Alumni and Friends

Boston Globe Staff Photographer Erin Clark recognized with multiple awards and honors

The last couple of years have been emotionally and physically draining for Erin Clark. Clark, a staff photographer at the Boston Globe and an Ohio University non-degree visual communications graduate program alumnus, had to cover several stories in 2023 which affected her emotionally and challenged her ability as a photographer. But her effort to visually tell the stories in ways that were effective while respectful of the people involved, has the industry taking notice.

Clark recently won multiple awards and recognitions for her work including: first place in the Local News Picture Story category from Pictures of the Year International, Photographer of the Year from the Boston Press Photographers Association and second place honors in the Photojournalist of the Year category from the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).

“These awards were a surprise and completely unexpected,” said Clark. “To see my work up alongside other photojournalists I admire, it’s unreal.”

Clark covered stories like the October, 2023 mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine where 18 people were shot and killed. She also worked on an in-depth retrospective series called “The untold story of the Charles and Carol Stuart shooting,” which examined how the 1989 murder of a white women by her husband in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston terrorized and wounded people in the Black community, who were falsely accused.

“These stories were incredibly hard to cover,” said Clark. “It was reassuring for me to know that this work that I documented, that was hard but about important topics, resonated with people. You want to make sure that the work holds weight. The awards validated the work and have encouraged me moving forward to know I can do my job and do it well. It’s worth the exhaustion and second guessing.”

Clark credits Ohio University with getting her to where she is today. Clark grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and came to Ohio University in 2016 to pursue her master’s degree in visual communication because she wasn’t on the right career path.

“I was doing wedding photography and archiving photographs. I just wasn’t happy,” said Clark. “As an undergraduate, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I thought I needed to get As on everything. So, I focused on the classwork and didn’t work at the school newspaper or do any internships. So, I didn’t have the portfolio I needed to do the work that I wanted to do. I wanted to do work that brought some sense of meaning in my life.”

The practical, hands-on experience she was able to gain while at Ohio University, along with the top-notch faculty is what Clark credits for changing everything.

“I had an amazing cohort and amazing professors,” said Clark. “I think at Ohio University they start you at square one. I joke that they break you before they start putting you back together again. I had to relearn what I knew about photography and restructure how I approached it to become what I am now.”

“Our photojournalism graduate program is inherently experiential,” said School of Visual Communication Associate Professor of Instruction Josh Birnbaum. “We send students out into the community to find interesting people, listen to their experience, and tell their stories. Students in VisCom learn by interacting, developing their social and journalistic skills, refining their ethics out in the field, and editing their work under guidance of mentors on the faculty.”

In 2018, as part of her degree program, Clark accepted an internship at the Boston Globe, which eventually led to the position she has now.

“Erin was an inquisitive, driven, and talented student,” said Birnbaum. “She grew tremendously while she was here and was always full of humor and heart. We are very proud of how she is creatively illuminating important stories in our society.”

“I never imagined I would be where I am today,” said Clark. “And I couldn’t have done it without the amazing program at Ohio University.”

May 7, 2024
Cheri Russo