks like with said profile through the viewfinder - something you can't do with a DSLR.
  • The build quality is great! It is a weather-sealed body and I was using it with the weather-sealed 23mm lens (35mm equivalent because it is a crop sensor camera) so I wasn't hesitating when taking it out in the heavy snow or light rain.
  • Most importantly, it made me want to just photograph. In my opinion, it's an ergonomic camera and made me want to take it everywhere. It was a lot of fun using it.