A look back at 2015 as seen through my eyes. Continue reading
It arrived in July of 2012. A white box marked “Priority Mail.” My oldest sister, Gregi, had sent it to me. I opened it with the anticipation every picture editor feels when they start to see the first frames … Continue reading
Yesterday was my last day working for a newspaper and company that I have been with for the past 31 years of my life —
I am one of the “One Hundred” that took the buyout that was offered in December of last year. I refer to us as the “Class of 2014”, which included notable colleagues Labor reporter Steven Greenhouse, Energy reporter Matt Wald, Editors Ethan Bronner and Charles Strum, Photographers Fred R. Conrad, Chester Higgins Jr., Ruby Washington, Ozier Muhammad and who can forget Barton Silverman — if you know the man, you know what I mean.
There are many, many more I came to respect and love over the years; forgive me for not naming you in this post.
I was asked to stay on until the end of March, which I am very grateful for. One dear colleague, Grace Wong, jokingly called me the “last man standing.”
I came to The New York Times in 1984 at the very young age of 26. I was one of the youngest staff photographers ever hired as most colleagues back then were older and had worked for/at larger institutions.
Last Friday, my fellow colleagues gave me my sendoff. We gathered in the newsroom near my workstation and Michele McNally, the Director of Photography, read to all who attended a short list of my accomplishments which included highlights of my 16 year career as a staff photographer and the past 15 years as a picture editor.
Then it was my turn.
I believe my farewell speech was a balance of humor and serious reflection. Those who came up to me afterwards thanked me and told me they appreciated what I had to say.
There were several that especially liked the part that I am going to share with you in this posting, as one colleague told me, she was so glad that I voiced it, thinking she was the only one that felt that way.
For thirty-one years, my stomach would form a knot in it as I approached the front doors of The New York Times. My mind, that little voice that I have spent so much time working to enlighten and calm through my Buddhist meditation practices, would say to me, “ What if something big happens today and you don’t know how to handle it?”
A transformation would take place as I made my way through the doors, up the elevator to my desk/workspace and started to interact with my colleagues, managers and friends. And many years ago it dawned on me that I was surrounded by many intelligent and wise people who shared the same goals and ideals as I — to gather and present to our readership the most interesting news packaged in the most creative way, be it print, digital or mobile.
If that something big happened, I knew I could turn to my colleagues for help. We were all in this together, which gave me great comfort.
My secret was out.
My Buddhist Lama, Lama Surya Das, once gave a teaching many years ago:
“ Pain is inevitable, Suffering is optional. You are at choice in every moment of your life.”
I came to realize that the pain I felt every day in my stomach was the physical manifestation of how much I cared about my work, the product and this company. I take great pride in what I did for The New York Times, whether shooting a simple mug shot, or being part of the White House Press Corps, as I was for eight great years.
As my departure date approached, I had time to sit and reflect on my career and the amazing things that I have witnessed, either as a photographer or an editor.
The summits between former Soviet leader Gorbachev with both Presidents Reagan and Bush; the Iran-contra affair; the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings; the national political campaigns of Geraldine Ferraro, Dan Quayle, Jesse Jackson, George H.W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton. Two Olympics, the Winter games in Calgary, Alberta Canada (1988) and the Summer games in Atlanta (1996). Five Super Bowls, the NCAA’s Final Four.
I could never forget my time in war-torn Bosnia at the end of that conflict; Its effect on me was so profound I converted to Buddhism in order to seek answers to the pain it caused me.
In my 15 years as a picture editor there were many stories. I only need to offer two of them — the attacks of 9-11 and the financial crisis, aka The Great Recession.
Those two “Somethings” were challenging enough — and we, as a team, got through them.
So now what?
Well, I have several irons in the fire.
My “retirement” from The New York Times is with a lowercase “r.” I took the buyout because I qualified for early retirement and the package offered was simply too good to pass up.
I’m grateful for the advice and support that my wife, Caitlin Kelly, offered as we contemplated this decision, deciding together this was the best thing for us as a couple of award-winning creative career journalists with many adventures ahead.
I’m actively seeking a new job and I am confident that I’m going to not only land, but that the next chapter of my life will be with a company/institution/organization that will appreciate the talent I have to offer, the wisdom I bring, the experience and the news judgment I possess.
I also bring a sense of humor and the ability to connect with people of all levels of skill to bring out their best.
Call me: 914-419-7495 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
My colleague Niko Koppel, right, working with one of his participants.
This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of participating in The New York Times Portfolio Review, which was started by The New York Times Lens Blog editor James Estrin and is held every year in conjunction with the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
In the course of meeting the twelve photographers during my seven-hour shift, I was happy, surprised, stunned, encouraging, tough, bi-lingual, and then my last participant made me cry.
This is the second year that I have been asked to be a part of this and it is amazing to walk into a large room and see what appeared to me, to be over 100 photographers–all ages, color, shapes and sizes–on the first day of two days, visibly excited to be a part of this exercise.
Photo editors, Directors, Gallery curators sit with and look at the work of these photographers that have gone through a selection process to be here.
Of the twelve photographers that I met with, I’m going to share three of the exchanges that I had. I asked each participant for their permission to photograph them and to be able to use their story from our interaction as well as their quotes. Each one of them consented.
Muema, with that fabulous smile of his.
“LETS START WITH YOU.”
Muema was an impressive young man whose handshake was strong. After exchanging “Hello’s”, he sat down at my table and started to unpack his prints, taking them out of the portfolio carton that they were in. He was talking a mile a minute.
He started with his vision, his project, his passion for photography and then, I stopped him.
“Let’s start with you. Tell me a little about yourself.” I asked him. “Anything you want too, but who are you?”
He looked stunned. His eyes blinked a few times as he stared at me. It was as if I had short-circuited his brain.
After a few seconds, he started to laugh and he confessed to me, “ I didn’t plan for that question.”
He took a breath and eased into who he was, how he LOVES photography and doing his projects and stories, but he realized a long time ago that the business–photojournalism– was headed into a direction that he could not afford to support himself with. So he works in technology at a job that HAS a future and that is how he feeds and houses himself. It’s also how he pays for his photo projects.
“Smart man,” I told him.
Then he surprised me.
He pulled out a set of serious high tech headphones, plugged them into an old ipod, turned on the music, then said to me, “the only way to view this portfolio is to experience the music as well.”
I went along for the ride.
He had a wonderful portfolio of pictures that show people at dance clubs, taken from around the world. There were people who through the rhythm and movement, were being transported to a higher form of consciousness.
Call me a sucker….but I was impressed. I listened to the electronic dance music as I turned print after print. What a pleasure.
The “Charles Kuralt” of Photojournalism
I had the pleasure of meeting Washington based freelance-photojournalist Pete Marovich who has been in this business as long as I have. We are very close in age.
I recently completed a project entitled “Thirty@30, hopefully not –30–“ and he was kind enough to chime in often and offer his comments about the images that I posted from my portfolio.
We met on Facebook. He sent me a book of his work that he self-published and the thing that struck me about his work was this. This is a photographer who knows HOW to use every lens in his bag.
Too often, young photographers today keep the equivalent of a 20mm lens on their cameras at all times. There is little or no variety of perspective in their portfolio. Not Pete.
What I love about Pete’s work is that it reflects a level of wisdom and knowledge that he has accumulated over his years not only behind the lens, but his time as a picture editor and director of photography as well.
I believe being a picture editor has also helped me to become a better photographer.
So as we settled into our seats, I looked at him and simply asked him, “At this stage of the game in your life, what is it that you want to do?”
“I want to become the Charles Kuralt of photojournalism.”
I loved that answer and at that moment, here we were, two seasoned photojournalists sharing a moment in which both of us KNEW who Charles Kuralt was. (For those of you who don’t, Google him.)
Pete showed me work that he recently completed in the Gullah Geechee communities of Ten-Mile, Sol Legare, Hilton Head, Daufuskie and Sapelo islands of South Carolina.
I want to give Pete what I consider, the highest compliment that I once got myself. I once worked a story and one of the people responsible for giving me permission and access to the subject said to me, “We never saw you, we never heard you and ‘POW’…there are all these beautiful images. You were invisible. How did you do it?”
As we looked at the images on his laptop, it was clear to me that the residents of this community have accepted him into their world.
Pete, I’m not sure that Charles Kuralt got the kind of access that you have worked so hard to achieve on this and other stories that you have shot. Stop wanting. Keep shooting. You’re there and I think you’re better looking than Kuralt!
“ I wanted to meet you because you have been to Bosnia. I was 12 years old in 1995 and I survived the war. I knew you would understand.”
She sat in the chair in front of me and with those words I froze. We just stared at each other for the longest time. Her brown eyes never blinked. I fought back tears.
Dijana Muminovic was the last photographer on my list to meet that afternoon.
This is a young photojournalist who came to this country in 1997 with her family, who were fortunate to escape the atrocities of war torn Bosnia. She grew up in Zenica.
Dijana and her family settled in Bowling Green, KY where she became an American and eventually she ended up getting a degree in photojournalism from Western Kentucky University. She is currently finishing her graduate degree from the University of Ohio in Athens and will graduate in July.
We talked about her past, her future, her hopes. I offered what advice I could in regard to jobs, contacts, etc.
She showed me a project that she had shot for the Alexia Foundation in which she returned to her former homeland in 2010 to document the volunteers that were attempting to locate and dig up the mass graves in and around Lake Perucac, near the city of Visegrad.
This from the text of her project, which I have linked too:
“My whole body was shaking. Is it possible that at such a beautiful location we were searching for bodies of those killed and thrown in the lake two decades ago? This book is a memory, not only of Visegrad, Lake Perućac and those who still lay beneath the water, but it’s a memory of those who, regardless of weather conditions, searched to find bodies. It was the most humane act I’ve ever seen where people all over the country participated. Perućac became one of the most significant locations and stories of my life.”
She was right. We did have a connection and I told her that one of the things that I have never understood is this. How is it that her former country is one of the most beautiful locations I have ever visited on this earth and it harbors such evil?
I use the present tense as we both compared notes that things in Bosnia are starting to simmer again. She told me that it’s still a battle among the Bosnians. There are those who can’t let go and want to remember everything about the war. And there is the younger generation, who want to move forward.
When it came time to end our meeting, I told her that if she ever decides to return to Bosnia to teach photography to the next generation of young Bosnian’s. Let me know. I would be happy to work for her on such a project.
Thank you to James Estrin, David Gonzalez, Whitney Boyd and Matt McCann for including me in this years Review. Thank you to all my NYT colleagues, especially Michele McNally and Beth Flynn who were there on Saturday.
All images copyright 2014/Jose R. Lopez.
All images shot on an Iphone 4S using the Hipstamtic app. I’m an old “photo-dog” learning the new technology. The exception is the “selfie” with Pete Marovich.
More information about the Portfolio review can be found here:
Thirty@30, hopefully not -–30—
This one is long.
I’m having a hard time letting go of this project.
I have this folder on the desktop of my laptop entitled “Thirty@30 project.” Every night, I opened the folder and saw the posts lined up, each one numbered, ready to be published. I read and re-read the next day’s post making sure my facts were as accurate as possible, checking sources, spelling, etc.
Now as I sit on the sofa in our apartment writing this final post, I’m sad to see that there is only one more post left — the one you’re reading right now.
When I started this project, I had no idea it was going to become as popular as it has; or that my colleagues and friends across the world would read my posts with the interest that they have shown.
Let me just say that I have heard the collective voice calling out for a book. I will approach the powers to be at The New York Times and ask if this is possible. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know.
I asked you here today so that you can bookmark this link as this is where I will be posting an occasional blog, I may even continue with more images from my portfolio and their stories, as well as current work. I am open to your suggestions, comments, and thoughts. This is my way of saying, “follow me.”
You have honored me by coming here every day to see what I would offer up. I promised it would be interesting, entertaining and hopefully educational. I feel that I have delivered on that promise.
Allow me to share with you some of the comments, which yet again represent moments that stood out for me from this project.
From Allison Mullally on Post #2-the Michael Jackson concert. “Amazing! This is a lesson that applies to many professions and situations. Do the research and get your gear in order.”
From David Kennerly, who was one photojournalist among many that I admired and wanted to be when I was first starting out in the business. Forgive my hero worship here, but can you appreciate what it’s like to suddenly find yourself on the camera stand shoulder to shoulder with the person whose work you studied in college and wished to emulate?
“Shoulder to shoulder with Jose Lopez, and neither of us missed the shot! “ was Kennerly’s comment in regard to Post #4 showing Reagan and Gorbachev at the Iceland Summit and he added his color version of the same moment that made the cover of Time magazine that week.
When I changed my profile photo to show what I looked like during my days in Washington, Kennerly went on to add, “Now I remember! That’s how you looked when you would kick my ass (photographically speaking) on a regular basis.”
Robert Giroux wrote to tell me that former Sec. of State James Baker’s daughter, Mary, who I captured being kissed by Shevardnadze in Post #10 is now an actress. And I am grateful for the information he sent me as I hope to contact her and send her a print that maybe someday, she can share with her children.
Through these posts on Facebook, I have made a lot of new “friends” in the business.
Kent Porter commented, “Never met you Jose, but I can appreciate what you wrote. Everyone needs a picture editor in their corner.” This after he read Post 24 on how and why I chose to hang up the cameras and become a picture editor.
From Pancho Bernasconi, who emailed me privately to say, “You have such a great way of telling the story. Miss that!” Pancho and I worked very closely during the 9/11 story.
An email from Mannie Garcia led to a phone call and I couldn’t help but cry as I thanked him, yet again, for watching out for me in Bosnia. Post 22; My time in war-torn Bosnia. We ended the call reminding each other: “Not bad for two boys from New Mexico.”
Mike Smith, the former Deputy Picture Editor at the NYT emailed me to say: “You have created a special memoir. It’s good stuff. You’ll be happy you did it, and the ones you love and who love you will be very happy too.”
“It’s rare to see a moment like this these days.” Sue Morrow wrote, “Thanks for posting.” After reading Post 21 on the playful interaction between Cab Calloway and Ray Charles at The White House while waiting for the official ceremony to begin.
A friend, Ashley Logan Brenner, with whom I share the commute with into the city, wrote in regard to Post 28, my shout-out to all the freelancers that I work with, “THIS is the creative process, and truly wonderful to see all the great work of you, Jose and your team! Congrats!”
I have to say, this project has been one of the most creative things that I have done in a long time. I remember sharing this idea with my wife Caitlin Kelly some time ago and there was no question on her part about doing it. There was only support and encouragement. Thank you, Caitlin.
I think of this project as the following.
For thirty years, I have been building a platform, bent over as I build brick by brick, focusing all the attention on the task of placing the brick in the right place, making sure it’s level, making sure it’s as solid as it can be. These bricks represent the ideals of visual story telling.
Suddenly the day has come, where I can stand up and take a look at what I have built. And the result has been amazing to me. Yes, I was as present in the moment as I could be during this whole process, but now I have reached a point in my life and career, where I get to stand up and gaze, not only at the life, career, and work that I have built, but when I turn around on this platform, I see the view from where I stand.
Here’s what I see.
The first thing is to acknowledge all of you in my life, past and present that helped me get to where I am today. I don’t believe anyone’s journey is solo. Yes, I walked the path, but you were there walking along side offering wisdom, advice, laughter and support when I needed it.
I hold hope for the professions future. As long as I am sitting in an editor’s chair, I will work to maintain the standards and quality that readers of The New York Times deserve. I am excited by what The New York Times is going to be offering for its readers in the future. The company is taking the digital future seriously and photojournalism is going to play an important role in that future, stills or video.
I can’t believe how “LUCKY” I have been in this lifetime. And yes, I am aware that at times I created my own luck.
We pass through this life and if we are fortunate, we work at something that we love to do, we work with people that we respect and who respect us, and if possible, we give back by helping others and contributing to the next generation’s growth.
I wish to quote my mentor Steve Northup, who I wrote to earlier this week seeking his advice as to how to bring this project to a close.
Steve wrote: “You have put up a wonderful series of stories and images, reminding us all of where we’ve been and also what we’re now missing. The business is in a sorry state. Photographers continue to be treated poorly. The truth about our strange business is this: if you make a good picture, it will live on in the minds of the viewers. Paper, pixels, plasma not needed. Just the triggered electrons of memory will keep it alive. I’ve always told my students that there are three kinds of photographs: the ones you take, the ones you make and, best of all, the ones you earn. You have earned a bunch of them.”
It is my hope that my images will live on in your minds.
Starting upper left hand corner clockwise– Jose R. Lopez with William “Bill” Schmidt in Tennessee covering the annual “Santa Train” ride, Lopez with the late George Tames in the Senate hearing room on the eve of the Iran Contra hearings. Writing out film envelopes at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA, at his desk in the Business section, with wife Caitlin Kelly and in Bosnia during the end of the war there.
Thirty@30, hopefully not -–30—
“How could you send a team of editors, reporters and page designers to teach this group of students and NOT include a photographer or photo editor to handle the pictures?”
I was fuming.
The year was 2003 and I had just read a story that was published in Ahead of The Times, the in-house publication of The Times, about a new program called The New York Times Student Journalism Institute.
Taking from the Institute’s website; “The Institute selects 24 student journalists from across the country to report, photograph, edit and design for two weeks under the leadership of staff from The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the host universities. http://www.nytimes-institute.com/”
I was standing in the office of William (Bill) Schmidt who oversaw the newsroom administration at that time. Bill was a colleague I had worked alongside of him when he was a reporter and I was still shooting. I knew he would understand that my passion was presenting itself as anger in this meeting.
Bill leaned back in his chair listening to my rant, and when I was done, simply looked at me and said, “Congratulations, you’re it.”
“Excuse me?” I replied.
He went on to say that I was right. They should have included a photographer or picture editor to work with the student photographers and if I felt that passionate about it, then he would see to it to clear me from my job for two weeks so that I could be part of this new venture.
I had the pleasure of teaching photojournalism and working with young photographers, writers and designers, for 10 of the Institutes that have been held.
I call them “my kids.” And they are so much more than that.
Having made the decision long ago with my wife, Caitlin Kelly, that we would not have children, we both recognize that had we met earlier in our lives and had children, they would roughly be the age of these young people now.
Caitlin presented a lecture last year at the Institute about freelance reporting. It was not only a big hit with the students, a lot of them in that class have remained in touch with her.
So, let me change that line to, WE call them “OUR kids.”
What a joy it has been to pass on what I have learned over the years, but I make clear, as my mentors did to me, that I can show them the path and talk about my experiences. It’s up to them to walk it themselves and create their own success.
I don’t hold back and I don’t sugarcoat it either. The assignments are real world; they are responsible for a photo essay/picture story in the two weeks that we are together. We sit side by side, every night, as we go through EVERY frame that they have shot on the assignment. It makes for long days, but then this is the one time that we have to be together and I want to immerse them in this kind on intensity.
The Institute publishes a newspaper at the end of the two weeks, and now with its own website, they have an opportunity to have more of their work published. Over the years, some of the strongest stories and pictures that the students have worked on have actually been published in the Times.
When the Institute starts to wind down, I have a portfolio review with each of the four photographers that I have worked with. In private, we discuss the areas they need to work on.
I remember one year, one of the photographers told me in our review session that being at the Institute opened her eyes to how challenging the work of being a photojournalist would be. She looked at me in fear when she told me she had come to the decision to return to college and change her major. She was afraid that I was going to be angry with her.
“Sounds to me like you have had a successful Institute,” was my reply. The look of surprise crossed her face. I explained that part of the Institute’s objectives is to present a real-world experience and if the students felt that they couldn’t “cut it” then that was the time and place to realize it and make whatever changes in their lives they had too.
She smiled and thanked me. I hope she has found the field that she could become successful and happy in.
I took this role seriously as I am aware that some of these young journalists are out there in the field today so I have tried to teach them the ethics and responsibilities that I learned from my mentor, Steve Northup.
I remember the day that I asked Steve how I could ever thank him for the time and attention that he gave me as I grew professionally. He looked at me and said, “Teach the generation behind you.”
I have done that to the best of my ability, and now I pass that instruction to my students.
To all those that have been a part of the Institute and will be reading this post; It is with a heavy heart, yet a clear mind that I have informed Don Hecker, the Institute director, that I will no longer be a part of the faculty. This was my decision.
There comes a time when it’s time to step aside and let another colleague have this opportunity. Don, who built this program and loves it, is working on new ideas that will involve alumni from past Institutes and I have signaled my interest in being a part of that. Stay tuned.
Thank you all for the trust and energy that you gave me. Now then, as I used to say in our newsroom, “Get to work. There’s no sitting around allowed.”
Thanks to Elaine Nicole Cromie, Alex Wroblewski, Molly J. Smith for the use of their photographs.
Thirty@30, hopefully not -–30—
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
In an earlier post, I described the main reason why I wanted to become a picture editor. That desire was to become the picture editor that I never had at The Times.
This post is dedicated to all of the talented photographers that freelance for The New York Times with whom I have had the pleasure to work with for the past 14 years.
Whether it was a National, Foreign, Sports, Real Estate, or a Business assignment; if we have worked together in the past 14 years, I just want to say, “thank you,” for your hard work, your creativity, your personal vision and your journalistic skills.
There are 40 pages in this compilation that shows off the talent of a lot of you that are friends on Facebook. I was not able to get all of you in here, but you are not forgotten. While I was putting this together, it dawned on me how many photographers I have come to know across the world. How fortunate I am to have your friendship.
I have so enjoyed working with all of you. Here’s to the ongoing relationship that we have established and continue to nurture.
Thirty@30, hopefully not -–30—
This post is short and sweet. It’s a shout out to the staff photographers that I have the pleasure to work with at The New York Times.
The 15 pages shown here don’t even begin to tap into the depth that exists with our staff. Thank you– Doug Mills, Stephen Crowley, Gabriella Demczuk, Richard Perry, Fred R. Conrad, Damon Winter, Jim Wilson, Moncia Almeida, Josh Haner and all the others.
I also wish to thank the picture desk staff of The Times. Editors, and Digital support staff, all of you with whom I get to work with on a daily basis.
Thirty@30, hopefully not -–30—
You have been kind enough to follow this project for the past 26 days, so I felt a little reward was due.
Time for a pop quiz! (yes, I can have a devious mind at times.)
C’mon, you didn’t think I was going to let you get away without a little work and effort on your part did ya? You can’t just sit there and read this.
It’ll be fun….remember the mantra I taught you…..”There are no problems, only solutions.”
Here we go. Without using Google, answer the following questions to the best of your ability.
1: What is Commercial Paper and why is it important in the financial industry?
2: What is a Collateralized Debt Obligation?
3: What are Trust Preferred Securities or TruPS as they are known in the industry?
Welcome to the World of Business and Finance and to its own unique language. It’s one that I had to learn and TRY to understand when I moved into the Business section in 2008.
She and I didn’t know it at the time, but Michele McNally moved me into the Business section four months before Lehman Brothers went over the edge of the cliff filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on September 15, 2008.
It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since and this is my chance to talk about how challenging and how much I enjoy working in the Business section as one of two picture editors.
When people think about Business pictures, they usually imagine the broker on the floor of the stock exchange looking up at the boards, mouth wide open, hand to head, looking panicked, or laughing outloud, etc. And yes, I have been known to run that picture, but I try not too.
They think about white men in pinstripe suits sitting behind big desks, or sitting ON big desks, looking serious, proud, angry, tough, powerful………(I’m falling asleep now…_)
Right, where were we?
But I came into the section with ideas as to what I wanted it to look like and with the backing of McNally, went to work on trying to bring a more dynamic and creative way to illustrate business news.
I offer these pages from my portfolio as proof of what my colleague Zvi Lowenthal and I attempt to do every day. As the old saying goes, “some days I get the bear, some days the bear gets me.”
Let me just say, at the risk of hurting some colleagues feelings, it is in my humble opinion that the reporters and editors of the Times Business section that I have worked alongside of for the past six years are hands down, the smartest people I have had the pleasure to work with at The New York Times.
Those pop quiz questions that I opened this post with? They not only know what those things are, they are kind enough to explain them to me– in English– which helps me to covert that information into pictures, if there is one to be made!
I start my morning by walking onto the floor of the section and as I pass the morning news editor, I ask, “Am I chasing anyone or anything this morning?” That comes from a period of time when the FBI seemed to be arresting and perp walking a lot of people for insider trading or ponzi schemes—think Madoff here.
Zvi and I are responsible for the visual content that appears not only in the paper, but also on the website. I think we are very lucky to work alongside the web producers and editors that we have.
Look at the examples that I have posted. The top row are the daily Business sections, with breaking news or news displays. The middle row are examples of the Sunday Business section. The bottom row are examples of a monthly photo essay that runs within the Sunday Business section called “Soapbox.” (email me your ideas—remember it has to reflect a business angle)
I love the variety!
Allow me to point out some of my favorites.
The first image in the second row. It’s what Leah Nash, in Portland, Oregon, shot for us when she worked with reporter Natasha Singer as the two spent the day with Genevieve Bell, a cultural anthropologist for Intel in her office. Or the image next to it that Mary F. Calvert made when we gained access and time to the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke. How about Cheryl Gerber’s portrait of a young woman in New Orleans who was the subject of a business story on internet webcam models and how she and others like her are affecting the pornography industry. Next to it is Kevin Moloney’s portrait of a family whose father was just recently laid off from a company in Nebraska, facing an uncertain financial future. Finally, a trio of portraits of people who were affected by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and how their lives turned out one year later.
Alyssha Eve Csuk showed the readers of The Times the beauty of what rusted steel can look like when she gained access to the now shuttered Bethlehem Steel plant. Dilip Vishwanat took my idea and ran with it when I sent him to cover the insurance adjusters that had descended on Joplin, Missouri to work out the details of their clients claims. The team of Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber showed what the BUSINESS of ice fishing looks like in their native Minnesota. Ginnette Riquelme gave us a glimpse of the economic tough times that Spaniards were facing in Spain, and Daniel Acker showed us what early spring planting looks like in his part of the country.
So much news! So much talent! So little time!
In closing, let me just confess that I finally had to learn what commercial paper is. Like you, I’ll Google the other two, although I doubt I’ll understand what they are or do.
This post is dedicated to the following:
First to my dear friend and fellow picture editor Zvi Lowenthal. I jokingly call us the two “old dogs” of the photo department given how long we both have been at The Times. I have never known anyone who works as hard as he does, and is as exacting with standards when it comes to Times style. Thank you Zvi, I couldn’t do this without you.
To Michele McNally; thank you for trusting me with this section and for challenging me the way you do.
To Editors Dean Murphy, David Gillen, Kevin McKenna, Adrienne Carter, Dan Niemi, Jeffrey Cane, Vera Titunik. Thank you for your ongoing support, encouragement and ideas.
To art directors Minh Uong and James Best. What a pleasure to work with artists such as yourselves who can take an idea and make it look good on a page.
To picture editors Tala Skari, Gaia Tripoli, Karine Granier-Deferre and the others at the offices of the International New York Times in Paris and Hong Kong. Thank you for your help and friendship.
Thirty@30, hopefully not -–30—
“Our sources tell us that they don’t know what is happening and they’re not sure that a financial system will be in place by the end of the day.”
The meeting room went silent. You could hear a pin drop in the building. Everyone in the room was starring at David Gillen, who was at that time the editor in charge of the banking and financial reporters in the Business section of The New York Times. (He is now the Deputy editor of the section.)
“Once again?” was Larry Ingrassia’s reaction as he looked at David’s ashen face from across the table. (Ingrassia was then the Editor of the Business section)
Gillen repeated himself. The room remained silent.
One of the things that I so enjoy about my job, and is essential, is access to the daily meetings where discussions are held, debated and decisions are made as to the coverage and display of the Business news for the next days paper or the next hours web presentation.
The above scene played out in September of 2008 when the worlds financial system was in meltdown mode. Confidence in the financial system was shaky, markets were plunging, this country and the world, was headed for one of the worst recessions in modern history.
One week earlier, Gillen had come into the same room, and reported what those same banking and financial sources were telling his team of reporters and it gave us insights as to the day’s coverage.
This time it was different and the hairs on my arms stood straight up when he repeated himself.
I remember as a small boy my father sharing his stories of having to eat potatoes three times a day during the Depression and all I could think about at that moment was, “Great, I’m going to have to live through a Depression myself.”
I’m sharing three pages with this post that are representative of the largest stories I have had the honor to work on in my career.
Everyone has there 9-11 story, as to where they were when the planes hit the Twin Towers , the Pentagon and fell out of the sky in Pennsylvania. As far as I am concerned, the financial melt-down in 2008 was the 9-11 of the financial industry and it was world-wide.
During two weeks in October of 2008, the Business section of the NYT published six extra pages of news, insights, etc. If you’re in the industry then you can imagine the challenge that I and my colleague, Zvi Lowenthal, faced as picture editors in finding/having enough images to fill those pages, as well as offering the strongest images for page one.
Business pictures aren’t the sexiest images to be found, but Zvi and I worked hard everyday to find pictures from the wires, and assign photographers to shoot for the stories we generated.
In facing this news story, I drew on my experience as one of two national picture editors during the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York City. I am so grateful to have worked through those days with Pancho Bernasconi, who is now at Getty Images.
It is in my professional and humble opinion that three things changed the face of photojournalism at The New York Times.
They were; 9-11 and the story that unfolded that day, Executive Editor Howell Raines, and the leadership of Margaret O’Connor and Mike Smith who were in charge of the picture desk at that time.
In my 30 years as a journalist, I have learned that through fate, karma, or whatever you want to call it, there are certain editors that are in the right place at the right time when big stories happen. They were meant to be there. They have a sixth and seventh sense about them and they just know HOW to lead and WHAT needs to be done in those moments.
Howell Raines was that man during the 9-11 story. Raines understood the power of photojournalism and he knew this was one story that the pictures were going to be high impact. Look at the Times Page One of 9-12. There had never been that kind of layout done before with that much emphasis placed on the photos.
Margaret and Mike understood what the photo department was facing during this story and they made sure that people and resources were in place in order to give the readers of The Times the visual stories and information that they had come to expect.
Let me just say that living and working in the newsroom during that story was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. The energy of being in and working like a team has never been so strong. Assignments were made, images were edited, production work done for the daily as well as the special section that ran for several weeks afterwards. Everyone offered to do what had to be done in order to put out the paper.
Although it was a more specialized story, I witnessed the same thing in the Business section during the financial crisis and here again, I am grateful that Larry Ingrassia was in the chair as the Editor of the Business section during that period of time.
He and his team of deputies, Adam Bryant and Winnie O’Kelly, along with the rest of the Business staff worked with a ferocity that I was proud to be a part of this team.
The thing that I remember most during those days is how fluid the story, like the markets, were on a daily basis. Story ideas thought up at 7am, were no good by 11am. Those thought up in the early afternoon, were no longer given a thought by the time the markets closed.
There is something special about being in THIS newsroom when big stories hit. There’s always that feeling and desire to go out and buy several extra copies of the next days–The New York Times— and putting it away so that the grandchildren will have a copy of history.