DPP Home Profiles Carolyn Cole: Running In

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Carolyn Cole: Running In

L.A. Times staff photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner Carolyn Cole wants to make a contribution

DPP: How do you keep yourself on an emotional even keel when you’ve been witness to so many horrific scenes?

Cole: Making meaningful images in chaotic situations requires concentration. I’ve learned to channel all of my emotional energy into the work, to let the subjects speak for themselves. If I break down and am unable to do my job, I’ll be letting everyone down. I want to end each day knowing that I did the best that I could to tell their story.

What equipment are you shooting with, and how do you get your images to The L.A. Times from remote locations?
In news photography, you have to see it happening. I’ve learned to keep going until I get to the heart of the story. It’s become instinctual.
Cole: I only carry one camera—a Canon EOS 5D or Canon EOS-1D Mark II—along with a wide-angle and telephoto zoom. I leave a spare in the hotel. On foreign news assignments, the days can be long and exhausting. I decided years ago that I’d rather carry less equipment, and possibly miss a picture, than injure my back or be too tired to finish. At the end of each day, I edit my work down to about 10 or 20 pictures and transmit to the newspaper. No matter where I am, I find a way either via satellite phone or the Internet. I’ve always tried to stay current when a new piece of technology is introduced. The last thing I want is to be in a difficult situation and unable to send my pictures. If your editors know they can count on you, they’re more likely to send you. I also try to make contributions to the news story if there isn’t a reporter on hand.

You recently took a sabbatical from the newspaper to work on a project. What’s that all about?

I just returned from Southeast Asia where I was working on a project about child victims of sexual exploitation. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about the issue and the organization LOVE146, which works toward ending the sexual exploitation of children. Baume & Mercier funded the project and is presenting the work in New York. It was a real challenge to make pictures that show the victims in a positive and respectful manner, and also do justice to the topic. I hope that the work will help not only the children I photographed, but also many more who are at risk.


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