November 2nd, 1989, a week before the Berlin Wall fell. I was born in a New York delivery room, two weeks past my due date. The obstetrician warned my parents that, “nobody [would] ever push this child around,” and if, by that, he meant I’d be strong, determined, and audacious, I’d say he was rather spot on. But what he might not have realized in that moment, as I screamed and kicked against him, was just how well I would absorb the world around me, even from a very young age.
Part of what makes an interesting photograph is the person behind the lens, which is why I start off by sharing a little bit about my life. I grew up in the concrete jungle of Manhattan; my mom a computer consultant from the Bronx, my dad a political fundraiser from Queens. Together, we lived in an orange-brick, Jenga-like building, where the terraces alternated by floor and I could see the city and sky all around us.
I imagined the world in still frames long before I ever owned a camera. I would spend hours in my room, morphing printer paper into space shuttles, refashioning old clothes into new ones, and creating magazine collages to match with music. I’d remodel my room, moving the furniture and painting the walls, all before my parents got home from work and styled my brother’s hair with vaseline and Playdough on multiple occasions. Each time I ventured to create, I had a picture in my head of the end product but I was also open to where the process would take me along the way.
I received my first camera from my dad when I was 10 years old. It was his old Nikon film camera, but to me it was full of new opportunities. I’d rearrange the fruit bowls in our kitchen, pose the dogs from different angles, but it was the unexpected that really caught my attention.
For years, I feared what could not be controlled, not so much in a clinical obsessive way, but in a way that made me want to better understand what I did and did not have the power to change. This anxiety was inevitably heightened by the inherent nature of New York. For a child so attune to details, the idea that my home was always changing sometimes seemed a little daunting.
Yet the camera gave me the ability to freeze life; to capture the world and process it at my own speed. It was my outlet for expression, creation, and a lens through which to better understand reality. Not much has changed since I first snapped the shutter.
Born and raised in New York City, Robyn is a photographer, videographer, and journalist. She is a creative thinker with a strategic streak, currently working as the Vice President of Strategy and Analytics for NBCUniversal. Prior to this, she was the Director of Corporate Strategy and Development for the Associated Press where she had the opportunity to contribute her photographs to the organization’s renowned wire and before this led transformation efforts for the President’s Office at the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones. She has studied at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s certificate program in Computer Science and Journalism, New York Film Academy, International Center for Photography, Maine Media Workshops, and Girl Develop It. In 2015, she was a finalist in National Geographic’s Street Photography contest and her work has been included in the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan’s exhibition “ImagiNation: Young Photographers Engage the World” and the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts at Brandeis University, where she completed her undergraduate studies in May 2013.
In college, Robyn studied American Studies, Business, and Journalism, and wrote a 130-page senior thesis on the grounds for exporting America’s free press standard abroad, inspired by her experience as a 2012 Sorensen Fellow at the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. As a fellow, she received a grant to examine media ethics in post-genocide Rwanda, while also working as a news and photography intern for the largest daily newspaper in the country. Her reflections on the fellowship were published by the Ethics Center in 2012 and can be read here: “Tracing Roots: Uncovering Realities Beneath the Surface.”
Prior to college, Robyn participated in the gap-year program Kivunim: New Directions which allowed her to travel to ten different countries around the world while studying Hebrew, Arabic, and Middle East politics. Her reflections and photographs from the year can be found at robynmeetsworld.wordpress.com.
Robyn has over eight years of journalism experience. She served as an editor of her high school newspaper, the Heschel Helios, and college newspaper, the Justice. At the Justice, she wore multiple hats. She was co-photography editor, associate editor, and deputy editor while also chairing the newspaper’s first two-day alumni reunion and media conference. She established video production for the newspaper, reformatted the Arts section, and grew the photography section from five active participants to twenty. Robyn served as student liaison to the faculty of the Brandeis Journalism Program for two years as well as to the Dean of Arts and Sciences’ Experiential Learning Committee. She designed an after-school journalism program at a local Massachusetts elementary school that allowed students grades 2-6 to produce their own newspapers and she, herself, freelanced for many institutions on campus including Office of the Arts, Office of Admissions, Brandeis Genesis Institute, and Hiatt Career Center.
Robyn’s work has appeared in various mainstream publications including amNewYork, Newsday, the Boston Globe, Jewish Week, the New Times, Haaretz. She also does multimedia consulting for a wide variety of corporate, non-profit, and private clients. She is in the process of writing her very own children’s book series about her rescue dog Katie Mae (www.katiemaeadventures.com). On top of her freelance positions, Robyn has worked at Cablevision Systems Corporation where she started in Sales Operations and moved into the Product Development and Management division to be able to apply the computer science skills she learned at Columbia with her creative skill base.
If you are interested in hearing more about what Robyn is up to or have projects or opportunities that you would like her to get involved with please feel free to reach out to her using the form below.