Thursday, June 14, 2007
Tyler Hicks - Into The Combat Zone
While New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks takes pictures of some of the most hellish events on the planet, he manages to capture moments that reaffirm life in the midst of violence and death
Hicks cautions that as a news photographer, “My job is to shoot quickly, edit quickly, then get them to the newspaper as quickly as I can.”
It's a trade-off between quantity as well as quality. “As long as the images look good in the paper, I'm happy with that and don't need to concern myself with anything else,” he says. “I'm not shooting for a magazine nor am I an art photographer, whereby image quality and resolution are everything. As the technology continues to evolve, I'll review changes to my workflow to see if I can up the image quality without sacrificing efficiency.”
The Technology Curve: Stay A Little Behind
Experience has taught Hicks to stay a generation or two behind with his equipment, whether it's camera firm-ware, system updates for computers or the latest satellite phone technology.
“I have a responsibility to be able to deliver my images on time,” he says. “When traveling, I don't do anything to any piece of technology I'm using. That means no software updates, no patches, nothing. The smallest change or update to my computer or camera or phone could affect my ability to work. I can't take the risk.”
When Hicks is in New York, he can stop by the IT department at The Times for help. “But once I'm out in the field, I can't call tech support,” he says. “Unless they have the computer there in front of them, there's only so much I can do by describing a problem over a sat phone in the middle of a war zone.”
Hicks will remain a news photographer. He has no interest in fashion, advertising or other flavors of commercial work. The genre of news photography is large enough to provide abundant opportunities, and he maintains fresh perspectives as long as he can work on other projects not quite related to news or war reportage.
“When I come back from an overseas assignment, I work for the Metro section of The Times, and the pace is different as is the photography I shoot,” says Hicks. “It helps ground me and keep my perspective. Whether it's a local or overseas project, both help to maintain a healthy mix of perspectives and therefore a balanced sense of self over the long term.”
For Tyler Hicks, photography is about getting images out there for people to see. Being able to witness events is fulfilling and he tries to take tasteful, meaningful photographs. The images he creates have to have meaning; they have to have a purpose. And in that vein, he'll rely on the appropriate tools to do the job.
See more of Tyler Hicks' photography by visiting The New York Times website, www.nyt.com.
Page 5 of 5