Tips from Robin Rayne

SARAH ALLEN is both single mother and full-time — though untrained –nurse to her son Aidan, born with cerebral palsy and complex medical issues. State Medicaid regulations severely limit the number of hours her medically fragile son can have in-home nursing care, regardless of his doctor’s orders for medical necessity. Aidan needs 24-7 care and constant tube feeding. Sarah may soon be homeless because the house where she lives will be sold, and she has limited resources to find another home suitable for a severely disabled child. Her story illustrates several serious shortfalls within the Medicaid and Social Security Disability systems. PICTURED: Sarah cleans her son from a diaper changing. (photo by Robin Rayne/Zuma Press) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/80]
Robin Rayne says, “Make your emotion work for you and not against you, remember, God gave you tears.”

Robin spends most of her time photographing today in the disabilities community. She is a photojournalist and documentary producer for the University of Georgia’s Institute on Human Development and Disability. Her compelling images illustrating human rights, disability and gender diversity issues are distributed internationally by Zuma Press.

Chelle Leary and her friends going to their senior prom March 10, 2017. (photo by Robin Rayne) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 320, f/7.1, 1/25]
When I was traveling and could not photograph my daughter’s senior prom Robin helped out for our family getting the photos of the important event in our family.

Kelemen Szab—, Dorie Griggs and Chelle Leary getting formal photos before Chelle’s Senior Prom. (photo by Robin Rayne) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/40]
I can always count on Robin to capture those moments. The minute I knew I was away for that all too important Prom I called Robin.

Parents watch as the limo pulls away taking our kids away for senior prom. (photo by Robin Rayne) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 320, f/7.1, 1/60]
Robin sees moments and captures the emotions we feel. When asked how she does it with such emotional moments she says, “I am thankful for auto focus when covering some stories, because of all the tears.”

Great photojournalists embrace their emotions.

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” – Don McCullin

Robin Rayne keynote speaker for the FOCUS Atlanta event held at Professional Photographic Resources on March 10, 2018. [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/5, 1/30]
After Robin spoke this past weekend at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar she commented that after talking with people about their portfolios she was always asking why for the photos.

Why does this story need to be told? Why should the public care?

What is surprising to myself and Robin is how when you ask this question so many have a deer in the headlights look on their face.

Though it may be interesting or even entertaining, the foremost value of news is as a utility to empower the informed. The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.


Ben and Sam Schwenker, now 8 years old, were both diagnosed with autism when they were 18 months old. “Raising them is a daily challenge. We were so not prepared, but we learn more every day, ” says Jennifer, the boys’ mother.
     Autism spectrum disorders cut across all lines of race, class, and ethnicity. Autism impacts millions of children, adults, and their families around the world. Boys have a significantly higher incidence of autism than girls: four out of every five people with autism are male. Because of the genetic link, siblings of a child with autism have a greater chance of being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorders affect not only the person diagnosed with the disorder, but also make a significant impact on the entire family with a variety of social, financial, and other practical demands.
     PICTURED: Now 8 years old, Sam (in yellow) and Ben still spend much of their day after school and weekends on their trampoline. They are still non-verbal but understand some of what they hear. (photo by Robin Rayne/Zuma Press) [NIKON D700, 24.0-70.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 250, ƒ/8, 1/80]
Robin is a photojournalist and not just a photographer. Robin is not interested in just entertaining the public, she is interested in informing the public. She is most concerned in telling the stories of people who cannot tell their own stories.

Robin is the voice for the voiceless who is also calling others to take up the call of photojournalism. She knows she alone cannot tell all the stories needing to be told.

When I asked Robin to speak to my Intro to Photojournalism class at Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication she challenged the class.

If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.

Robin explained how her why probably came about having a son with disabilities.

You have to find your niche. The combination of your WHY and HOWs is as exclusively yours as your fingerprint.