“A career in photography is an exercise in tenacity.”
Photographer Joe McNally
“Increasingly we are seeing web-based, niche publications sprouting up.”
Photographer David Hobby (on life after newspapers)
After a four days of doing camerawork in Chicago this week I was able to stop in Madison, Wisconsin on my way back to Iowa Friday to catch a photography seminar put on by Joe McNally and David “the Strobist” Hobby. Both have been career photojournalist, McNally’s portfolio includes National Geographic covers and Hobby spent 20 years with the Baltimore Sun.
Perhaps because traditional photojournalism (like soap opera acting) is not exactly a growth industry these days, both McNally and Hobby have added blogging and educating to their resumes which in turn has brought them higher visibility and more photography work—while at the same time taking the combined wisdom of more than 55 years of shooting experience that those two men have and passing their knowledge to other shooters.
Because one of my first paid opportunities in media production was working as a sports writer/photojournalist for a small newspaper when I was 19-years-old, I have a soft spot for photojournalism. Photography has paid many bills for me over the years and I’ve learned a lot from McNally’s books The Hot Shoe Diaries and The Moment it Clicks.
Hobby has started a site called HoCo360 which is “A Visual Journal of Howard County, Maryland” where he lives and serves as a platform to highlight stories within the local community that newspapers used to cover widely before that era began to decline. It’s simply another version of regional storytelling. An another example of an artist becoming more of an entrepreneur.
Both McNally and Hobby are passionate about their craft and it was a day well spent. And though this is a screenwriting blog, I think of photographers as spiritual cousins to screenwriters in many ways. Not just in being visual storytellers, but belonging to that tribe of artists whose heart beats to develop one’s craft, to find stories worth telling, and at the same time trying to put food on the table.
So I pulled this quote from a talk McNally gave when he spoke at Google back in 2008:
“I”ve never had steady employment. I’ve been fired from almost every job I’ve ever had…Started freelancing ’81 and since then I’ve had a lot of lives. That’s what a career on photography does for you, or to you, or with you. You have these career paths that seem to go in one direction for a while and all of a sudden shift in a radical shift in a different way. I have a shooter friend Chris Carter and one of his favorite things to say is, ‘If you endeavour to be a photographer you need to make uncertainty your friend.'”
Speaking at Google
I think most creative people understand the need to, “make uncertainty your friend.” Doesn’t mean you have to like it, but it can help you cope with life after you’ve joined the circus.
If you happen to be in Chicago on Sunday or St. Louis on Monday (4/17-18/11) you can catch McNally and Hobby on the tail end of their Flashbus Tour (if it isn’t sold out).
P.S. The above photo was not taken by McNally or Hobby, but one I took under River Run Productions for a hospital. (Hey, they have their own copyrights…and I have my own work to pimp.) But both have been a positive influence in my work. And they’ve also influenced my photographer/cameraman friend Stephen Holm who took the photo of me with the scripts on the about page, and who happens to be at the Minneapolis McNally/Hobby seminar today.