Feeling the burden to tell a story

Tim Hawkins – Comedian [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/9, 1/100]
Tim Hawkins often says in his comedy routines that there are only two things different between himself and the audience when it comes to comedy.

First he has the microphone and second talent. Of course he says this towards the end of his shows after you have been laughing so hard that you have been crying.

BAREBACK RIDING–The Cobb County Classic Rodeo @ Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 64000, ƒ/2.8, 1/1600]
Often at the root of a calling to do something is a passion for it. I think cowboys who get on bucking horses and bulls must have a real passion for the sport.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/500]
For many of my photojournalist friends we all have met people and felt like there story must be told. This burning within our hearts is when we realize that if we don’t tell the story no one will.

I am seeing now more than at any other time photojournalist after photojournalist who cannot find anyone who will support them to do a story that self funds the coverage of the story.

During the 1960s, Eugene Richards was a civil rights activist and VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteer. Richards’ published photographs are mostly intended as a means of raising social awareness, have been characterized as “highly personal” and are both exhibited and published in a series of books.

Just a couple years ago he was speaking about finding a story that had to be told. No one would underwrite the coverage. After he did it himself the photos were too disturbing for any publication to take it on.

He would then publish the work as a book with his son. This with other examples like his have always opened other doors later for more work, but the calling to do the work was personal.

Southwestern Photojournalism Conference planning meeting at Patrick Murphy-Racey’s home located in Knoxville, TN [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/7.1, 1/75]
This past weekend I was part of the planning meeting for the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference. Patrick Murphy-Racey asked us all to go around the room and tell of a heart and head moment that we could share from the conference that impacted our lives.

Pat shared how close he was to giving up and going into another industry when he came to conference where Eugene Richards spoke about his passion for subjects compelled him to do a story even if no one would pay him.

Bill Bangham, Eugene Richards and Stanley Leary at the SWPJC. [Nikon Coolpix P7000, ISO 1600, ƒ2.8, 1/60]
Pat felt like he had just been taken out to the shed for a good whipping. He realized that he couldn’t stop and would find a way to continue.

Today because of that reignited passion Pat is a Sony Artisan and his shooting and speaking schedule has him busy once again.

The Southwestern Photojournalism Conference is the conference for those who believe photojournalism to be a calling and the act of bearing witness to be important.

All those biblical stories of people hearing God calling them are calls that require them to take a “Leap of Faith”. That is an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved. You are moving into often unchartered waters.

This is so true for the photojournalist who feels called. You see if the story has been told then you are not needed. But to tell a story that hasn’t been told requires you to take many risks.

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
– 1 Timothy 6:12
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
– 1 Peter 2:21