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For ‘Monitor’ photographer, it’s like coming home

  • one of four bw shots showing Chantilly, Jamaica

    one of four bw shots showing Chantilly, Jamaica

  • 1 of 4 photos showing documentary on Chantilly, Jamaica

    1 of 4 photos showing documentary on Chantilly, Jamaica

  • 1 of 4 photos for documentary on Jamaica

    1 of 4 photos for documentary on Jamaica

  • 1 of four photos showing documentary project by Geoff

    1 of four photos showing documentary project by Geoff

  • Bishop Hirschfeld was elected bishop coadjutor May 19, 2012 on<br/>the first ballot. He was consecrated the tenth Bishop of New<br/>Hampshire August 4, 2012, and installed at St. Paul’s Church,<br/>Concord, January 5, 2013.  This was from his consecration in 2012 at the Capitol Center for the Arts. Former Bishop Gene Robinson, second from left, was part of consecration with other bishops.

    Bishop Hirschfeld was elected bishop coadjutor May 19, 2012 on
    the first ballot. He was consecrated the tenth Bishop of New
    Hampshire August 4, 2012, and installed at St. Paul’s Church,
    Concord, January 5, 2013. This was from his consecration in 2012 at the Capitol Center for the Arts. Former Bishop Gene Robinson, second from left, was part of consecration with other bishops.

  • An i-phone 4 shot of the Maine coast by Zach Forester

    An i-phone 4 shot of the Maine coast by Zach Forester

  • A view of Concord from the parking garage of the NH Historical Society on Storrs Street at sundown in 2012

    A view of Concord from the parking garage of the NH Historical Society on Storrs Street at sundown in 2012

  • Photo from the 2010 Newmarket Heritage Festival used as a cover for an award-winning newsletter for the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

    Photo from the 2010 Newmarket Heritage Festival used as a cover for an award-winning newsletter for the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

  • one of four bw shots showing Chantilly, Jamaica
  • 1 of 4 photos showing documentary on Chantilly, Jamaica
  • 1 of 4 photos for documentary on Jamaica
  • 1 of four photos showing documentary project by Geoff
  • Bishop Hirschfeld was elected bishop coadjutor May 19, 2012 on<br/>the first ballot. He was consecrated the tenth Bishop of New<br/>Hampshire August 4, 2012, and installed at St. Paul’s Church,<br/>Concord, January 5, 2013.  This was from his consecration in 2012 at the Capitol Center for the Arts. Former Bishop Gene Robinson, second from left, was part of consecration with other bishops.
  • An i-phone 4 shot of the Maine coast by Zach Forester
  • A view of Concord from the parking garage of the NH Historical Society on Storrs Street at sundown in 2012
  • Photo from the 2010 Newmarket Heritage Festival used as a cover for an award-winning newsletter for the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

After a weekend wondering why I was still living in Concord – especially after the past winter – I agreed to meet former Monitor editor Mike Pride at a downtown coffee house. I had called Pride three weeks earlier to congratulate him on his return to the Monitor as interim editor.

We caught up, joking about his moving into his old slot, and we joked about my return after 19 years away.

Turns out that was no joke.

Pride called me back, at a time when my sister’s offer to move to Florida seemed like a good idea. Plus, the phone at Forester Photography hadn’t rung much in February. What to do?

Pride had mentioned something about reaching out to the community to enhance the photography report. I thought that is what he wanted to talk about, but I was wrong. Pride was contemplating bringing me back as photo editor. Stunned does not begin to describe my feelings. Pride had some other details to work out in the newsroom, but he wanted to know my thoughts.

I said I would come back in an instant. Even though it has been 19 years since I held the post and 12 years since I had been in a newsroom, I said yes, because you can take the photographer out of photojournalism, but you can’t photojournalism out of the photographer. It gets in your blood. Photojournalism dead? Hardly.

Yes, cell phones can take mind-blowing images at the touch of button. The megapixel capabilities of the new generation of cell phones are greater than my first digital DSLR. They produce photographs that photographers could only dream about a generation ago. Plus, they are everywhere, with a subculture of documentarians capturing every event possible, including selfies. Heck, everyone wants to get in on the act, from the president to 8-year-olds, to grandma taking pictures of her bridge club, to teenagers shooting everything they do. And outlets galore. Can’t even name them all here.

But, as visual journalists, we do something different. The capabilities have changed, but storytelling has not. A photojournalist wants to tell the story without words, and an ideal shot would be no caption necessary. Our goal is to make every story visual – to make a story jump off the page – but we can’t be everywhere, either.

So while sleeping last month during a fire that would cause a million dollars worth of damage in the South End, Sports Editor Sandy Smith was coming back from work and took a shot with her cell phone, capturing a spectacular fireball before I got there. We used Smith’s photo to help tell the story.

So, although I have been away from a newsroom for 12 years, photojournalism has dictated my style of every freelance assignment I have covered, including weddings.

The Monitor has a history of producing great photojournalists, culminating with Preston Ganaway, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008, but there’s been a long list of amazing talent throughout the years. When I started in 1987, the staff evolved into Ken Williams, Garo Lachinian and Dan Habib. All I had to do was get out of their way. Many great photojournalists came before them and just as many after. And the Monitor feels like my journalistic home. I have worked at four newspapers, large and small, but none compare to the comfort level that I feel here, ever since John Fensterwald and Pride took a chance and named me photo editor. And now, with all these young, talented journalists, it still feels the same.

When I started last month, I walked through the darkened, empty newsroom, only to see Managing Editor Ric Tracewski, who promptly corrected the typo in the announcement of my return, “You’re not 49!” he said as he walked back into another darkened hallway.

No, I thought, but I do feel 10 years younger.

It’s good to be home.

Welcome back Geoff, its been great to see your work again. You've always produced direct and insightful photojournalism without using gimmicks. I hope your return will result in the Monitor making better use and display of you and your staff's work.

Welcome back. The MONITOR has always excelled in photography. You all set a very high bar. The explanation of photojournalism is helpful. I am the daughter of a UPI photojournalist.

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