What stories stick out?
There are so many amazing stories that I have covered over the past 23 years that I barely know where to begin. It seems that my most memorable assignments have also been the most physically challenging. Covering President Obama's first inaugural was a remarkable experience for the historical context as well as the photos. The day of the actual inauguration was bitterly cold, involved walking many miles lugging huge amounts of heavy equipment and finding out when I arrived at my photo position that it had been changed and I was forced to run around looking for cable to extend my hard line back to the Tribune. The day started at 2am and ended about the same time the next day. I don't regret for one moment the extra years it took off my lifespan.
The two months I spent traveling through Africa with former Tribune African bureau chief Paul Salopek were mind-expanding. I shared an outhouse in South Sudan with a poisonous snake and too many scorpions to count. I wasn't sure if I was more frightened of the outhouse or the tsetse flies that caused African Sleeping Sickness, the story that brought us into the war-ravaged region. The Antonov bombers overhead weren't even bothersome to me with everything to worry about on the ground.
There was another two months spent in the Amazon with former reporter Bill Mullen. I was felled almost immediately by a stomach parasite that came and went all through the trip. Peru, it turns out is a good place to get ill, one can purchase most anything from Inka Pharma including Cipro for a fraction of the price in the U.S.
Iran was one of the most interesting countries to visit. I was staying in a hotel destroyed by a massive earthquake sharing a room plagued with giant cracks in the wall with former reporter Kim Barker and our translator Taraneh. Every morning men in suits would show up and claim that they were there to fix our toilet but we were sure they were bugging our room. There were regular after shocks that opened up the cracks more each day.
How did you get into this field, and why do you stay?
What other job could one person have so many different adventures and meet so many people from the richest most powerful to the poorest and most powerless?
I’ve often admired – and can instantly recognize – your photos because of how they capture the most fleeting but honest facial expressions of the subjects. Are you looking for moments of honesty like that? Can you prepare for them? What elements do you try to build into your images?
Whether I am shooting photos at a Chicago City Council meeting or in the South Sudan the actual work of shooting photos is the same. I try and arrive at a scene and look carefully at everything going on and at the faces of the people in the room or area. If I am in a portrait situation I try and chat with people to loosen them up. If I am in someone's office I can ask them about photos or items that they have on their desks and it usually gets them talking and relaxes them.
Occasionally I encounter a person who is extremely difficult but that is rare. The playwright John Guare was one of the difficult ones as was the actor David Spade and Princess Fergie. Those difficult moments are trying at the time but worth it for the stories I can tell for years afterwards.
Curious about how the Tribune does what it does? Have a tip? Email us at TribNation@tribune.com.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun