Graduate’s photo reunites missing man with family

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Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press

This is the photo taken in Washington, D.C., that led to a missing man being reunited with his Rochester-area family.

This year was not the first time a photo taken by RIT graduate Jacquelyn Martin reunited a family with a missing relative.

On Jan. 4, Martin ’01 (professional photographic illustration) was on assignment for her job as an Associated Press photojournalist shooting record cold temperatures in Washington, D.C. Her photo of Nicholas A. Simmons, 20, warming himself on a steam grate near the U.S. Capitol ran in the USA Today insert in the Jan. 5 Democrat and Chronicle. Simmons’ family members, who live in the Rochester suburb of Greece, N.Y., had been searching for him since New Year’s Day.

Family members connected with Martin and she directed a family friend to where he was last seen. She also drove by to see if Simmons was still there. He was. Police identified him as the missing man and took him to George Washington University Hospital. He was reunited with his father that evening.

By Jan. 6, the story had made international headlines. And Martin, a Syracuse, N.Y., native, was interviewed by more than a dozen news outlets, including CBS This Morning and television stations in the Czech Republic and Poland.

A similar situation happened to Martin a few years ago when she shot another photo of a homeless woman in D.C. The woman’s daughter saw the photo, contacted Martin and was able to locate her mother. Martin said that case didn’t make news because the family wanted to keep the circumstances private.

“It shows the reach the AP has,” Martin said. “You never know where a picture is going to go.”

Martin has worked for The Associated Press for seven years. After graduating from RIT, she interned at three newspapers, including the Syracuse Post-Standard, and then worked full time for the Birmingham (Ala.) Post-Herald. The newspaper folded in 2005 and Martin spent a year looking for another job, contacting 100 different newspapers and wire services.

She began at AP covering the D.C. metropolitan area for three years and now primarily covers politics. She was assigned to shoot cold weather photos on Saturday because President Barack Obama was on vacation.

“This reminded me how photography can make a difference in people’s lives,” Martin said. “My photograph made a tangible impact on the life of a family I will never forget.”