Long-term documentary projects.
I learned to photograph at journalism school and through summer internships at newspapers. That said, I’m still learning!
My interest in photography came from my interest in history. As a kid, it was my favorite subject and I would read any book about history that I could get my hands on. I was initially attracted to the idea that as a photojournalist, I could witness history as it happens. Since then, I’ve come to realize that what drew me to history was people’s stories. At its core, photojournalism is about telling stories. It allows me into people’s lives and gives me the privilege of showing what it means to be human.
My first memorable assignment was a story on a beekeeper in my intro to photojournalism class. We were allowed to pick any topic we wanted, and I chose honeybees. It was really fun, but on the last day I was stung multiple times, including once on my eye. My photojournalism professor was so proud.
The stories and assignments that excite me the most are ones that allow me to spend a lot of time working on them. I don’t like the idea of parachute journalism. I believe you are a person before you are a photographer and I enjoy getting to know the people I’m photographing. I think it’s important because it fosters a collaborative relationship and builds trust. If I’m asking someone to share the most intimate moments of their life with me, I want them to know that I don’t take it lightly.
Photojournalism forces people to see. It’s hard to ignore a photograph even if it makes you uncomfortable. I think the best photographs bridge the gap that divides people, build empathy and make people question what they believe.
I wouldn’t say I have a particular audience in mind when I’m photographing. I don’t really think like that. I just try to photograph in a way that is true to the situation and tells the story.
I have a tendency to get anxious before I embark on a shoot, sometimes to the point that my hands shake. On the drive over, I’ll worry about whether I’ll be able to capture frames I like, what the light will be like and if I’ll have the access I need. Over the years, I’ve learned to slow down and try to worry less, especially about factors I can’t control. Rather than start shooting immediately, I’ve learned to take deep breathes and truly look at a scene before I start working.
Shoot stories you care about. It sounds simple but when you care about something, it shows in your work.
I think photojournalism will always have a place in the world. I hope the shift in the news media will help make photojournalism more accessible and allow people to document their own stories.