MIDLAND (MI) DAILY NEWS: THREE AMIGOS

By Jim Colton

Last week, Sean Proctor of the Midland Daily News in Midland, Michigan, was named Photojournalist of the Year (Smaller Markets) in the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism contest. When informed about this honor by Donald Winslow of the NPPA, Sean said, “Wow, you’re kidding!”Although Sean may have been surprised, what isn’t shocking at all is that the Midland Daily News is the “Little Paper that Could.”

They are no stranger to awards. This small circulation newspaper located in the Tri-cities region of Michigan has garnered their share at major photography contests over the years including a 3rd place this year for Photo Editing Portfolio at POYi for ALL newspapers, regardless of circulation…right behind the New York Times and the Washington Post. And they did so, without a photo editor!

The driving force behind the visuals at the newspaper are three young staff photographers; Sean Proctor, Neil Blakeand Nick King. They are a triumvirate that not only shoots the stories, but they assign them, edit them, lay them out and occasionally write them as well! They do it as a group; with implicit trust in each other.

Although Sean has been an intern at the Citizen Patriot in Jackson, Michigan and the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia, this is his first full time job as a staff photographer at the Midland Daily News, joining the crew in late 2012. Neil Blake has been a staff photographer for the paper since 2011 and had internships at the Herald in Jasper, Indiana and at the Concord Monitor in Concord, New Hampshire. Prior to joining the Daily News in 2010, Nick King was a staff photographer for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Columbia, Missouri as well as serving as a photo editor at the Evergreen Newspapers in Evergreen, Colorado.

In an industry that’s being continually downsized, it’s refreshing to see good work being published on a local level and being recognized on a national one.

Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/midland-mi-daily-news-three-amigos

GREGORY HEISLER: EXPLOITER OF LIGHT

By Jim Colton

George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak company, once said: "Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography."

Perhaps nowhere is this truer than the art of portraiture. Using light (artificial or natural) and understanding its nuances, is an art form in itself. The subtleties imbued with light and shadow can make or break a compelling portrait. And few in our industry, embrace, admire, love and know light as well as Gregory Heisler.

In addition to the 70 plus covers he has done for TIMEmagazine, Heisler’s portraits have also graced the covers of LIFEEsquireSports IllustratedESPNGQGEO and The New York Times Magazine. His commercial and advertising clients have included American ExpressMerrill Lynch andNike. Heisler’s work has been recognized with prestigious photographic awards including the Leica Medal of Excellence and the Alfred Eisenstadt Award.

One of the portraits he is most noted for is the January 7, 1991 TIME magazine "Men of the Year" cover of the 41st US President George H.W. Bush. The cover line read, "The Two George Bushes," and showed President Bush in two profiles as a multiple "in-camera" exposure, not created after the fact in Photoshop.

After its release, then US Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwaterwas furious claiming the magazine lied to him and only wanted to show the President as a "two-faced" politician which resulted in the temporary revocation of Heisler's and TIME's White House press privileges. They eventually reinstated them and Heisler has photographed several sitting Presidents since that time.

He is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, Massachusetts where he devotes much of his time giving back to students there as well as photography workshops and lectures in Maine, Santa Fe and Dubai.

Greg was always the “go-to guy” when I was at Sports Illustrated when we needed a dynamic portrait. I am sure I speak for many of my brethren in the industry who felt the same way. You always knew he would come back with the goods. 

Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-gregory-heisler-exploiter-light

ERIKA LARSEN: A QUIET ELEGANCE

By Jim Colton

Photographs speak to us all in different ways. That’s part of the beauty of our craft. When I was a photo editor at Newsweek magazine, I loved images that captured the scene and told the story without the need of a caption. Similarly, when I was at Sports Illustrated, nothing grabbed my attention more than a “belter,” that smash mouth, in-your-face, peak-action moment. 

In auditory terms, I’d categorize those as the louder moments. But a photograph can also speak volumes with a whisper. The stoic beauty of a quiet moment can pierce the heart. Few have managed to do that as well as Erika Larsen. Her work, in a word, is enchanting, simple in structure, thoughtful in composition and always conveying her vision with a quiet elegance. 

Larsen graduated with a BFA and MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. After being accepted to the Eddie Adams Workshop in 1997, she embarked on a career in magazine photography. She has also received several grants including a Fulbright Fellowship, New Jersey State Arts Council Fellowship, Women in Photography Individual Project Grant and the Lois Roth Endowment.

Her work has been recognized with a World Press Photo award and has been included in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the Swedish Museum of Ethnography and the AjtteSámi Museum.  Her photographs have been published in dozens of magazines from AARP toWIRED and she was even a contributing photographer for Field and Stream.

Her latest work “People of the Horse,” will be featured in the March 2014 issue of National Geographic magazine. 

Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-erika-larsen-quiet-elegance

MARYANNE GOLON: THE WASHINGTON POST

By Jim Colton

Most of us can recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001.

On that day, most of the nation -- indeed the world -- sat riveted to live television coverage and endless replays of the day’s most gruesome moments. While television captured us for the day, many agree that it was the power of the printed image that burned those moments into our collective memory…still images made by courageous photographers who ran into the chaos while others desperately fled…a chaos later sorted and clarified by photo editors like MaryAnne Golon, then director of photography at TIME magazine. 

Golon received a B.S. in Journalism and Communications from the University of Florida, was the Director of Photography at US News & World Report, followed by 15 years as the Director of Photography at TIME magazine where she earned wide recognition and acclaim for TIME’s 9/11 coverage.  She was the on-site photography editor in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War and coordinated all of TIME's photographic coverage of several Olympic Games

In a word, Golon is tenacious. The same tenacity she employed just to get to Manhattan from New Jersey that fateful day is but one of many examples of the determination she brings to all her endeavors. Now, as the Assistant Managing Editor and the Director of Photography at the Washington Post, she supervises all aspects of photography for the newspaper and its digital forms.

Well-traveled and worldly, her wisdom, guidance and energy is a beacon that “carries that light of photojournalism,” for all to see. 

Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-maryanne-golon-washington-post

KAREN KUEHN: BURN NOTICE

By Jim Colton

Back in the day when magazine photojournalism was strong and assignments were plentiful just maintaining a visual presence and having a unique style got you work. We all know that’s no longer the case. In the 80s and 90s, Karen Kuehn’s credit line appeared in almost every major publication. Today, like so many photographers, she struggles finding the balance that will satisfy both her heart…and her rent.

Kuehn has a passion for making compelling portraits and telling stories. Her early years included an internship at National Geographic before spending 16 years as a freelancer in New York City and then moving on to New Mexico in 2001 after becoming a mom and wanting to raise her son in a rural environment.

She continues to take the occasional assignment when it comes in, but in the meantime, has immersed herself in a personal project that has consumed her very soul - Burning Man: the annual migration of spirited souls to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Her latest project, “Cargo Cult,” is a 200 page, 12x12 hardcover book illustrating the event with images and quotes. The book is financed by a Kickstarter campaign. 

This week, we enter Karen Kuehn’s world and talk about issues and events that took her from being a National Park Service Ranger to one of today’s most spirited and committed photographers.

Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-karen-kuehn-burn-notice

MARCO GROB: REJECTION TO REDEMPTION

By Jim Colton

For those of us who are diminutive in stature -- I am but five feet five inches tall -- we have a common unspoken bond with others possessing ED (Elevation Deficiency) I was always FIRST in line in public school as they entered the auditorium for assembly in size order. It was always me and Bonnie Bruman…the two shortest kids in the school. 

And I was always LAST to be picked on a team for any sporting event. But that stopped happening once they saw me play. As a teen…I was a jock…I admit it….but as a small teen, I had to run faster, shoot better, jump higher…just to keep up with the bigger guys….which I did. Even at my limited size, I could dunk a tennis ball on a regulation basketball court. (That’s ten feet high for those who don’t know)

In many ways, that first rejection may be hurtful, but it drives you…and makes you work harder. And the redemption is even sweeter when people realize it and say, “Hey, that guy is good!” Such is the case with photographerMarco Grob

As a teenager, Marco was rejected while applying for photography at a University in Switzerland.  And today, he is one of the most sought after portrait photographers in the business. But he is not bitter. On the contrary, he considers himself blessed. Commenting on being invited to be an instructor at the Eddie Adams Workshop this past year, he said, “After not being allowed to be a student in my homeland Switzerland - I was asked to be a teacher in my new home, the US…something that went full circle…which I consider wonderful!” 

His credentials are impeccable. His numerous awards include an EMMY for his work in TIMEMagazine’s “Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience,” which is also now part of both the Smithsonian Museum's and the National 9/11 Memorial's permanent collections; as well as recognition by POYi, the Swiss, German and American Art Directors Club and the prestigious Hasselblad Master in 2007.

TIME Magazine’s Director of Photography, Kira Pollack says about Grob, “Commissioning Marco to make a portrait is like knowing you will hit the bulls-eye before it happens. His elegant eye paired with his technical wizardry has yielded some of the greatest portraits for TIME since I joined in 2010. From Lady Gaga to Steve Jobs to President Bush to Hilary Clinton, Marco has proved himself across all different subjects and degrees of difficulty. He is a true pleasure to work with and he sets the bar high.”

This week, we have a conversation with the very talented and extremely personable Marco Grob.

Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/marco-grob-rejection-redemption

 

YUNGHI KIM: CORE VALUES

By Jim Colton

In the wake of the landmark $1.2 million award reached in the Daniel Morel vs. AFP/Getty Images lawsuit for willful infringement of Morel’s images from the 2010 Haitian earthquake, there has been much discussion concerning photographer’s copyright and how to pursue organizations and publications for damages for unauthorized usage. 

Veteran photojournalist Yunghi Kim is a strong proponent of photographer’s rights and offers suggestions to problems that all photographers now face as they tread through the morass of digital landmines. She also is quite vocal regarding protecting the value of one’s work. Kim says, “without monetary support, in whatever form that takes, photojournalism as an industry is dead!”

Kim espouses the adage that the best defense is often a good offense -- recommending photojournalists take preemptive measures in the present to prevent damage in the future. 

And in contrast to Ben Lowy (recently interviewed for Photo Journal), Kim has strong opinions about iPhoneography and its place in the professional photojournalistic market. 

Kim has been a staff photographer for the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts, the Boston Globe, and affiliated with the photo agency Contact Press Images for 20 years. She’s covered major international stories from the famine in Somalia in 1992 (for which she was the runner up for the Pulitzer) to documenting the lives of South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II.

She’s received numerous major photojournalism awards, including the Olivier Rebbot Award and John Faber Award from the Overseas Press Club and Magazine Photographer of the Year from POYi(one of only two women to receive that award). She continues to give back to the photojournalism community as a member of the NPPA board of directors and instructor for the Eddie Adams Workshop and Missouri Photo Workshop.

Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/yunghi-kim-core-values

BEN LOWY: EMBRACING CHANGE

By Jim Colton

The current state of photojournalism has often been described as a Digital Revolution. I prefer to describe it without the letter “r.” To me, we are experiencing a Digital Evolution. Our industry is constantly changing and those who are grasping on to the ghosts of the past will only lose out on the fruits of the future. 

Over ten years ago, we transited from analog to digital photography and it rocked our world, even though there were many who resisted that change. Perhaps the same could have been said when color photography was first introduced and Black & White purists shunned the idea that we existed in a world of living color.

Today, we have an internet canvas that is being painted with digital brushes of all kinds. Supplementing the print form of newspapers and magazines are web sites and apps with a voracious appetite for images. 

One artist who has deftly used his digital brush to paint his world is Ben Lowy. Lowy has been an ardent supporter and user of the iPhone for journalistic as well as artistic purposes since its inception. 

His travels have taken him to the war-torn countries of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.  He has covered domestic stories like Hurricane Sandy (His Instagram photo of a storm churned wave was used as the cover of Time magazine) and the BP Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf. And in all of those places his iPhone was always included in his camera bag’s arsenal. His work has been awarded every major photography prize from organizations such as World Press Photo to the International Center of Photography where he was presented with the Infinity Award for Photojournalism in 2012. He has even had an appearance on the Daily Show with John Stewart!

I have had the pleasure of conducting workshops with Ben and in addition to being a very passionate and talented photojournalist; he’s also a fascinating and often hilarious human being. This week, Lowy discusses several new projects including “Being a dad,” and  everything from drawing cadavers in a St. Louis morgue to walking over bodies in Libya…all while using every tool available to him, including the iPhone.

Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/ben-lowy-embracing-change

JAMES J. KENNEY: REST IN PEACE

Today my heart is filled with sadness. Our industry has lost a legend and I have lost a friend, mentor and a second father. I just heard of the passing of former Photo Editor of Newsweek magazine Jim Kenney.

Jim was my son Shane’s Godfather. But more than that he was like a father to me. As a scrapping young photo editor in 1977, Jim hired me away from the Associated Press to be an Associate Photo Editor at the magazine as they were just starting to use more color images in the magazine and I was AP’s Color Picture Editor. It was the beginning of a 17-year, two stint relationship that I have cherished as the highlight of my 40+ year career.

I’ve often described those years at the magazine as the glory years of photojournalism. In an analog world, the competition was fierce and making the weekly deadlines included logistics as complicated as hand carrying undeveloped film on the Concorde (which I did seven times!) It meant loading up a Lear Jet with 6 photographers and a correspondent from Washington DC and attempting to invade the island of Grenada and being threatened to be shot out of the sky by an Air Force F-16 fighter jet as we entered Grenadian Air Space.

There are hundreds of similar stories about how Newsweek, with half the budget of our competition, would put up the good fight and come home with the goods on a weekly basis. And at the helm, was the gentle giant Jim Kenney and his trusted Irish side-kick John (Willie) Whelan.

Jim had nicknames for all his staff. Joan (Angel) Engels, Dave (The Coach) Wyland, Tom (The Digger) Tarnowsky (Kenney thought he looked like an undertaker) and of course, Kevin (The Juvenile Delinquent) McVea…well...just because he was.  Me? I was just “Colt,”….as in “Colt…you’re going to Grenada!”

Kenney was also famous for “Kenney-isms.” Examples:  “All socks are white.” Or when someone inquired about a caption, “Where do you want it to be, and when do you want it to be?” And my personal favorite, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit!”

There wasn't a kinder man on the planet. Family always came first with Jim. And “Work hard, play hard,” was the credo we all lived by. There wasn't anything we wouldn't do for the patriarch of that department. Celebrations were as infamous as the Photo Department Christmas parties, to the annual gathering at John Whelan’s house in Marlboro, N.J. where the entire department and their families would get tanked and sing Christmas carols out of tune…but no one cared.

But know this about the man…He cared. Everyone in that department was like one of his own kids. And when personal matters needed to be taken care of, they were dealt with FIRST!

Everything I learned about ethics in our industry was fostered by Jim. We never doctored a photograph, never did anything underhanded just to beat the competition and we lived and died with production created by hard work, ingenuity, and our sweat and tears. We won some. We lost some. But it was always done on a level playing field.

My heart is heavy today. But I am a better journalist and a better man because of this gentle giant. Rest in Peace Jim Kenney. We will always love you and be forever thankful that you came in to our lives.

 

 

VULTURE JOURNALISM

 

Looks like all this Hoo Ha about the Why I'm Glad Paul Walker Is Dead story is all a hoax. The writer's Facebook page was just created. And other stories on the website are as absurd as this one. Either way, it was in extremely poor taste and I feel sorry for the creators.

I have removed it from my blog

BRAD SMITH: RETURN ENGAGEMENT

By Jim Colton

Poet and historian Carl Sandburg once said, “I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.” I have shared that optimism all my life and have always believed it’s all about the journey and not the destination. No one travels the same path during their lives and careers as anyone else. Hell, when I was in high school, I wanted to be a gym teacher…and then a potter…and went through several iterations of majors in college before settling on Liberal Arts.

Looking back at my career path, I can even see where I doubled back and walked the same path…although with different shoes. I left Newsweek magazine as a senior photo editor for international news in 1988 to head up a news photo agency only to return three years later asNewsweek’s director of photography. Like many things, stepping away from something and getting some distance from it might make you appreciate it more when you come back.

There is also no right path…or wrong path...just your path. And you make corrections to it along the way to make that journey as pleasant and as rewarding as possible. One of my brethren in the industry who has also doubled back on his career path is the new Director of Photography at Sports IllustratedBrad Smith.

In the 1990’s Brad was the Director of Photography at SI for Kids as well as SI Women (which has since folded). Both titles were under the umbrella of Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Group. In March of this year, after an extended stint as a photo editor at the New York Times, he returned to Sports Illustrated as their DP.

Less than a month into his new role, on deadline day, the Boston Marathon bombing occurred. No stranger to deadlines…in less time than he would have had to produce images for the New York Times, he closed one of the magazines most memorable covers and issues of the year. Eight months into his new role, Smith still describes it as, “I still feel like I won a contest!”

This week, Photo Journal has a conversation with Brad Smith as he talks about his path…that has taken him from a French photo agency to the White House, from Circus magazine to the New York Times…and gives us an inside look on how Sports Illustrated has gone from a weekly magazine to a 24-hour news service that covers the world of sports.

Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/brad-smith-return-engagement

DENNIS DIMICK: AN ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAIT

By Jim Colton

Growing up as a teenager is the 1960’s with both parents in the journalism field, (Dad, the Director of Photography for the Associated Press and Mom the Art Director for People Magazine) there were always magazines and newspapers in the house. But the two staples that always graced the coffee table were LIFE magazine and National Geographic, delivered by subscription mail and arriving each month with great anticipation. 

As with many readers, I flipped through LIFE magazine from back-to-front starting with the feature on the last page called “Miscellany.”  It frequently displayed a photo which more often than not brought a smile to my face. It was surely one of my first encounters with the power of photography and its ability to move the viewer in some way bringing deeper meaning to many of life’s whimsical situations.

On a bit more serious note, I was equally fascinated by the little magazine with big impact,National Geographic. I remember the bookshelf in our living room which was lined with the trademark yellow boundary, perfect bound monthly issues….stacked as neatly as a library. Each issue brought me to places around the world, enriching my life with cultures I might never have the chance to experience in real life.  And every issue also came with an outrageous fold-out map with amazing detail which would keep me occupied for hours!

In my later years, as a professional photo editor, I have grown to appreciate the amazing visuals that continues to bring to their readers…and…I have a profound respect for the people behind the scenes that make that possible. One of those people is their Executive Editor, Dennis R. Dimick.

Dimick is not only a champion for great photography and great stories but he is also acutely involved in the magazine’s coverage of environmental issues, a topic that is near and dear to his very existence. In addition to overseeing all of NG’s environmental stories, you will find Dimick speaking about climate change on the lecture circuit, jotting thoughts on his blog and Twitter as well as posting his images on Instagram, Tumblr, and 500px (see links below). And for almost 20 years, he’s also given back to the industry as a faculty member of the Missouri Photo Workshop emphasizing documentary photojournalism inspired by the 1930’s Farm Security Administration photographers like Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange. 

I don’t know where he finds the time to do all this, so I was flattered when he agreed to allow me to steal some of that precious time to share his thoughts on everything from his early influences to environmental issues to how National Geographic has tackled the digital landscape once littered with boxes of Kodachrome.

Read the interview here:   

https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-dennis-dimick-environmental-portrait

 

PRESTON GANNAWAY: LEAP OF FAITH


By Jim Colton

As a photo editor, I have had the pleasure of being on the other end of the loupe for over 40 years. I have traveled the world through thousands of other eyes. I’ve been to places that I would never have had the opportunity to go to on my own. The lightbox, and now my monitor, has been my window to the universe.

There are several joys in being a photo editor. The obvious one of course, is finding that gem. I’ve often described my job as that of a treasure hunter….digging through the lightbox looking for jewels. But my greatest pleasure has always been watching the blossoming of a great photographer….and….if I was lucky, to have been a small part of that growth.

Color transparencies from raw takes have slid under my loupe from the likes of James Nachtwey, Christopher Morris, Peter Turnley, Anthony Suau and a litany of others…many of whom got their first magazine assignments for Newsweek where I was the photo editor for international news.

So where does emerging talent come from today? Where does the next generation of Nachtwey’s go to cut their teeth? I have just returned from the 26th Eddie Adams Workshop where 100 students are taking those first steps.  It was there, 10 years ago, that I first met Preston Gannaway. I was her team editor and Sports Illustrated staff photographer Bill Frakes was her team leader.

I asked Bill for his thoughts on Gannaway and he said, “Preston is the prototype for a successful contemporary storyteller -- Passionate, talented, and committed. She identifies the subject and explores it completely with a sensitive, yet critical eye.  And the bonus is that she is delightful!” 

Talented and delightful indeed! And in those ten years, at various newspapers, she has garnered more than her share of photography awards including a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2008 for her project "Remember Me," about Carolynne St. Pierre and her family's battle with a rare form of liver cancer.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Gannaway has just taken a leap of faith and left her position as a staff photographer for the Virginian-Pilot to go freelance on the west coast. While she was working and living in Virginia, Gannaway immersed herself in a project right outside her living room window.

The project (currently seeking funding on Kickstarter) called:  Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, is a visual essay exploring the working-class seaside community of Ocean View and the residents' relationship to the natural environment and the changing character of this American neighborhood.

Read the interview here:    

https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-preston-gannaway-leap-faith

 

PETER TURNLEY: FRENCH KISS

 

By Jim Colton

A young man walks into the brasserie at 55 Quai de Bourbon on Isle Saint-Louis in Paris, in the mid 1970s. He is confident. Fresh from Fort Wayne, Indiana, he's been practicing his French and is now prepared to ply his newly learned linguistic acumen. He has been repeating to himself, "Je voudrais une bière...Je voudrais une bière...Je voudrais une bière." (I'd like a beer.) Ambling up to the bar, his eyes meet with the bartender and he states, "Je m'appelle une bière!" (My name is beer!)

Without blinking an eye, the grinning bartender responds...in perfect English, "Hello, Mr. Beer, what would you like to drink?" Thus began Peter Turnley's love affair not only with the French culture, but also with La Brasserie de l'Isle Saint-Louis.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Peter for more than 30 years. We worked together at Newsweek magazine and we covered some amazing stories during some equally amazing years. He never failed to produce outstanding work while on assignment. Which is quite a statement considering all the stories he’s covered.  But trust me, he's that good!

His travels have taken him to more than 90 countries covering everything from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the fall of the twin towers on 9/11. Throw in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Middle East conflict, Chechnya, Rwanda and others and you get the picture. He’s been a busy guy! Turnley has photographed Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat,Princess Diana and Pope Jean Paul II, just to name a few. And along the way, he's had 43 covers of Newsweek.

He also has managed to change with the times and remain proactive and vital in an ever-morphing market.  He has a keen understanding of the business of photography and adapted while never compromising his true love for the “found moment.”  His philosophy is simple, “everywhere around the world, the things that people have in common with one another are greater than the things that make them different.”

So with his newest book coming out, French Kiss - A Love Letter to Paris, I thought this would be a perfect time to get an inside look at this soft spoken but hard driving -- American in Paris.

Read the interview here:  

https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-peter-turnley-part-1

 

JACQUELYN MARTIN: FEEDING YOUR SOUL

By Jim Colton

I have often said that a good picture has to be “affective” to be “effective.” A truly great image causes a visceral reaction within us. It makes us mad, it makes us cry, it makes us laugh - it makes us feelsomething.  If an image hasn’t done one of those things, then it hasn’t done its job.

Finding and capturing those images is another matter. Where do you start? What homework is involved? Truly moving images and engaging stories are generally not the result of serendipity. Yes, there is the occasional spot news image that unfolds in front of our lenses but even then, there is usually some preparation that takes place before that happens. Luck favors the prepared.

But when it comes to finding that perfect feature story or personal project, Washington AP staff photographer describes the process as being, “…vital to have work that feeds your soul.” And with that hunger comes preparation, sacrifice and dedication…knowing full well that the results may never see the light of day in print.

Her self-funded story on albinism in Tanzania, “Tribe of Ghosts,” is hauntingly beautiful…and affective! It required months of research and contacting nonprofits and NGO’s but her hard work paid off…perhaps not so much monetarily, but her images not only feed the soul but also shine a light on the souls of her subjects.

Martin is a much decorated photographer with awards bestowed upon her from the White House News Photographers Association to the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism contest. She is also the President of the Women Photojournalists of Washington (WPOW) where she is a champion in educating the public about the work and accomplishments of women in the field of photojournalism.

This week, Photo Journal has a conversation with the very passionate Jacquelyn Martin about early influences, women in the industry, balancing the personal project with her full time gig as a staff wire photographer…and “feeding her soul.”

 Read the interview here:  

https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-jacquelyn-martin-feeding-your-soul

 

ERIC STRACHAN: THE NAPLES DAILY NEWS

By Jim Colton

When I first started in this business (in 1972 for those of you who want to know) there weren't a whole lot of photography workshops. It was more an era of work hard, play hard, learn on the run, get the job done and move on. But I was lucky. I had several terrific mentors along the way. 

The first to take this long-haired teen under his wings was the director of the photo library at the Associated Press, Henry Mecinski. Every conversation with Henry started the same way. His glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, pipe in hand, he would bark, “Lemme ask you a question.” Always inquisitive, he genuinely wanted to know not only what I was doing, but why I was doing it -- looking out for me in an almost fatherly way. He got me excited about photojournalism and pushed me harder than he would his own son. He arranged my work schedule so I could work full time and finish my college degree.  Because to him, “There’s nothing more important than that sheepskin, kid!”

So if and when you find one of these mentors in your life, grab hold and never let go! Eric Strachan is that kind of mentor.

Strachan has been with the Naples Daily News for 32 years, starting as one of two staff photographers in 1981. He became the director of photography in 1991, then assistant managing editor, then managing editor and then in 2008 became senior managing editor where his responsibilities now include supervising the entire daily editorial operations.

Along the way he helped build and direct the photography staff, has won numerous awards for the newspaper, and led the editorial portion of three of the paper’s redesigns. He has also served as faculty for the Stan Kalish Picture Editing Workshop, the Mountain Photography Workshop and has been a judge for the editing portion of the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism contest. He is always giving back.

Needless to say, his impact on the Naples Daily News has been huge. He credits a lot of his success to hiring great talent along the way and “treating them like a partner, learning from each other and pushing each other as well.” As he rose on the masthead, he never looked down at those in the positions he left behind but rather embraced them, mentored them, and became the bridge between the editorial and visuals. Few have made the transition from photographer to managing editor as well. 

Read the interview here:   

https://nppa.org/page/naples-daily-news-eric-strachan

CHRIS CAPOZZIELLO: A BROTHER’S LOVE

By Jim Colton

A brother’s love…there is nothing like it. 

Growing up, I had an older brother…although at times that fact could be debated…he didn’t always act like the elder. And as with any household, there was the sibling rivalry, the one-upmanship, bragging rights as well as the occasional fight. Who hasn’t had them with a sibling? But at the end of the day, there was a bond like no other.

My brother, Jay Colton, passed away three years ago. I miss him every day. He was a talented photographer and respected photo editor, and we both wound up on the same photojournalism path albeit via different routes. Having both parents in the business, I blame it on our DNA.

As brothers we shared rooms, clothes, ideas, philosophies as well as likes and dislikes on everything from music to food. He loved Uni (Raw sea urchin)…I can’t stand the stuff! He beat me at chess…I beat him at tennis. But we both had a love for photography and a passion for editing. He was a champion for many aspiring photojournalists and always gave back to the industry. Jay passed away while doing portfolio reviews at a workshop in Brazil. A champion...right to the end.

Chris Capozziello has a brother…a twin. His name is Nick. They too, shared rooms, clothes, ideas and philosophies. But Nick has cerebral palsy. It gave Chris reason to question; “Why does this happen to anyone?” “Why did it happen to Nick and not me?” This curiosity inspired Chris to document his brother’s ailment and is now the subject of a book he is trying to finance via Kickstarter. The title is “The Distance Between Us.” (See link below) 

It hasn’t been easy. According to Capozziello, “There’s risk that this in the end might hurt my brother. Recently I read the book to my family for the first time from cover to cover and Nick didn’t make it past page 25. He began to tear up, and then couldn’t stop crying. That’s something I wonder about quite a bit. Photojournalists want to show life honestly and in all of its realness. But, how do the people whose lives are being shared feel about a wider audience scrutinizing their lives? Are they scared? Ashamed? Embarrassed? Excited? Ambivalent?”

The images are intimate…and deeply personal. But they bring the viewer into a world that they normally wouldn’t see…and gain a greater understanding and appreciation not only for its debilitating effects but also the pure joy and humanity of how a family is dealing with it...together.

Read the interview here:  

https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-chris-capozziello-brothers-love

RÓBERT CSERE AND .týždeň

By Jim Colton

 It’s been said that photographs speak volumes…and they do so without uttering a single word. Like math and music, photography is truly a universal language. It is understood and appreciated by all who view it, regardless of what continent you’re on. In the landlocked Central European country of Slovakia, the news magazine .týždeň is making its photographic voice heard loud and clear.

Half the size of Indiana, Slovakia’s population is a whopping 5.4 million people. Reaching out to that audience as well as Slovaks abroad since 2004, .týždeň’s impact on visuals has not gone unnoticed here in the US where it has been recognized by some of the largest photography contests. When the awards were announced, many photojournalists (including yours truly) were asking the question, “What’s .týždeň?” 

In addition to publishing some remarkable imagery from around the world, .týždeň puts an international spin on US stories and displays, quite handsomely, many American photographers’ work throughout its pages. The driving force behind that visual display is its Creative Director Róbert Csere who was named Magazine Picture Editor of the Year three times by the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism contest as well as receiving honors from POYi. 

According to Csere, The publishing of a serious print magazine in Slovakia is on the edge between a miracle and madness!”  Join us as we have a conversation with the dynamic, spirited and often humorous Róbert Csere.

Read the interview here:  

https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-r%C3%B3bert-csere-and-t%C3%BD%C5%BEde%C5%88

 

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: APRIL SAUL

By Jim Colton

Family first! It’s an adage we've heard all our lives and in all industries. But what if you’re an aspiring female photojournalist in the 1970’s and a preeminent photographer tells you, “If you want to do what I do, you can’t get married!” What kind of a picture does that paint for one’s future? Can you pursue a career in photojournalism while maintaining a commitment to your family? The answer is YES!

It’s all about striking a balance. And few have done that better than Philadelphia Inquirer staff photographer April Saul. A 30 plus year Pulitzer Prize winning veteran with a warm smile and a compassionate heart, Saul is an inspiration to all photojournalists. In 1980 she became the first female photographer for the Baltimore Sun before landing at the Philadelphia Inquirer…and has been blazing the trail for aspiring women photojournalists ever since.

“I would love to say it’s been easy being a woman in this business, but it was hard from the get-go,” says Saul. “Being a single mother for over 20 years has also defined me. The good news was my children made me a better person and a better photojournalist.  And that being a mother did not destroy my career; it only forced me to tell stories closer to home.”

One of those “closer to home,” stories was a personal project on the city of Camden, NJ, which recently was recognized by both POYi and the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism contests. This week, Photo Journal talks with Saul about the project, discrimination along her journey, and what it was like to be a woman, a mother and a photojournalist through some difficult years.

Read the Interview here:  

https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-april-saul

 

TECHNICAL KNOCKOUT

An open letter to all newspaper publishers and CEO’s

By Jim Colton

Technology has changed. We get that. Advancements in photography have now made it easier for anyone to take quality pictures. We get that too. But how we embrace these changes is what separates us from average and excellent.

The recent layoffs of the entire photography departments at the Chicago Sun-Times and now the closing of the photography departments at five newspapers and two weeklies in the Southern Community Newspapers Inc. (SCNI) in Georgia, has sent out a dangerous message. What those two entities (and anyone else considering doing the same) are saying to their loyal readers is that they are setting their visual bar to a level of mediocrity.

Fact: Everyone reads a newspaper or magazine the same way. The first thing they look at is the picture….then the headline…then the caption and then subheads, etc., before they decide whether they want to continue reading the article. If the image doesn’t capture their attention, there is a very good possibility they will skip over the article no matter how well it’s written.

So by eliminating the department that supplied those images, you have accepted the reality that you now consider your newspaper to be one that is “serviceable,” and nothing more. You are satisfied to publish average photographs and provide your readers with average content. If that’s the case, then change your mission statements to reflect that.

SCNI Chief Executive Michael Gebhart stated, “Journalists need to write, shoot video, post on the Internet and edit. The technological advances in the world of digital photography made this strategic move logical. How many photographers need dark room skills to develop film and make prints?” Excuse me? Developing film in the darkroom? What century are you living in? That’s like saying, “How many writers still use typewriters? When we went to word processors did we consider eliminating the writers? No! It’s not the tool; it’s how you use the tool.

The economy is still bad. We get that. Cuts have to be made. We get that too. But let’s be realistic about what we cut and how we go about embracing these changes to better the quality of journalism we are producing rather than slashing and burning without thinking about the consequence. By eliminating the photography staff of a newspaper, you have eliminated the professionals who know what a good image is and know how to produce them….especially on a local level…and isn’t that the audience you are trying to serve?

Suggestion: Look elsewhere within your structure….perhaps your national and international budgets. Does it make sense to send a correspondent or writer out of state or out of the country to file their stories anymore? I’m sure there are “serviceable” stories filed by the wires, who probably have a better handle on them anyway as they were on scene. And I’m sure most of the local community picking up your newspaper isn’t going to know, nor appreciate, the difference in bylines.

Put your emphasis on the local community you serve! That’s where your staff photographers (and writers) need to be their best….providing both visual and textual information that your readers want and pay for. Training your reporters to shoot iPhone images is not the answer. No more than asking the photographers to file your stories. There is a need for professional images and exclusive content that raises the level of your bar to excellent…not average.

The Chicago Sun-Times statement after laying off their entire photography staff read in part: “Today, The Chicago Sun-Times has had to make the very difficult decision to eliminate the position of full-time photographer, as part of a multimedia staffing restructure.” Noting that, “the business is changing rapidly” and audiences are “seeking more video content with their news.”

Wouldn’t it have made more sense to retrain or restructure what the staff photographer’s responsibilities would be to satisfy those rapid changes? Doesn’t it make sense to start with someone who has a professional understanding of photography rather than training writers and reporters who have none? I’m sure the photography staff would have embraced these changes and happily restructured what they do to meet the newspaper’s new needs. 

The local staff photographer has more than just industry knowledge. Sun-Times photographer John H. White had over thirty years of local knowledge and contacts in the community and dedicated most of his professional life to serving that community and the Sun-Times. When they cut him and their entire staff, they cut out the heart and soul of the newspaper’s visual voice.

So here’s the rub publishers and CEO’s. If you are happy with average…continue down that road to mediocrity. When it comes time for recognition of your newspaper by the Pulitzer committee and others, you won’t even be on their radar. But perhaps more important, you have done an incredible injustice to the community you serve. Your loyal readers know the difference between average and excellent. They deserve better!