Category Advice & Learning

On Creativity

This piece from Photo District News on Claire Rosen’s book Imaginarium is worth some time, even if just for this one quote:

Our culture has shifted in such a way that it’s easier to be a consumer of content rather than having individual experiences.

Think about that as you work on your stories – what can you show that can’t be seen elsewhere? There is no point in making images like everyone else, the distribution model is such that you can’t compete with obvious imagery, you have to go where others are not.

Seeing Color in the Positive

My friend David LaBelle writes about meeting a shared hero, Gordon Parks, and one of his students who shares his vision.

Since my youth, I’ve always seen award winning photos that contained a person of color suffering. The positives are rarely shown. That has inspired me to attempt to change the narrative by photographing people of color in a positive light, via celebration or any other time their suffering is not being exploited.

The Value of Photo Editors

Nice piece over at National Geographic on the relationship between photo editors and photojournalists. This is a relationship we all need to understand, need to take advantage of and/or need to find for ourselves.

The Image, Deconstructed Workshop

High on my list of events I want to get to is The Image, Deconstructed Workshop out in Colorado:

THE IMAGE, DECONSTRUCTED workshop is an immersive weekend photographic experience. Attendees are welcome from all skills levels. The workshop will be held at The Denver Post in downtown Denver, Colorado.

Our faculty is comprised of award-winning leaders in the field. They will help attendees become more aware of their purpose and vision. Importantly, they can help demonstrate how to express this more effectively.

“I am not useful for my camera if I die.”

Karam Shoumali told the story of Syrian photojournalist Hosam Katan on The New York Times’ Lens blog a few months back, it’s worth reading to understand how Syrian journalists have covered and been affected by the war there.

Southwestern Photojournalism Conference Moves … East?

Yep, what has been in Texas for years is now in Nashville, Tennessee, February 15-17.

I’ve heard many great things about this event and, if I didn’t have a conflict, I would head there myself.

China’s 79-Year-Old Sports Photographer

Hong Nanli is my new sports photography hero and will be yours, too.

(Thanks to Mark Hertzberg for the link.)

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.