I cover breaking news, feature stories, entertainment and sports.
My father was also a photographer for many years, so some of my earliest memories of photography are of him developing film in the bathroom at home.
I became involved with photography in high school, where I worked with the school’s yearbook and newspaper, the High Tide. They had made the jump to digital publication, something that created a lot of opportunities for quick feedback and learning. My in-depth education developed further during my time at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism program.
One of my first assignments was for my high school’s basketball coach, who needed photos of each of the players for the school’s guide. At the time it was a challenge just trying to overcome the technical issues and poor lighting in the gymnasium with equipment that wasn’t the best, and getting good action at the same time. I have grown a lot since then.
The assignment that left the biggest mark on me personally was covering the aftermath of the Joplin, Missouri tornado in May 2011. The EF5 tornado crushed nearly a third of the city and left the tangled remains of cars and trucks overturned and thrown against buildings and trees. Some blocks were reduced to jagged mounds of debris, while others were stripped completely empty – just foundations of homes and tree trunks with no leaves, no branches, and no bark. Over 160 lives were lost. While I was there, it was inspiring to see such a strong spirit of hope, midwestern love and selflessness, as volunteers and those with something left shared what they had with those who had lost their homes. Working as a photojournalist to document what was happening was important, I think, as the attention we brought spurred donations of supplies, money, and other resources to help the community rebuild.
The stories that excite me the most are the ones where I get to cover things that are developing in real time - for example the manhunt for the renegade ex-policeman Christopher Dorner, the wildfires in California, or the Space Shuttle landing. During assignments like these, things are happening and you are working to capture them as they change. This requires you to figure out what’s going on for yourself, as well as coordinating with editors and reporters for information.
I keep in mind that my audience is not limited to just one small community – it’s the entire world. I want to show this broad set of viewers things that they might not have noticed themselves, even if had they had been there in person.
My biggest lesson has been understanding the importance of working really hard to break away from the pack and deliver an image that is different from everyone else’s. Sometimes you really have to take a moment to pause and figure out what is going on and how to make an image of it in your own way.
In the current media climate, a lot of organisations have scaled back and are focusing on just the core essentials. What makes my job possible and successful is not just me and my equipment; it’s the existence of a company like Reuters and my editor here in Los Angeles, Sam Mircovich, who pushes me and gives me more opportunities to find great images and get out to cover stories early.