Professional photographer speaks with AIC’s photojournalism club


Leon Nguyen

Springfield Republican photographer Don Treeger visited with AIC’s new photography club.

Heather Brouillard, Staff Writer

Don Treeger speaks to the NPPA club.
Leon Nguyen
Don Treeger speaks to the NPPA club.

Staff Photographer for the Springfield Republican Don Treeger spoke to American International College students last month about the industry of multimedia.

“You’re not going anywhere in this business unless you can shoot video, write and shoot photographs,” he said.

Treeger came to the college to speak to AIC’s student chapter of NPPA, or the National Press Photographers Association. The newly formed club showed interest in learning photography skills from a professional.

Joe Berrouard is a sophomore at AIC and also the Vice President of NPPA.

“I know good pictures in theory,” he said. “But I could use some more practice.”

A typical day for Treeger entails driving all around western Massachusetts and photographing life in the Pioneer Valley.

In the 36 years that Treeger has worked for The Republican, he has photographed events that include fires, tornados, children, food and sports.

Some of his work has even appeared in The New York Times.

“I wake up in the morning never knowing what I will be doing that day,” he said.

The extremely outgoing professional admitted to shooting very tight photographs.

He has the natural ability to capture pure emotion of his subjects and that was apparent in his slideshow presentation of 50 of his favorite photographs over the years.

Working at different angles, Treeger likes to capture the detail. One of his most viewed images is a close up of a dog’s eye. But looking closer, there is actually a reflection of a man throwing a Frisbee.

Treeger stressed that the most important thing to a photographer is light.

“The first thing you do when you walk you walk in a room is look where the light is and pray for a window,” he said.

His professional advice to the room of about 15 students and professors was inspiring.

Candy Lash, senior public relations specialist at AIC, was also a member of the audience in the communication lab.

“Photography is not my forte so this gave me the opportunity to get advice from a professional,” she said.

Clearly a very smart man and a graduate of George Washington University, Treeger was first interested in photography in high school.

At his school there was a program in place to bring in speakers instead of substitute teachers. One of those speakers was George Kalinsky, the official photographer for Madison Square Garden in New York at the time.

Don Treeger and Mary Ellen Lowney.
Leon Nguyen
Don Treeger and Mary Ellen Lowney.

“Seeing his work pushed me into thinking I wanted to be a professional photographer,” Treeger said.

His experience with cameras began even earlier, in middle school, where a teacher would bring in Nikon and Hasselblad cameras to experiment with.

Today, Treeger relies a lot on the Nikon D800 because the resolution and low-light capabilities are “incredible.”

However, he also carries his Nikon D300 to every assignment because it has a faster frame rate which is useful for photographing sports.

Although the longtime photographer’s main role is to take pictures, the evolving world of multimedia has also forced him to work with video.

At a previous event, Treeger was holding his large Nikon camera in one hand for photos and his iPhone in his other hand for video.

“Just breathe,” Treeger told himself, trying to hold both cameras steady.

With quite a bit of luck, which Treeger argued is a large part of photography, the picture and video both came out great.

This type of skill is becoming more and more familiar to Treeger. The Republican even started asking him to write for it’s online edition, MassLive, to keep up with online content.

According to Treeger, MassLive is the future. And his inside information to the classroom of soon-to-be graduates was that the company is always hiring.

Among the challenges of adapting to the new world of journalism, Treeger is still excited to go to work every morning and his shining personality proved that.

Don Treeger and John Nordell.
Leon Nguyen
Don Treeger and John Nordell.

“It’s the best job in the world because we do everything,” he said.