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Carrying Photojournalism’s Practices to the Marketplace

Posted by rak2mf on September 12, 2008

As soon as I stepped foot in the session, it was clear that I should have gotten there earlier. I was one of the many that didn’t actually have a seat, as people piled in excitedly, resorting to lining the back walls.

I should have anticipated the immense popularity of this event with such amazing photographers speaking—Brian Smith, Jean Shifrin, Jennifer Loomis, and Mark Petty (and when we found out each only had 17 minutes to present, I admit I was a little disappointed and would probably be left wanting to hear and see more).

Not only did they cover the basics and valuable lessons for future photojournalists, but each speaker also gave us a taste of their world and immersed us in their lives and differing careers.

With each speaker brought new aspects of photojournalism I had never seen nor considered before, and I can honestly say that I was moved by much of their work.

We went from seeing Smith’s favorite assignment from Sports Illustrated about nudist golf (I am still having some difficulty getting those images out of my head) to Shifrin’s photos capturing the lives of everyday people to make personalized family albums.  Then Loomis brought us over to her career as a studio photographer depicting the beauty of the pregnant nude, where her motto is “feel beautiful.”  And finally, we viewed Petty’s astonishing work with leprosy patients at a hospital in Carville, La.

Despite each of their vastly differing lifestyles and careers, they all stressed a few main messages that they seemed to agree are key for all photojournalists. First, and arguably most important, photojournalism is more than simply taking photos—it’s about making photos by working with and getting to know your subject.

In each of the speakers I saw that they truly love what they are doing, and they emphasized that it’s critical for photojournalists to shoot what they are passionate about if you want to succeed in this business.

I believe that a lot of what they suggested can be applied to all fields of journalism, and I left definitely feeling empowered by their example. 

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