Category Advice & Learning

McCullin in Kolkata


Yes, this is a PR piece from Canon Europe. Yes, it’s designed to get you interested in spending many, many dollars on Canon gear.

But it’s Don McCullin talking about the way he makes images while he makes images in Kolkata.

Look Versus Feel

The New York Times’ Todd Heisler writes about covering tragic events like the church shooting in Texas.

Because of this, it is important to make images that go beyond grief and crime scenes. Step back. Give a sense of place. Show not just what a scene looks like but, more important, what it feels like. 

That last part – about making images that show what stories feel like … that’s the goal!, that’s always the goal. My friend Billy Weeks puts it this way: “Photos of something vs. photos about something.”

You can spend your career making photographs of things and, if you’re technically competent and reasonably personable, you can have a decent career I suspect. I’ll admit my early years fell into that category – I was a good photographer, always made a usable image and was easy to work with. I look back on some of those stories from the start of my career and I’m not always sure anyone would feel anything. They’d know what happened, but they might not care deeply about it. Lots of record shots, a recording of what was before me.

That’s where my students start because it’s where we all start. Master the mechanics, figure out the aesthetics, put it into practice in the field. Figure out what the story is, figure out who the story matters to, find the character that helps us understand and then make an image that will make an emotional connection, make someone who wasn’t there, who doesn’t know, feel something.

That’s the real challenge in photojournalism. It isn’t about getting sharp photos, it isn’t about getting proper exposures. It isn’t about having the right lens or the newer sensor or the better job at the bigger publication. Every time we raise a camera to our eye, regardless of who is before it or who will look at it, it is our responsibility to make an image that lets a viewer know what that moment feels like.

That’s when the power of photojournalism becomes ours,

Becoming an Insider

Dave Burnett / ON ASSIGNMENT on PBS 1982 from RelishMIX on Vimeo.

This is a wonderful interview from 35 years ago with David Burnett where he talks a bit about his experiences during the Iranian revolution and more on a package he did on Dallas during the reign of the TV show, Dallas.

I like to just hang out and let the initial ripples from the arrival in an area die down and maybe not even pick up a camera for ten minutes. And then, at a certain point, there’s a kind of understood empathy or vibe just something going on there, in the middle of a conversation or something you can usually just shoot a picture or several pictures and it’s something you have to feel … you’re always the outsider.

Ready for Anything

The Associated Press’ Lauren Easton talked with photojournalist Jacquelyn Martin about the photo of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the sheet of dollar bills not carrying his name.

We don’t orchestrate these things. As a photojournalist, I show up and photograph what happens in front of me. You really have to be ready for anything in Washington.

On Why Journalists Need Access

The Washington Post’s David Nakamura takes a look at the photo(s) posted by The New York Times’ Doug Mills of the presidents visit to Manila.

There is a lot to unpack here.

The History of Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier took the photographic community by storm several years ago, long after she had produced an astounding body of work.   Now, researcher Ann Marks has shared some of what she has learned with the Associated Press, shedding new light on Maude’s work

(Thanks to Susan Walsh for the lead.)

This Is Why I Can’t Have Nice Things …

I would be just like Roger Cicala at LensRentals.com.

Where are my screwdrivers …

Why You Stick to Your Workflow

As soon as I can after a shoot, I download my cards and back up the images into at least two places. Why? I am paranoid.

When I travel, I download and email or upload the best images to an online service, just in case something goes wrong. I teach my students this same thing.

A New York City photographer may want to evaluate his backup system – keeping the original cards and the hard drive used to back them up together can cause you some severe problems.


Reuters Launches Grant Program for Students

Reuters has developed a grant program to help photojournalists and photojournalism students advance their skills and tell stories that need to be told. There will be up to eight grants, each up to $5,000. The results of the projects will be distributed via Reuters’ photo service, as well.

Start writing. Deadline to apply is December 10.

The Unthreatened Give

Buried in this nice piece by Eric Minton on photographer Stephen Green is this brilliant quote about mentoring:

The most talented are the most giving; they are unthreatened, and they want you to get it right.

It’s true. As an educator, I bring photojournalists and editors in to my classroom and workshop spaces all the time. How I choose them isn’t a mystery – I choose them because I trust they will give back.

Visual journalism is a continuum, it existed before we started and it will exist after we leave. I tell my kids that knowledge isn’t theirs and the pros who get to work with my kids understand that.

(Thanks to Mark Hertzberg for the link.)