Running Toward Fire

Fire: Goleta, Calif., 2016. Photograph by Marcus Yam, The Los Angeles Times.

Marcus Yam, BS ’06, graduated from UB with a degree in aerospace engineering—and then took a very different career path, becoming one of the top photographers in journalism today.

Finding his passion

Marcus Yam, BS '06

Now he tackles photographing people in crisis situations around the world, from Sandy Hook to Mosul to flood-ravaged Houston.

Yam was part of The Los Angeles Times breaking news team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif. He won an additional Pulitzer as part of the Seattle Times’ coverage of the deadly mudslide in Oso, Wash. His other honors include an Emmy, a duPont-Columbia journalism award and being named Newspaper Photographer of the Year. Yam, born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a staff photographer with The Los Angeles Times.

In a 2015 interview, Yam explained that his engineering background plays a role in how he approaches his job.

“It really informs my work,” he said. “I take a very analytical and technical approach to everything that I shoot.”

Crediting his experience at UB for introducing him to photojournalism, Yam took photographs for UB’s student newspaper, The Spectrum, to fulfill requirements to graduate.

His work led to an internship at The Buffalo News, and after a few weeks in the newsroom, Yam knew that he had found his calling.

“I had so much fun there. It was one of those rare moments in life when everything seemed to come together. Things were just clicking. That’s when I realized that this is what I wanted to do,” he said.

On Friday, October 6, you can learn more about his process, the people he has photographed, and see more of his award winning work. RSVP now to reserve your seat.

See some of his recent work