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.