Last year, the Chicago Sun-Times made the controversial decision to let go twenty-right of its photojournalists while making changes to their staff. Now that one year has passed, Poynter went out and got in contact with the photographers affected to see what’s happened since then.
On one side, 61 year-old photojournalist Ernie Torres is forced into early retirement, deciding to spend more time with his grandchildren and finding a few new ways to bring an income into the household. On the other, 27 year-old Brian Powers went back and decided to complete journalism school. Back when he was hired as a full-time staff photographer in 2010, Powers never actually finished getting his degree.
The number of people that responded to Poynter pointed out one significantly important thing about the photography industry in general: it’s diverse and unpredictable. With the talent that comes in, much of where people in the field go in life comes from the sum of the work that they put in, and the luck that comes their way.
For many of the photojournalists that lost their jobs that fateful day, things ended up completely fine. For people like Rob Hart, being a member of the team at the Sun-Times allowed him to get publicity that would probe to be a tremendous amount of support for the future endeavours he chooses to take. At the end of it all, judging from the stories collected by Poynter, things turned out pretty all right.
But at the same time, the incident with the Chicago Sun-Times also proves to be a powerful lesson for photographers like us, as well. For those of us that see this as our future, what we want to do, and what we hope to achieve in, we need to remember to be prepared for the worst. The hard truth is that when it all comes down to it, anything can happen. If we choose to enter a field like this, along with many other fields in general, we should let the stories of these people remind us of how important it is to keep fighting and take advantage of the resources we have. One day, Brian Powers didn’t need a degree for his job; when things got rough, however, he didn’t hesitate to turn back and work towards getting it. And that’s what we need to remember in the end: things may get bad, but there’s always something you can do to get by. What’s important is that you step up and get it done.
Check out the full story at Poynter here.
[photo (cc) by Adam Fagen]