Thursday, April 5, 2012

Throwback Thursdays

This week's Throwback Thursday comes from the not too distant past, an Easter Egg Hunt I shot for the Valley Gazette in 2008. I loved this picture from the moment I took it. It reminds me of this:

Normally, I refrain from talking about my day job on this blog. It's no big secret: I work for a newspaper company. I started off in sales, just to get my foot in the door, but my real interest was to be a photographer for the paper. There was something special, almost magical about seeing your name in the paper under your photograph. My mother has saved every single one of my pictures that has run; she even laminates them, too. I'll be honest with you, in 2005, when I started, I didn't even have a digital camera. I was not good. It took a lot of time and practice and mentoring before I felt like I was any good at it. Finding an interesting image at often times boring events is not easy, nor is having to switch from creative mode to reporter mode to be able to document the names and ages of your subjects. To this day, I never really thanked the people that devoted their time and effort, gave me advice and helped me grow as a photographer. Thanks, guys.

I work for a newspaper company, and times have been hard. It definitely feels like we are a dinosaur. The shift into online media, the downfall of the economy has hit the business hard. I've been there for seven years, which is the longest job I've had so far in my life. Seven years and many different titles in several departments. I've made it through I don't know how many rounds of cutbacks at this point. None of them are easy, for anyone, but yesterday really hit home for me.

I don't shoot for the papers often anymore. Photography was one of the first cut backs, and with two staff photographers besides me, photography is not my main job, I gave up a lot. They expect the editors to take on a lot of the photography roles to keep costs down. I understand, but I haven't been happy in the decline of quality over the past few years. Anyone can take a picture. Digital cameras have changed photography forever. I definitely benefit from a lot of those changes. Just because someone can use a camera, doesn't mean they know how to take a picture. I'm not trying to sound elitist here, and I do my best to be down to earth on this blog. In my opinion, it's undeniable that some people see things differently than others. They are creative, they capture the moments better, they know their equipment so well they can shoot without thinking and get a good result in any situation. It takes years to be that good. I'm still getting better at it myself. I'd never be able to do an editor's job and report on budgets, keep up with breaking news or fill a 20 page paper every week. It's not what I do.

Our staff photographers were cut yesterday. I've seen it happening all over the place; CNN dropped about 200 of them over the past couple of months. If readers will submit photos for free, why have photographers on staff? To me, it's about quality. I don't see the shots that used to inspire me growing up. There's no magic in it anymore, and I don't think that's because I've been doing it for seven years. It's why I've been branching out and trying to find a subject for my own photography that continues to challenge me. I want that passion back.

This was one of my early shots for the paper. It's not anything I'm proud of today, except for the fact that it was the first picture that one of the other photographers complimented me on. He pulled me aside at work and said, "The look of joy you captured on that little boy's face? That's what it's all about."

It just saddens me so much to see that caliber of skill and talent gone. The future does not look bright. The arts are slowly dying.

How long until we become an extinct dinosaur?


  1. Nice post Audra. It's sad where photography is going these days. It's definitely starting to feel like the #1 qualification for being a "professional photographer" is that your physically capable of clicking a shutter (and have enough room on your BestBuy card to buy a camera). I remember when the papers would show up at events I was covering. There would always be a reporter asking questions and photographer taking pictures. However, I covered an event the other day where the reporter was the one taking pictures... with a compact point and shoot camera. In bad light :)

    We should get together soon. Before things get crazy!

  2. Beautifully said Audra. I know of cuts this week, but did not hear about any of the photographers.  I am really sorry.