Monday, January 29, 2007

A Remarkable Photograph

This is a remarkable photograph of a Kastle keycard being used at a Kastle wall panel. The photograph was published on the front page of yesterday's Washington Post Business Section, and the story continued on into the inside of the paper, where another photograph appeared after the jump. At first blush, it appears simple, ordinary, and otherwise posed. Similarly, the inside photo is comparable, of two executives standing facing one another in (probably) the lobby of their offices. What is not, however, ordinary, is who took the photographs. The photographer is Carol Guzy, probably the single greatest winner of photographic competitions for as long as I can remember, and an amazing visual communicator, someone who will be remembered past her time for the work she produced. Someone who has traveled the globe documenting famine, suffering, and the triumph of the human spirit.

So, why is this legendary photojournalist taking a photo such as this? That is precisely why it is remarkable. Because it's a part of what all newspaper photographers are called upon to do, document the ordinary from time to time. Not every photograph is an award winner, let alone even viable to enter a contest, nor should they be. Many many photographs taken by many many photographers illustrate a story, sometimes in a very straightforward way. This photograph is remarkable for what is is not, and for the fact that it was a living legend producing the image. It illustrates the point that we all are called upon to produce images that fill the day-in and day-out assignment sheets.

I often am called upon to produce images akin to this. Of course, there are images which are produced for magazine covers, inside features, and the like. Yet, so too do requests for straightforward images that simply and succinctly illustrate something without fanfare, or international implications. Yet many an aspiring photojournalism student sees the contest winning images, often times from far away places, and dreams that if only they too could be in that land at that time, they too could catch a break that would catapult them to stardom. Thus, they neglect the production of the images that will fill more of their assignment logs than they'd like to think about. The high school player of the week, the pet of the month, and, yes, the PR-looking image for the front of the business section of an electronic passcard system.

Every photographer produces images that vary from the monumental to the mundane. It is approaching each assignment with as much enthusiasm as possible that makes the work worthwhile. It is accepting that there is a fair ebb and flow to the assignment types that we all receive. It must not always be the global hot spot, or the peaking politician, or the major celebrity that we are called upon to photograph. We all experience a mix, every last one of us.

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rudevalley; musings on the rudeness of Silicon Valley said...

Thanks for this post. It is a reminder that as photographers we are tasked with chronicling the world around us, which can be mundane and downright boring, if we let it. The trick is not to let it become boring by constantly challenging ourselves. Somehow, I suspect that Carol Guzy does that too, as well as Annie, and all of the greats. We make that choice each time we pick up our camera. Can we always produce award-winning photos each time? Probably not, but picking up our cameras is the key. Thanks for your perspective on this!

Laura J. Bergerol

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