North Central College - Naperville, IL

Alumnus Highlight: Justin Kosman '03



Justin Kosman ’03 recently bought a home in San Diego, but don’t expect to find him there. He’s far more likely to be in Italy, Germany, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas or Vail, CO. As a freelance photojournalist, Kosman is on location most weeks shooting for clients like Red Bull International, Vans, DC Shoes, Levi’s and GT Bicycles. He specializes in “fresh and progressive images,” capturing the visual art of extreme sports like skateboarding, BMX bicycles, snow skiing and motocross. If an ad campaign requires an edgy shot and brand originality, Kosman can fill the order.

“I’ve always loved taking photos,” says Kosman. “I’ve had a camera for 15 years.”

Kosman majored in journalism and found his career niche when he began racing BMX bicycles professionally his last two years in college. Rarely qualifying for the finals, his time was well-spent photographing his fellow competitors.

After graduation, he landed an unpaid internship at a biking magazine that promptly closed its doors. His big break came when he was hired by ESPN to work on research for the network’s Summer X Games. He produced athlete profiles for television coverage and his photos ended up in ESPN The Magazine.

“While I was there, I developed some amazing relationships with the advertisers, now my steady clients,” Kosman says. A recent assignment involved shooting extreme athletes as part of a new lifestyle campaign for Red Bull’s introduction of a cola product.

Originally from Geneseo, IL, Kosman arrived at North Central with a Presidential Scholarship and an interest in swimming, which he gave up to pursue bike racing. “The reasons you come to NCC are not the reasons you stay at NCC,” he says. “As a freshman, you have no idea the impact your professors will have on you—that’s why you stick around.”

Kosman visited campus in May to speak to members of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society. He credited Richard Guzman, professor of English; Nancy Kirby, assistant professor of journalism; and Jennifer Jackson, associate professor of English, with his success. Looking back, Kosman says that two Richter projects requiring writing and photography best prepared him for his career. “Both projects demanded independent thought and creative problem-solving and burning the midnight oil to have the perfect proposal—and that’s real life for me now.”

Kosman anticipates creating photos the rest of his life but would also like to share his entrepreneurial skills. He adds: “In life you have givers and you have takers. Giving back is a big deal for me.”

Kosman may be reached at

North Central NOW Fall 2008