On a typical Tuesday, some of her peers are scribbling notes in a cramped classroom in Weimer Hall. But you’re more likely find Alex Sanchez with her Nikon D600 in hand at Café Risque doing a photo story on a stripper named “Trouble.”
She may have been doing an assignment for her Advanced Photojournalism class, but Sanchez’s efforts are focused more on the subject than the grade. Behind the lens, she said, there is more than meets the eye, and she wants viewers to see the uncovered elements through her work.
“It’s much more than a pretty picture,” she said. “She’s not a stripper. She’s a person.”
The 21-year-old photojournalism student said her assignments have included other “random” sources and situations, such as covering trapeze, hanging out with firefighters, and visiting the Miami Seaquarium with visually impaired children.
Sanchez said she never knows what to expect, but the sense of mystery keeps her job interesting.
Last year, she received a call from the photo editor of the student newspaper asking her to take pictures of a missing student’s family during a news conference at the University Police Department.
When the Christian Aguilar murder case was in the headlines, Sanchez was compensated by the Miami Herald for permission to use her photograph. Although it was a tragic event, she said that was a defining moment in her college career.
“It was definitely the beginning of getting recognition,” she said.
Sanchez was able to score a summer internship with the Miami Herald as a result of her hard work.
Although she is still learning and always strives to further improve her skills, she said photojournalists are often undervalued by people outside of their field.
“I think people underestimate our ability to take photographs,” she said. “People say ‘Oh man, I wish I had a nice camera because I could take such good photos.” It’s kind of unnerving because no, you can’t. It takes time and practice.”
She said through visual documentation, “photojournalism has the ability to change things in the world,” but when she’s not working on an assignment, travel is her biggest passion to pursue through photography.
She has backpacked through Nicaragua and has studied abroad in Berlin, which enabled her to travel through parts of Europe as well. Sanchez said she can see herself working abroad in the future.
“I just want to get lost in the world," she said. "That’s my dream.”
But for now, she said she's sticking to routine. Or, in this field, lack thereof. She said each day is a new adventure, and she never knows what she’ll find.
“Most people spend their days doing the 9-5 sort of thing," she said. "This is a 24-hour job, but I love this 24-hour job."