« More On Print(er) Sharpness | Main | Sean Penn Sentenced for Attack on Photographer »

Thursday, 13 May 2010


I'm tempted to add to his list:

11. Ego, large

(But that would be snarky.)

Painfully true, including #11. It's why I call myself a newspaper photographer.

Boy howdy. Mr. Garcia needs to go see someone like Don McCullin speak. Someone who's been in the game for decades and to whom the ghosts and monsters come in the night. Then, as #11, instead of the apt "Ego, large" suggested above perhaps he'd add the equally apt, and circumspect, "Humility." Or possibly even "Humanity."

Alex's photography is one of the few remaining bright spots in a rapidly dimming Chicago Tribune. When you see one of his images on a story (generally local small stories, as AP, Getty, Reuters get the bigger stories) it nearly always presents a nice scene and angle.

Out of pure coincidence, just yesterday (Wednesday) I spotted a fill shot by Alex and wondered how his blog was doing. So I discovered that, indeed, he'd moved it forward and the Trib was now hosting it. (I'm not confident that that's a good thing but he seems to think so.)

I'm not, have never been, and have no desire to ever be, a photojournalist. But I do encounter news and editorial snappers and Alex's list feels like good guidance.

I am tempted to take issue with Bob's suggestion that having an out-sized ego should be on the list. From my observation, it would be a strong impediment. News snappers most often need to suppress their egos to finesse their way past some human tree stumps to get the shots they need. Trying to intimidate or bully a bobo will generally fail; they don't care about your press badge.

So I suggest that item #11 in the list might actually be to be accomplished in the study of Zen Buddhism.

Hello Mike,

I think that this photo by David Turnley/Corbis says a lot about the subject at hand.


It's good to read tips like this. Reminds us that there's so much more to life than photography.

One of the things that continues to amaze me (who spent his working life as an office jockey) about photography in general (and I am sure it is doubly true for photojournalism) is how damn physically demanding it is to get good pictures. It may be art, but it sure as hell ain't effete art.

And here's me thinking that "a compassionate heart" would figure somewhere on the list. Color me naïve.

I think those are great rules for all photography and most likely for your non-photographic life, too. That is, of course, if you have a part of your life that is non-photographic.

Good journalism photography is an extreme sport. Both mentally and physically.

Ken (and others):

My suggestion that an out-sized ego should be part of the job was entirely ironic, offered as a comment on the other 10 items on the list.

I don't know the photographer in question, but I've worked as a reporter at various western US dailies for more than 30 years and have worked side by side with countless news photographers.

The best are not lone wolves who are so obsessed with winning contests that they dump their families.

The best photogs I've worked with tend to be quiet, curious and interested in other people. They blend into the background when need be, and can be aggressive, too, but only for a specific purpose.

The best of the best are people with values that guide not only their photography but their lives.

They often forget to enter contests.

The photographer who made that list sounds rather young to me. Perhaps he'll recover.


This is less in reference to Garcia's list than to the comments...Most newspaper photographers in my experience are a lot like reporters --convivial amongst their own, thoughtful, perhaps a bit wary. I think Garcia is not talking about most photographers, but only about the elite. The elite tend to see newspapers (or magazines, or whatever) as vehicles for them to do what they want, and a source of money, but not really as an employer or a director...at least no more than necessary to keep the job. And if a newspaper gets fed up with their independent ways, they move on. The very best often work for several outlets over their careers, because they are always focused on what *they* want to do, rather than what somebody else wants. Many newspaper staffs have a photographer who is really somewhat of a milquetoast, and who shoots a lot of portraits and mugs...but if you've got the double-murder hostage scene, you really want to send a guy who somehow thinks he's the most important element in the situation (that's the ego thing) because he's the guy who will come back with the shot that crushes the competition. Photographers like this are fairly uncommon. Maybe 20 in the US? (I just pulled that number out of the place where the sun don't shine; but it's not many.) You tend to see a lot from Australia and South Africa, I think...but I could be wrong about this. Maybe it just seems that way.


I'm no professional, but this myth of the lone wolf, personality maladjusted photojournalist has gone way too far. Starting 30 years ago with the Dennis Hopper character in the movie 'Apocalyse Now' or another in an old TV series whose name now slips my mind, who were probably based on one or two colorful characters in the trade in the Vietnam/Post Vietnam era, it would appear from this article that at least one of the current generation of PJs now actually believes that that type of personality is a necessary prerequisite to plying the trade successfully.

What preposterous piffle!

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007