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.