Q. What advice do you have for any photographer in college?
A. Spend time focusing on a project that you’re passionate about, not one that you think some editor or some magazine wants you to work on. That’s the best way to hone your skills, rather than just trying to shoot a lot of things and be a generalist.
Get lots of fine people that will give you honest feedback and get critiques. You get critiques throughout your time here, but then once you leave, it’s good to get it in front of other photographers, share work and get involved with groups that give monthly critiques. Ask for honest feedback and listen. Make sure you’re not so defensive and holding onto your work. If it’s really not speaking to people, move on to another subject.
Be aware of subjects that are so heavily covered by everyone. If you’re going to Burning Man, you will be the one millionth photographer who has made great pictures at Burning Man and you’re not going to distinguish yourself in an editor’s eyes.
Q. Did you have any weird experience coming into Missouri for CPOY?
A. Well, I started in Banff (Mountain Film Festival) and I arrived in Chicago with 15 minutes to spare. I made it, with a little bit of sweat, but my bag didn’t. So I’m wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday, and it was an 11-hour travel day.
Q. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the comfort of the chair you’ve been sitting in all day?
A. Since I stand 80 percent of my day at work, I’m going to give it a 4. My butt is becoming one with the chair. I’m not so happy with it anymore.
Interview by Shelby Feistner