Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tim Hussin interview - Part B

© Tim Hussin

A Wildfire's Approach - Residents watch as firefighters make a fire line to stop a wildfire on Green Mountain on Monday, August 4, 2008. The fire, said to be started by lightning, approached many neighborhoods in the area causing mandatory evacuations but did not cause any property damage.

Please read Tim Hussin's biography, read Part A of this interview and see the images on his Web site.

Noah Rabinowitz stated, "This summer I remember Hussin talking about how much Preston Gannaway influenced him while he was interning at The Rocky. Why?"
I think he talks about that more than I do. She won the Pulitzer this year for Feature Photography and was just hired on The Rocky Mountain News staff. She got there a little before I did.

For me - and I think for Noah as well - she embodies that ability to be invisible. She captures these moments that are so genuine, so unique - even when she's not even spending too much time with a subject. She has this uncanny ability to do that.

Those that influence me, I don't really know that they're influencing me. I just see their work and appreciate it and go on with the daily grind shooting what I need to shoot. It must influence me in some way. How it does, I'm not really sure, but I know it does.

Working with her over the summer and seeing her daily work and how she produces wonderful image after wonderful image, it pushed me a lot during that summer to put my whole self into everything I shot to try to do that as well.
Do you "make" or "take" photos?
I like to think I "take" photos. I feel like I do my best when I capture things that are real moments that are actually happening without the presence of myself. Portraiture, illustration and things like that are not particularly my strengths.

I would say I'm more of a photographer who takes photos and tries to be in the right place at the right time and tries to capture whatever that subject is by capturing unique moments that happen.
Do you have a visual pet peeve?
I try not to. I try to be open to a lot of things. I don't particularly like clichés. There are a lot of clichés, like a kid on a swing, for example. Things that are easy to shoot for daily work, just to get something in the paper. That bugs me a little.

I know sometimes people have to do that, but more than that, I'm pretty open. I think there are some specific things - cutting off people's feet.
Some of your images have body parts entering the frame.
Yea. Some of them. There are some general things that you can go by. Like people say, "You have to learn the rules to break them." I'm not saying I know all the rules - I know a lot of them - but, you have to do it in a meaningful way.

Sometimes it isn't meaningful. I think a lot of things are becoming cliché like that - like cutting off body parts. I think, at the same time, it can add some aesthetics to an image that make it more complete or make it more visually interesting.

So, I'm open to using clichés, but at the same time I'm thoughtful when I do and the reasons that I do.
Most PJ's have a driving motivation. It underlies all their projects, stories and even single images. What's yours?
I might disagree. I think there are many reasons I do this. I think there probably is a overlying general motivation that I have and lots of parts to that.

With photojournalism, I have the ability to make a difference and reach a lot of people. I know that's possible.

It seems like it's the right thing to do. I think a lot of people - initially, before they're disenchanted with life - feel like they need to make a difference. They are happier with themselves and with their community if they feel like they're contributing something to that community.

I think that's the motivation for me, is to be able to contribute something to the community that I'm in - be a part of that community and not just stand on the side and take things for what they are, but find parts of that community that I think are important, and I think are good and could tell something to somebody else and present those to people within that community and elsewhere. Just say, "Hey, this is something you need to look at and consider, maybe take to heart."

I guess that's my motivation, but it's also a way for me to express myself. It's also a way for me to do something that's artistic and practical and meaningful - to not only me, but for other people. It also allows me to become a better person by experiencing more things, parts of people's lives that a lot of people wouldn't experience, unless it happened to themselves.

Maybe I feel that's the best way I can express myself. If I can't do it through my own words, maybe it's through my own eyes or through the words of other people.
Do you see your work as permanent?
No. It's always changing. The work I have done, it's going to be there. It's going to be representative of something that happened, but it's always evolving.

The daily effect you can have on people is important. You're creating this historical record, but you're also showing people something about that daily. You're showing them a viewpoint on that.
Do you want to influence behaviors of others?
No. That can be a result of what we do, but it's more about showing people a perspective that they might not have seen, or might make them wonder about what's important to them or what other people are going through.

What drives me? Maybe it's the thought that I can connect people to stuff that can bring their own lives into perspective.
What advice do you have for young photojournalists?
Right now - in this current time in photojournalism, because the market is very saturated with very talented, passionate photographers, who are really good at what they do - in order to do that and compete with that, you really have to make it a lifestyle more than a job.

In this case, you'd have to make it more than just going to class to go out there. You have to really want to do this to compete with that market. Really get into whatever you're doing.

It's important to think of it not only as a major, but as something that you will potentially do for the rest of your life. Something that - in order to do it for the rest of your life - you really need to put your whole self into it now and grow as quickly as possible. Reach out to people who you look up to.
How important was your education to your career and why?
It was important in getting me started. At UF we don't have a huge photo program. We only have two full-time professors and one visiting professor. So, it's a good launching pad for me to be introduced to the field. I did not know much about it before I came here.

What's made me grow most is internships. The majority of my growth has been through my own initiative - applying to internships repeatedly and getting turned down tons and tons of times but finally coming up with something and taking that opportunity to really push myself to take advantage of the opportunity and then come back here and work in class to do what I want to do - not just do the bare minimum, but do something meaningful to me and also reach out to my professors and treat that like a mentor relationship more than a teacher-student relationship.

The classes here are good, but there are schools like Ohio University and Western that are much bigger and better and more competitive. We don't really see it here. A lot of younger students don't see it here, but we're competing against that - we're competing with everybody in the nation. So, you really have to go the extra length to make it work.

Most of what I've learned has been achieved from internships.
How did you choose UF?
I'm from Florida. I'm from the Tampa area. It was free. I got scholarships, and we've got Bright Futures. It pays for tuition. Well, it's not entirely free. My parents had a Florida Prepaid Plan. Basically, they were putting money gradually ever since I was very young into an account for college. Florida has a couple of programs. Basically, I was able to get school for free.

So, that was - obviously - a motivating factor. My brother went here. I came here to study environmental science.

Growing up, I was always interested in taking photos. On family vacations, I was always the one with the camera. In high school, my sister gave me the camera that our grandfather gave her once he passed. That was when I first explored it a bit.

But, I had never taken it seriously until I got here. I started studying environmental science, and I got burned out on taking chemistry and biology and stuff I really wasn't interested in. So I thought about journalism.

I took an Intro to Journalism class, and it motivated me to explore it a bit further and eventually found that I was able to combine my interest in photography with something that was more practical. So, that's how I started. It took off from there.

I started shooting a bit for the school newspaper, and they hired me a little later. I just picked it up pretty quickly.

It's not like I popped out of the womb wanting to be a photojournalist. It kind of came to me and happened. I feel fortunate that I was able to find something that I truly love and that I'm somewhat good at.
When did you transition?
It was my second semester in college. I took a semester of environmental science - all kinds of science classes. The next semester, I took some of those classes as well, but I also took an Intro to Journalism class. That's where the professor - his name is Dr. William McKeen - he taught that class. He's very excited and very motivated. He makes you feel you can change the world and all these ideas.

I got motivated by him in that class. So I decided to take the next class, which is a writing class. Here, the photo program is part of the journalism program. It's not necessarily a four-year program. You have to take a couple of prerequisites before you can take the photo classes. One of those is a writing class.

You write a story a week in lab. I was taking photos on my own and trying to shoot for the school newspaper. Eventually that took off, and I ended up falling into the journalism photo classes and doing pretty well with this.

Please also see Part C of this interview.

Enough for now,

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