Ask A Pro
Director of photography
Examples of Work
Photo philosophy of The Santa Fe New Mexican
Reaching Out: Two Veteran Photojournalists Help Bosnian Newspapers
Photo: St. Michael's beats Bernalillo
Photo: The Sage of the Mora Valley
Photo: Post Office Protester
director of photography
The Santa Fe New Mexican
How did you get interested in photojournalism?
I was in college to get a degree in teaching. During my junior year my girlfriend (now wife) told me the college newspaper was advertising for a photo editor. I had a camera, was interested in photography and thought I would check it out. I met with the photo editor and found out that I needed a portfolio. We talked about the job and then the photo editor gave me some story ideas and told me to bring back the photos from the stories we had talked about. A week later I returned and we went over my photos. The managing editor liked my work and they offered me the position. The rest is history.
What do you carry in your photo kit?
- Two Nikon bodies (either film or digital)
- 20-35mm zoom lens
- 80-200mm zoom lens
- 60mm macro lens
- Extra batteries
How do you critique a colleague's work without making them feel bad? And what are the key elements you look for when deciding which photos go best with a story?
I respect photographers who ask me to critique their work. It’s not an easy thing for many photographers to do. I look for story telling moments. I try not to say, “This is bad work”. Instead, I ask how they went about covering the event and making photos. I want to know how a photographer thinks. My critique will help a photographer by me giving suggestion as to what they could have done to produce a better photograph. It is through this constructive discussion that the photographer will understand I am making suggestions that point out ways in which they could have produced better images.
The key elements I look for are story-telling images with impact that visually relay the essence (or provide supplemental/additional information) of the story being covered.
Many of the pictures in my school paper are of sports teams and other people in groups just staring at the camera. Everyone seems to think it's OK but me. They tell me that if it's good enough for the yearbook, it should be fine for the newspaper. Help!
Two words: documentary photojournalism.
In order to provide strong photographic images, a photographer has to understand the story. Groups of people mugging the camera are not the most interesting photographs.
The photo does cover the basics; who are these people and what do they look like? I look beyond that. I would ask the photographer to find out what these kids do and then make arrangements to photographically document what they do when they do it. Go beyond the ordinary. I would urge photographers to set their goals high, and work to improve every day.
Do you prefer film or digital photography?
I use film when I feel it best suites the story I am covering. Digital is great on deadline and sports.
Do photojournalists have to be good writers as well?
Writing skills are very important. All photographers must provide accurate and informative cut lines to accompany photographs. Potential employers will like the fact that a photographer has good writing skills in addition to photographic skills.