It was 1948. One aspiring actress tagged along with a couple of filmmaker friends, and ended up taking some of the most iconic photos the world has ever seen: black and white portraits of Albert Einstein. It had such an effect, she instead pursued photography, going on to take portraits of world leaders, and enjoying a career in photojournalism spanning many decades.
Over 56 million acres of land in the United States is owned and controlled by approximately 500 Native American tribes that received federal recognition and sovereign land from the U.S. government. Living on this land, although a blessing, has made us invisible to the public eye. In addition to the geographical invisibility, our history, modern culture, and social issues have been swept under the rug for decades by mainstream media and the U.S. government. They typically stay out of the reservations altogether, but unfortunately, people can't fix a problem unless they view it with their own eyes, after all, "seeing is believing." This is the reason our own cameras are crucial to healing our indigenous communities.
On November 13, a North Korean soldier defected through the demilitarized zone, eventually being shot 5 times by fellow North Korean soldiers before lying about 55 yards over the border, where he was dragged to safety by South Korean sergeants 40 minutes later. This video from the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission shows the harrowing escape from start to rescue.
The essence of channeling your inner muse to create amazing photo-journalistic images requires a very specific mindset. Here are a few tips I've learned on perfecting your photojournalism skills to create more powerful intentional images, and these tips can be adapted in other forms of photography to fit your purpose.
When I photograph events, I do my best to become a “fly on the wall.” I try to stay out of the way, to be unobtrusive, to not affect what’s happening around me and just document what I see. To be a photographer in the White House and be a fly on those walls — surrounded by high stress, classified this and that, diplomats, dignitaries, tragedies, and achievements, while being charged with capturing all of it, 24/7/365 — would obviously be a job that would take all you’ve got. And to do it for not one, but two presidents? That’s nuts. But there’s one guy who did it. His name is Pete Souza.
A photojournalist is often called upon to photograph a scene at a moment’s notice. It can be a car accident one day, a music festival, the next and a protest the day after. With that in mind, there are two useful lenses that every photojournalist should carry in their bag to cover such a diverse range of photographic opportunities.
A few months ago, I took an overnight bus from Pokhara, Nepal, to Kathmandu. Arriving at five in the morning was not a part of the plan; nor was losing a night’s worth of sleep to dangerous curves, heavy rainfall, imminent landslides, and music that blared until shortly before arrival in the city. When I got there, I wasn't in too pleasant of a mood.
My heart sank when I first saw the headline that a photographer had been shot by a police officer because his gear was mistaken for a weapon on a rainy night. I didn't want to open the story because I knew it would instill some more fear in my own work while shooting around law enforcement and other potentially dangerous situations. After finally reading the news story, my curiosity led me straight to Andy Grimm's social media to see who he was. I only had to spend a few seconds on his Facebook page to realize that unlike the tragedy that struck him on the stormy night of September 4, his story was pretty beautiful and inspiring.
Being a photojournalist in the U.S. Air Force, there are often some pretty interesting opportunities to cover situations and events that most other photographers I know would probably never find themselves in. When new opportunities come up, there are usually two big questions to ask. One is, am I prepared for this? The other is, how do I even shoot this?