As a photo editor for AP Images, Julia Weeks finds herself on the front lines of premier
entertainment and sporting events.
By Gabrielle Maxey
It may not have been a glass slipper like Cinderella’s, but Julia Weeks did lose her
shoe at a ball. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala to be specific.
|AP Images photo editor Julia Weeks shakes hands with AP CEO Tom Curley after accepting
the Oliver S. Gramling Scholarship to study digital marketing
at New York University’s School of Professional and Continuing Education.
As a photo editor for AP Images, Weeks (BA ’06) edits photos in the field for movie
premieres, Fashion Week and awards shows in New York. The annual gala celebrates the
opening of the Met’s fashion exhibit at the Costume Institute. In May she was running
photo memory cards for AP photographers outside on the red carpet to an editing station
inside the museum, where she and her team edited the photos. "My job was to retrieve
the memory cards while the celebrities were entering the museum. I had to wear a (couture)
dress and everything. Before the event really got going, I was hurrying up the stairs
to where one of our photographers was, and I lost my shoe. I found it quickly, but
at the cost of a few good laughs from photographers and them telling me to get out
of the frames of their photos."
The Met gala attracts A-list celebrities like Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth
Paltrow, Gisele Bundchen and Cate Blanchett. "They turn out in full force to get a
sneak peek of the opening. The celebs dress to the nines in beautiful gowns and walk
up the steps of the Met Museum, where they’re photographed entering the fashion exhibit."
This spring Weeks marked her five-year anniversary working at AP Images, a division
of the Associated Press. AP Images provides editorial and creative photographs, videos,
graphics and interactives to professional image buyers.
Weeks edits, color corrects and writes captions for images sent from photographers
in the field for posting online. She has to stay on top of breaking news stories to
create featured events and showcases on the homepage and social media. Weeks processes
raw content from photo shoots that have been identified as major events. This can
involve working overnight shifts posting images from events like the Academy Awards,
Emmys, Grammys, Screen Actors Guild Awards and President Barack Obama’s inauguration
Weeks’ job puts her in contact with AP staff from bureaus around the world. She gets
to interact with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers. Weeks also serves as a liaison
between the AP Images sales team and AP photographers to fill requests for photos.
Their customers include newspapers, magazines, book publishers, online sites and individuals
who want to purchase personal prints.
While she’s busy as an editor, Weeks tries to find time to do her own photography.
She has photographed singers Rihanna and Norah Jones in concert and shot the University
of Memphis basketball team at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden.
"That was awesome since I’m a huge basketball and Tigers fan," says Weeks. "Sitting
on the sidelines at Madison Square Garden was such a surreal experience since I’ve
watched so many games there on TV."
One of her prized possessions is a New York Police Department press pass that allows
her to cross police barricades. "This comes in handy when I’m photographing street
festivals and parades in New York," Weeks says. "I’ve photographed the famous Halloween
parade in Greenwich Village, the Gay Pride parade and the New York Giants Super Bowl
|Julia Weeks has photographed a diverse assortment of events for AP, including (from
left): the jammer for the Brooklyn Bombshells skating past the Sockit Wenches of Seattle
during their Roller Derby bout at Hunter College Sportsplex in New York; singer Rihanna
performing at the Nokia Theatre in New York; and thousands of people practicing yoga
in New York’s Times Square to mark the summer solstice. (AP Photos/Julia Weeks)
The most memorable event she has photographed, though, may have been the reaction
in the New York State Senate Chamber in Albany when lawmakers legalized gay marriage
in New York. "It was a special moment that I will never forget. Right now, I’m really
into taking photos on my iPhone, applying cool filters in Instagram and sharing them
with my friends."
Recently Weeks won the $3,000 Oliver S. Gramling Scholarship to pursue a certificate
in digital marketing at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional
Studies. She has completed three of the six courses for the certificate and is enrolled
in another class this summer. The courses so far have emphasized social media. The
last three courses will be more marketing-centric, where she’ll learn how to measure
the results of her social media efforts.
With the scholarship and classes, Weeks and a colleague are maintaining the AP Images’
Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts. "We post everything from breaking news and
outstanding photos to features, historical content and anything in between that generates
interest. I’m thrilled to be studying digital media marketing at NYU and managing
the AP Images’ social networks. I’m looking forward to putting my experience to good
While at the U of M, Weeks worked as a photography assistant in the Department of
Marketing, Communications and Public Relations and was a photographer for The Daily Helmsman. Before she joined the AP she worked as a photographer for the NBA’s New Jersey Nets.
During the games, she mostly did promotional shots like celebrities in attendance,
the dance team, mascot, sponsors and contests on center court. "It was a great gig
because I was able to roam around the arena while the game was taking place," she
says. "I photographed and met celebrities sitting courtside like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Magic
Johnson, James Gandolfini and Eva Longoria. This was super exciting because I’m a
huge entertainment fan."
Since working at the AP, it’s been one of Weeks’ goals to edit photos at the Academy
Awards and at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Her persistence paid off, and last
year she landed both assignments.
Working at an awards show is a much different experience than watching one on TV,
says Weeks. The 25-member AP crew for the Oscars worked out of a hotel which was connected
to the Kodak Theatre (now the Dolby Theatre), where the event was held. As soon as
the red carpet photographers took a photo, an image appeared on their computer screen.
"We must have looked at thousands of photos that night and moved hundreds of images
to the AP photo wire and AP Images archive," says Weeks.
A couple of hours after the show ended, Weeks had her only celebrity sighting of the
night. "Since we were in a room next to the theatre, we didn’t see any celebrities
during the show. But as we were getting ready to leave the venue, I saw Justin Timberlake
and his mom get into their car. Justin walked right by me, and I’ve always regretted
not telling him that I am from Memphis."
At the glamorous Cannes festival, Weeks and her team worked 12- to 14-hour days editing
photos from an office in the basement of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrés,
where the event takes place.
"My favorite part of the day happened each morning when I first arrived at the office,"
Weeks remembers. "I would go outside the back of the Palais, where actors were dropped
off for their daily photo calls." She was able to snap photos of such stars as Penelope
Cruz, Kirsten Dunst, Jodie Foster, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp. "Johnny Depp took a
nontraditional approach and arrived in style by way of boat at the marina. He was
especially fun to watch," says Weeks.
And she didn’t lose a shoe on the stairs.