Sports and spot news.
My earliest memory of photography is of when my parents got me a disposable camera for Christmas when I was eight years old. In our family we open our gifts Christmas Eve. My parents told me to be patient because there were only 12 frames in the roll of film. I of course did not listen to them and by Christmas morning I was out of film.
I was a darkroom nerd in high school. I was obsessed with the process of developing and printing images. I just couldn't get enough of it. I would spend 4-5 hours in there after school, teaching myself new techniques I had learned on the Internet.
I have always loved photography and knew very early on that I wanted to be a photographer. However there was one experience that made me want to become a photojournalist. It was my freshmen year at Loyola and I had the opportunity to spend a evening with photographer Alex Brandon. We were hanging out in the newsroom when a report of a fire came over the scanner. We ran to his car and drove like a bat out of hell to get to the scene. When I saw the photo in the paper the next day I said to myself, this is what I want to do.
My first real assignment was for Reuters. My good friend Sean Gardner needed an extra shooter for the SEC basketball tournament. We had 11 games in four days and we were using six cameras set up all around the court. I remember the assignment very well because at one of the games player Anthony Davis, who was with Kentucky at the time, came crashing into me taking out a pocket wizard and all the sudden we were down to one camera. It was crazy!
Covering hurricane Isaac left the biggest mark on me. Before I had really only covered sports. Isaac gave me the opportunity to tell stories and share what I was seeing. It was very emotional to see lives destroyed. It was the first time I truly felt my work was meaningful. I felt it was playing an important role in letting others know the struggle of the people who were affected by the storm.
I truly love this job because it is different every time. One day you could be photographing old people playing pickle ball and the next day you could be photographing the president.
Everywhere you look you see photographs whether it is in a newspaper or an advert on the side of a bus. I truly believe in the power of photography and photojournalism to me is the best platform to tell a story.
I honestly don't have an audience in mind. I just try to photograph what I am seeing at the moment.
I cannot tell you how much I have learned from fellow photographers. Every photographer does one thing that is completely genius. Even as simple as putting all your light stands and umbrellas in a hard case traveling golf bag. I would have never thought to do that.
My advice to a photojournalist starting now would be photograph an event in your town that you know the local newspaper will cover. Compare your images to the photos taken by the photographer covering the event. I can't tell you enough how much I learned from doing this exercises. Trying to compete is a humbling experience. You will learn a lot!