Noah Addis ’97 graduated during a time when newspapers employed multiple staff photojournalists, and for 11 years he practiced his craft at the respected The Star-Ledger in Newark, racking up three New Jersey Press Photographer of the Year awards and a Pulitzer Prize for his work on a team project.
But as the newspaper industry shrank, he took a buyout in 2008 and embarked on a career of independent documentary projects. His transition was made easier because his photography professors always pushed him to do work outside of his comfort zone, he says. “At the time, I didn't appreciate how important this was, but my time at Drexel taught me to grow and adapt even years after graduation,” he says.
He was part of a group commissioned by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in collaboration with fellow photographer Brian Cohen to photograph the effects of the Marcellus Shale gas industry — work which became a travelling exhibition.
Now living in Columbus, Ohio, he’s building a collection of photos supported by artist grants that document the effects of urban migration around the world, called Future Cities. The idea for the project first came to him when he was in Lagos, Nigeria, for an assignment for The Star-Ledger. Traveling from the airport, he was moved by the sight of the city’s immense slums, which made him think about the social and economic processes that form such communities. Last summer, he travelled to Lima, Peru, for a month-long independent project that included work on Future Cities. When finished, he intends to publish a book of the photographs.
“Photographic technology has changed tremendously since I graduated, but the faculty emphasized that photography is all about ideas,” he says. “They encouraged the importance of developing a personal photographic vision. Those skills are still as relevant as ever.”