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Claire Callagy (C'10)
A recent graduate begins her career in photography.
Claire Callagy (C’10) always knew she wanted to be an English major. During her studies at Georgetown, however, she also uncovered a passion that would become her second major, her hobby, and will soon be her career: photography.
Callagy’s enthusiasm for photography grew out of another passion—travel. Originally from Darien, Connecticut, she chose Georgetown because her two older siblings are alumni and had loved it. But she made the experience her own by taking advantage of Georgetown’s volunteer opportunities and exploring the places they took her.
She spent her first spring break working in post-Katrina New Orleans, and twice assisted the Georgetown chapter of Students Helping Honduras with rebuilding a storm-devastated village. But it was during the summer after her freshman year, while volunteering in Ghana, that Callagy first picked up a camera to document her journey. After that formative experience in Africa, the camera has been her constant companion.. “Traveling is one of my passions,” Callagy explains. “And photography has been the way I have been able to tell my stories from my travels to everyone back home.”
For a relative newcomer to the field, she has explored an impressive range of genres. Callagy initially found photographs to be the best way to share the stories of the people she met on her journeys, and her pictures have been used to do just that at fundraisers and on the website for Students Helping Honduras.
It was in a graduate journalism class investigating the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl that she got her first taste of the excitement and challenge of photojournalism. Callagy gathered photographs from news outlets and people who had been on the ground at the time of the murder for a report and website examining Pearl’s murder.
Last summer Callagy discovered the appeal of fine art, while working for master photographer Joel Meyerowitz on an innovative documentation of the parks of New York City. “What [Meyerowitz] inspired me to look for is to find beauty in things that otherwise wouldn’t get a second glance,” says Callagy. She has also practiced staging shoots in jobs ranging from photographing products for an e-commerce company to photographing people and events for the Georgetown College Dean’s Office. And while studying abroad in Chile, a hub of extreme sports, she was exposed to action photography. Callagy has found every genre as thrilling as the next.
“I just really love the ability—whether it is fine art or commercial work—that a photograph has to interpret or affect reality,” Callagy says. “I always want to be taking pictures.”
As one of just a few students pursuing a concentration in photography at Georgetown, Callagy admits that the university is not the typical school for a person studying her craft. However, she appreciates Georgetown’s liberal arts curriculum and would not have traded it for an arts-focused education. Over her four years in the College, she has been able to master the founding elements of photography from the studio art department while at the same time polishing her communications skills by enrolling in writing and literature classes offered by the English department.
Upon graduating, Callagy is going to forge ahead with photography. She plans to work as a professional photographer of portraits and small events. At the same, she hopes to continue polishing her skills as a travel photographer by capturing evocative photos of each country she visits.
Despite having captured so much of her Georgetown experience on film, Callagy is not nostalgic about graduating. “I’m just excited now because I am ready to go out into the world and be on my own and use what I’ve learned here in the real world,” says Callagy. “I am really excited.”
You can see Claire’s photos for yourself by visiting her website at www.clairecallagy.com​.
-Kara Burritt
Photo: Claire poses with author Dave Eggers at a recent college event. Photo courtesy of Claire Callagy.
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