By Isaac Lopez
Air travel sucks. Sure, the very idea that we can travel from the East Coast to the West in under six hours is amazing, considering that a couple of centuries ago it would take several months, many diseases, and a few dead oxen. But still, you have to be at the airport a couple hours in advance, you have to let the TSA agents have their way with you—without taking you out to dinner first—and then get on a plane and just sit there for who knows how long before it takes off. All of these are givens at this point, but things can get even worse. The last thing you want is one of your worst nightmares to come true while you’re going through all of the usual airport routine—nobody ever wants their hard drive to crash, but if you’re a photographer coming off of a very big shoot, you really, REALLY don’t want your hard drive to crash. Especially when you’re the official photographer of the Miss America pageant, and especially when that very big shoot was, well… the Miss America pageant.
“My hard drive crashed at the airport when I was leaving [the pageant]… I was devastated,” said Bruce V. Boyajian, official Miss America photographer for the past 15 years. “I’m at the airport, just freaking out!” Luckily for the 57-year-old Boyajian, he managed to recover about 80% of his data; even more luckily, all of the “important stuff” was still there. However, the ordeal was enough for him to seriously consider some way to back up his data on the fly. An acquaintance told him about CRU-Dataport’s external hard drives, and Boyajian has been using them ever since the 2008 incident. “Being able to carry [the CRU-Dataport ToughTech Duo] in my camera bag is just… *laughs*… I take it everywhere I go,” Boyajian said.
Despite that stroke of bad luck, as well as a couple others—he spoke of a time when Dom DeLuise almost walked out of a shoot because he thought the $5,000+ Leica M6 Boyajian was shooting with was an amateur point-and-shoot—Boyajian has had it pretty good. The Richmond, VA-based photographer has had a very impressive 30-year career, shooting for big names such as The New York Times, The Associated Press (which is how he got noticed for the Miss America gig, as he was covering the event for AP), and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers team. However, way back when, Boyajian was just a fresh-faced teenager trying to get his first photography job.
“Two guys hired me to open a portrait studio in Gertz Department Store in Long Island,” said Boyajian. “Once that studio had several school contracts, we moved on to East Windsor, CT, to a standalone studio.” The good days weren’t going to last too long, though. “We were successful enough to get a loan from the bank to open more studios, but then the two guys took the money and ran,” said Boyajian. He moved back to New Jersey and started freelancing for local papers.
He gradually moved his way up and now enjoys a diverse set of assignments: he’ll be taking pictures of items for auction houses one day, and the next, he’ll be shooting former First Lady Laura Bush at a private D.C. function. Oh, did I mention his formal photography education doesn’t go beyond high school? “No college or art school,” said Boyajian. “[I] had a great art teacher, George Adams, in high school, and studied with a photographer, Ron Williams, that shot our yearbook.”
Miss America? Former First Ladies? The NBA? “No college, no problem” indeed.
See more of Bruce’s work – http://www.bvbphotography.com/
This post is sponsored by CRU-Dataport