At Northeastern, there are thousands of students and hundreds of faculty engaged in countless research projects, service projects, art installations, co-ops, and more. And two university photographers—Matthew Modoono and Adam Glanzman—capture it all.
They’ve covered numerous Beanpot games, several commencements, and hundreds of campus events. They’ve attended retirement parties and Gallery 360 exhibits. They were there when the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex opened, and when a group of axolotl salamanders needed a close-up.
One recent workday involved photographing an alumnus who was building tiny houses in Stoughton, Massachusetts, a group of new faculty, and the everyday campus hubbub. Modoono and Glanzman might find themselves at the Marine Science Center in Nahant, Massachusetts, capturing students and faculty engaged in environmental research. Or they might be creating artistry out of loaves of bread for a story about a student on co-op at a national bakery. Whatever is happening at Northeastern, they’re there.
Students, faculty, and staff routinely pause to strike up conversations with the photo pair on campus, recognizing their work from Faces of Northeastern or any number of other projects. They’re so deeply knit into the fabric of Northeastern, in fact, that dropping them anywhere on campus would surely stir a memory of a photograph they’d taken there.
If journalism is the first draft of history, as former Washington Post president and publisher Philip L. Graham said, then Modoono, photo manager, and Glanzman, staff photographer, are two of the university’s most prolific historians.
“We’re the eyes of the university,” Modoono said. “We take a lot of pride in that. Really, it’s an honor to show people Northeastern through our eyes.”
Developing an interest
Growing up in Lexington, Massachusetts, Modoono was first introduced to photography by his father, DJ, who developed film in a darkroom in the family’s basement. “He always had a camera in his hand when I was growing up,” Modoono recalled of his father. “He documented our family his whole life.”
In fact, Modoono’s first camera, an Olympus OM-2 that he keeps in a closet at home, was a gift from his dad.
Throughout high school and at Endicott College, Modoono focused on fine art photography—an abstract, emotionally-compelling form of the craft. But when he interned for Wicked Local Media in Concord, Massachusetts, he learned the art of photojournalism under the tutelage of photo editor John Walker.
For his first assignment at the paper, Modoono was sent to photograph a woman who was knitting in her house. “Honestly, seeing my name under a photo in print for the first time was really cool,” he said.
Modoono ultimately spent five years at Wicked Local, shooting breaking news and doing longer-term photojournalism. Among the hundreds of his photos that appeared in print since that first one was a shot of a firefighter rappelling down the side of a building, silhouetted by the sun. It was one of those serendipitous moments where everything—the exposure, the angle, the light—lined up to create a stunning image.
Modoono wasn’t just working at the newspaper during this time, however. For three years, he was also assistanting photographers with Sports Illustrated, shooting athlete portraits as well as NFL, MLB, and college football games.
His work has also appeared in four books, and he counts America’s Got Talent, HBO, the Boston Museum of Science, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center among a few of his dozens of clients.
‘An excuse to put yourself in someone else’s life’
Like Modoono, Glanzman honed his photography skills while in high school. He spent hours in a darkroom photography class, learning how to develop film. “I really loved it,” he said.
Then, at the University of Michigan, Glanzman worked at The Michigan Daily, the campus newspaper. The experience cemented his love for the craft and convinced him that photography was a viable career option.
During college, he held internships at Time and the Boston Red Sox, experiences that provided myriad learning opportunities. At Time, Glanzman learned photo editing, and at the Red Sox, he photographed games and other events at Fenway Park. “I learned a lot, between those two places,” he said.
Since then, Glanzman has traveled the country photographing everything from arm wrestling to NASCAR. His work has been featured by many organizations, including Getty Images, The New York Times, Financial Times, Bloomberg, the Players’ Tribune, Nature, and QZ.
One New York Times piece, a profile of 75-year-old arm wrestler Norm Devio, stands out in Glanzman’s mind. He worked on it for four months, on and off. “It was fun to get to know this man, this arm wrestler, and learn about a new subculture,” he said. “That’s one of the things I love about photography: it’s an excuse to put yourself in someone else’s life and learn what life is like for them.”
Glanzman brought his editorial style of photography to Northeastern in 2015.
Aside from working together, Modoono and Glanzman share a mutual connection. While Glanzman was freelancing before coming to Northeastern, he did a lot of work for Wicked Local, under John Walker—the very same photo editor who helped guide Modoono through his career. Both Glanzman and Modoono are also currently pursuing or planning to pursue advanced degrees at Northeastern.
Capturing the history of the university
Modoono and Glanzman now work side by side. They talk about photography the way some people talk about sports: They’ll discuss a photo and the intricacies of the gels a photographer used to achieve a certain effect. They’ll talk about the angles, or the lighting a photo required—everything in an attempt to deconstruct a striking image to its base components.
Their work (some of which they share on Instagram as @modoonophoto and @glanzpiece)has also garnered national recognition, as they routinely place in competitions hosted by the University Photographers Association of America. In the past two academic years, they’ve collected more than 60 awards combined. Just this summer, they attended a collegiate photography conference where they took home first and second place in the campus environment and portrait categories, respectively.
More than the technical Rubik’s Cube Modoono and Glanzman each puzzle through, their photos tell the stories of the people at Northeastern. To walk with them through campus is to stop every few feet for a quick hello from passersby who recognize them from past shoots.
With such a wide variety of assignments, no two days are alike for Modoono and Glanzman. “What Adam and I do is capture the history of the university,” Modoono said. “It’s really powerful to think that these photos will be looked at generations from now, after we’re long gone.”