I typically cover documentaries.
My grandmother gifted me a camera when I was 8 or 9. I remember thinking it was cool and then never using it. I didn’t really get into photography until I took a black-and-white film photography class in my third year at Binghamton University. I enrolled in other classes and workshops to learn lighting and documentary photography.
I wanted to tell stories in the Black community that were overlooked and ignored. Stories in under-represented communities are of great interest to me.
My first official assignment was photographing two politicians canvassing their neighbourhoods for an upcoming election. I learned the importance of writing strong captions and taking down the name of anybody I took a picture of.
The gymnastics project left the biggest mark on me because I worked on the story for a year. I became familiar with the young athletes and was able to watch them grow.
I like long-form stories where I get to return to the same place or same group of people to document them over time. I like noticing new details each time that together tell a well-rounded story.
My most important lesson has been to check my camera settings, charge my batteries and empty my memory card before every assignment. It sounds like common sense but sometimes we move so fast that the most basic tasks can be ignored.
Tell the stories that are important to you. Photograph in your own style, not what you think an editor wants to see. When you tell those stories, make sure you share them freely. If the story means something to you, it will have meaning for someone else.
I respect Gordon Parks the most. I read his autobiography recently and it was like witnessing a superhero gain their powers. I was amazed at his story and now have a greater respect and admiration for his work.
If photojournalism doesn’t diversify, it will become stale. In the future, there will also be a hybrid of photojournalism that includes video and audio more fluidly.