'10 questions' is an occasional feature in which Tampa Bay Times photographers share some of their thoughts about photography and photojournalism, as well as some of their favorite images.
Today we are featuring Loren Elliott, who is in the middle of a 12-month internship with the Times.
So … why photography?
I love being exposed to environments and communities I would never otherwise interact with, if it weren't for this job. I can be on the field for the post-game handshake between some of the best players in the NFL one day, and in a jail parenting class for incarcerated fathers the next. There are few careers that could expose me to such a variety of experiences.
When did your love of photography begin?
When I was an undergraduate student at Seattle University and Obama won the 2012 presidential election, I was sent to cover the madness that took over the city's streets for the school paper. That was the first time I realized I was documenting history. At the time, it wasn't for a news outlet that hardly anyone would see, but it was still a powerful realization. I think that night hooked me on photojournalism.
What do you like best about being a photojournalist?
This career path excites me. I don't live for the weekend. I live for the moments when I meet a family moving out of an asbestos-filled apartment and they allow me into their lives for a few hours. Or when there is a raging wildfire and I'm right next to the firefighters on the front lines. Or when David Ortiz hits his 500th career home run and I'm practically next to him when he gets back to the dugout to hug his teammates. There are plenty of assignments that aren't a fraction as thrilling as those examples, but the good days are incredible days. The old cliché goes that being a journalist provides a front seat to witness history. Some days it's so true.
What's the toughest part about being a photojournalist?
Sometimes you have to cover tragedy and loss. When a Berkeley, Calif., balcony collapsed last summer and killed six students, I had to spend the day at the scene, photographing those who came to mourn. The freak incident was historic for many reasons and needed to be documented. The reality is it's very difficult to make powerful pictures of people mourning without crossing some sort of line into their privacy. Without the time to create a relationship and gain trust with your subjects, it's often assumed you're some sort of vulture. It's downright uncomfortable to photograph someone who is grief-stricken when he or she is not willing to let you introduce yourself and explain your purpose. You still have to do your job though, with respect and integrity, and hope they will later understand why you needed to be there taking pictures.
What kind of images would you say you specialize in, if any?
I'm most passionate about news, sports and documentary photography. I aspire to specialize in long-term issue-based coverage, but for now am more of a jack-of-all-trades.
What's the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on an assignment?
While covering a wildfire in Northern California, an aerial firefighting plane dropped a load of fire retardant on me, and my car. I'd always thought the pink matter these planes dropped was a powder. I was wrong. It's the consistency of wet paint. I almost got back to the car but couldn't make it, and had to go into "duck-and-cover" position on the ground. My car and myself got completely coated in the sticky pink goo. I put my cameras under my body and luckily they made it through with only a light splash.
Who are your favorite photographers?
Daniel Berehulak, Jerome Delay, Lisa Krantz, Tyler Hicks, Kirsten Luce, Todd Heisler, Damon Winter, Mary Calvert, John Moore, to name a few.
Do you have a personal website or blog where you display your work?
I do — it's LorenElliottPhoto.com, and I maintain a blog section with recent work.
What do you like to do to unwind and recharge?
On days off I like to go to the beach, watch Netflix or rent a kayak for a paddle. Photojournalism can be mentally draining. Completely taking your mind off it is important, for me anyways, to stay enthusiastic.
Lastly, can you share some of your favorite images with us, and tell us what makes them special to you?
Here are three of my favorite images I've ever taken. I chose these three because they are quiet moments. There's no peek action, there's no screaming or jumping, but they make me feel something. I hope they have the same effect on viewers.
Tampa Bay Times
Here are some previous "10 questions" posts you might enjoy:
Zack Wittman (Published February 11, 2016)