Here’s one of the first photos I shot for The Grand Island Independent, which was published Feb. 5, 2000.
As of this week, I’ve been at the Grand Island Independent for 10 years. I never thought that I’d be here this long. Ten years ago, fresh from several internships in Indiana and Michigan, I came out to Nebraska for my first full-time, benefit laden j-o-b. I had made it. I was an adult. I had a career. And this place was going to be a stepping stone. I’d be here 2-5 years and then I’d be off to a bigger better paper. And then from there off again to where I’d be for the rest of my career.
That plan never materialized. Life, the industry and the economy got in the way. Some things happened and others didn’t. Along the way I’ve learned a lot. Mostly I learned I can’t change the world. I can’t even budge it an inch if I really, really try and lift with my legs. What I did learn is I can have an impact in this little corner of it. I can show the good in people. That across color and culture lines we have more in common than not. That we have a shared sense of humanity and good in the world. That when asked we’ll come together to help anyone in need. And that’s a good thing, to quote Martha Stewart.
The paper is a lot different that ten years ago. When I came here, I had my trusty film bodies: a Nikon N90s and an FM2 as backup with three to four lenses. I took out a loan to buy a 300mm 2.8 manual focus lens and a used light kit. After a few years, I added an F4s to the mix. A couple of years later we transitioned into digital. My hands didn’t smell like developer, bleach and fixer when I go home. (I secretly miss that a little bit.) Digital has allowed me to stay at an assignment longer and turn the images around faster. I can post images to the web immediatly after something happened. That’s better for us as a paper and an industry as well as for readers. Going digital has improved aspects of my photography like portraiture because I can immediately see lighting effects and adjust accordingly.
Regardless of what tools I’ve got in my hand, what hasn’t changed is my commitment to telling the stories of people around me. And that is what really matters in photojournalism. Ultimately it’s not about me as a photographer, but the subject. I’m privileged to be able use my vision and skill to tell their story.
Robert Pore asked me today if I was going to be around in ten years. Well…. I just don’t know.
Thanks Independent. Thanks Grand Island.
Enough deep stuff. Here’s a couple of pictures from my first month back in February 2000.
This one really ticked off one of my bosses at the time. (It was published on the front page within a week of my start date.) He hated the photo because there was no face, it was a weird angle, and it was too close to being a silhouette. I thought it worked for capturing the story about the weather in February. It was really warm and this kid was playing basketball outside on a beautiful day in short sleeves.
And a last one. Well, I just like it. It was a couple of weeks after the last one.