Photojournalist Gary Knight closed day 1 of Photo Week 2016 with a riveting discussion about choices that you make as a photojournalist. In his talk, he spanned his amazing career — from his first camera and living in Indochina, all the way through the Iraq war — and offered advice to photographers in each phase of their journey.
Gary’s advice to new photojournalists was particularly interesting though, since his words of wisdom span beyond photography and are applicable to creatives of all kinds. Take it all in below.
Identify your strengths.
Gary left after his first year of college in order to become a storyteller. Being young in his career, he didn’t make much money. In fact, he was poor, but didn’t see it as something that held him back. In fact, it can be seen as a strength. “Being poor is an incredible strength. It forces you to look at the world in a different way. I worked much harder than those photographers that made more money.”
Trust your instincts.
… Even if it contradicts perceived wisdom. Gary told us that oftentimes, he thought the images he was capturing from Cambodia during the Indochina conflicts were interesting, but no one else did. “I photographed a lot of soldiers at rest, because that’s how they spent most of their time.” Eventually, editors would see the value in his work because “I would get pictures that they could never get because I was going into places they would never go.”
Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.
How do you challenge conventional wisdom? Ask yourself: what is the narrative about gender, race, or income inequality, and do they differ from what you experience in your everyday life? How do they differ? “If you don’t know, ask people for yourself. Experience things for yourself. Ask questions. If you find out that the narrative you’re experiencing is challenged by what you’re learning, then ask yourself ‘how can i as a storyteller, show others?’”
Get the rest of Gary’s tips in his class, Choices in Your Photojournalism Career, as a part of Photo Week 2016!