Monday, December 22, 2008

Tim Hussin interview - Part A

© Tim Hussin

Anarchy at the DNC - Pepper Wash - Amanda Hubbard of Denver has water poured over her eyes after she was pepper-sprayed by police.

Please read Tim Hussin's biography, and see the images on his Web site.

John MacDonald stated, "I actually think he's a ghost. His photos come off like he is invisible to his subject matter. Eerie and scary how good he is at this stage in his career. He's a PJ prodigy in my opinion. Good to see some strong recognition this early."

How do you get close to your subjects?
For one, I physically get close to my subjects. I tend to shoot more wide-angle photos. I really try to develop a rapport with the people I'm around when I'm shooting. It lends itself to being able to capture the more intimate moments that would seem like the photographer is invisible.

I've admired a lot of the shooters that are able to do that. Here and there I've come across them while interning at papers. I've always admired that ability to be invisible and have the ability to connect with the subjects to the point where you're able to show that intimacy to somebody else.

I guess that's the main thing. Being able to develop a relationship with the subject is important so they aren't constantly aware of you. Also, allowing yourself enough time to do this is very important.

If you spend enough time with a subject, eventually they'll forget you're there. That's when the pictures are made that really speak to the readers.
Do you plan to spend much time with your subjects?
Ideally I do. Most of my experience is with newspapers. You can't always spend a lot of time with subjects. I try to spend as much time as possible.

With projects, I've been able to spend more time with one family or one person to develop that intimacy.

With a lot of the assignments I've had - a lot of the singles in my portfolio - I haven't really had that much time. It's just a fleeting thing: a fire, a news assignment or whatever the case may be. In that case, I try not to make myself a huge presence in the places I go. I try to be low key. (I) take less camera gear or not being in someone's face constantly so I can blend in and capture these photos.
How does this work with wide-angle lenses?
You can't, but I try not to be so intrusive. I can be next to somebody, but not bother them - not let them know I'm constantly shooting their photo. Maybe it's a matter of not shooting a lot; maybe it's a matter of not trying to be so intrusive.

I do tend to shoot a lot. But, I'm conscious of how somebody is responding to me and how somebody is relating to me when I'm shooting them. I can feel whether it's going well or not going well. I try to make it the best possible situation for myself by being conscious of how a person feels all the time, and how they're reacting to me. In a lot of occasions, I - obviously - don't want them to react to me.

If they are reacting to me, I would step back for a second and give them time to get back into how they are reacting with their environment without me.
How long were you with the Brown family?
I spent about three weeks with them. I think the final frame might have been shot six days after the fire, but I spent more time with them. A couple of frames before were from after the fact.
Tell me about yourself.
I see myself as someone who still has a lot of growing to do. Most photographers, regardless of their talent level, I think everyone can constantly grow. I am in a spot where I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of reinforcement in what I am doing. I've had that to a point where I've been motivated to keep doing it and have been reassured that there is worth in what I'm doing, which is photojournalism story-telling.

I'm in a spot that's pretty exciting for me. I'm graduating in December. I'll be out on the market. It's exciting and kind of scary in the same respect because of how the market is right now.

I've had three internships at newspapers. Once I graduate, I'll take a break from that. I don't think I'm going to try to find a newspaper job - staff job - right away. I want to spend some more time doing documentary work, doing freelance work for magazines and Web sites and develop my multimedia storytelling as well. I've gotten into that a lot the past couple of internships.

I can really see the future in that. It does have a lot of potential and a lot of ability to advance our method of communicating stories to people.

I'm open to what is offered to me. But, as of now, I plan to work on more documentary projects. Although I haven't had the ability to really get into some serious projects, I think that's what I'm interested in pursuing for the next couple of years of my life. Just see where that can take me.
Have you looked at funding?
I've applied for a Fulbright Grant. I suppose that is the main issue. At the same time, I don't expect to live lavishly for the next couple of years. Now is the time when I don't have a family to support or a mortgage. I feel like now is the time I should take that opportunity to really dive into it. Take the little money I do have and put that toward what I really want to do with my life.

Right now, it's continuing telling stories that are meaningful to myself, and that I believe are meaningful to society. Telling stories that can connect people and can take people out of their comfort zone and show them something they've never seen before.
Domestic or international?
Both. Depending on what is offered to me, or what I can find. The Fulbright Grant, for example, I applied to one in Denmark. I'm interested in both.

The main thing for me is to concentrate on one thing that is important to me now and do that.

Right now, I have a lot of ideas, and I need to concentrate on something specific to do something that's powerful. I'm not sure what that is yet.
What is the purpose of your work?
I think the purpose of photojournalism is to connect people through sharing these stories. I think one of the things I see us doing is bringing people to a place that they've never been before and telling them something about it that's meaningful and can relate to their lives.

There are lots of ways to do that. One being the Web. We don't have the barriers of having to go through the newspaper or magazine to have our work seen. The Web has a lot of possibilities - most of which people are exploring. There's newspapers. There's also things like Media Storm that are really on the forefront of that multimedia revolution.
Not yet. I think that's a starting point to do a project like that - a serious documentary project with video and audio and music and put something together. Try to get it out there through the Web or even documentary filmmaking, which is another beast.

I think that's something I'm interested in pursuing. I don't know where the money is going to come for that.

Right now, I'm going to graduate. I tentatively have a gig at The Washington Post available to me and then the National Geographic thing, which is positive. It's what I have now.

I don't know. I could graduate and go straight to doing those things, or I could have a little bit of time to work on the stuff that I've been talking about.

But, I think a delivery system, sure, you could do it through newspapers, through Web sites like Media Storm, through many different nonprofits.

I've got a couple of things lined up, but after that - in the bigger scheme - I'm not sure. A lot of things are changing. I could also make some connections and talk to people in the not-so-distant future, who are getting into these things.

I'm not too worried.
Are you considering a masters degree?
No, not now. I feel like I'm done with school for now. I think that could be an option in the future. I'm ready to get out and do some work.

I have a lot of friends, who are (returning for masters degrees) too. (Ohio University) masters program - I have some friends that have gone from my program - University of Florida - right into there. I know that route too. It could be an option, but I feel like I need to explore and maybe go back after I've seen the options - if that seems like a good option for me.
Noah Rabinowitz asks, "Were you really drunk at the DNC?"
(Laughs) Is that from Noah? I didn't have time to drink at the DNC. I was up too much. I was drunk on not sleeping. And, by the way, Noah made up that name too.

Actually, we kind of came up with it together, but he's the only one that took it seriously for a second until I told him maybe we should change it to something else. We did a blog together. He was my roommate in Denver. He was interning at The Denver Post. I was at The Rocky Mountain News.

That was the name of a blog we came up with and put the alternative view of the DNC up, which got this semi-cult following for a little while.
Rabinowitz stated, "You are obviously pushing yourself not only as a still image maker but as a multimedia producer as well. What mixed media pieces have struck you as being especially effective recently? Why?"
Some of the best work I've seen is on Media Storm. It sets the standard in some ways. I think that works. It's been what I've looked at most as something I'd like to aspire to. I've a way to go, but I don't think it's impossible.

They pull together the audio, video, photos and graphics so it's seamless. I think that's something a lot of people struggle with is trying to connect these media to have them work together to tell a story.

I think there are some people, who are able to do that in a way that you don't flinch when it goes from stills to video or audio all mixed together to become one. I think that's what gives it it's power. Not only the beautiful image-making - the great seeing, the great photographer, the wonderful interviews and the music - but, how it's edited and put together to work as a cohesive piece.
Did you record audio separately or pull from video for the DNC piece?
All the audio was taken from the video. During the DNC, I was recording - I had a video camera and was shooting stills - so I shot a lot of video. At some points, if I needed just audio, I'd take the mic out of the camera bag and hit record and just shoot photos, but have the mic recording audio.

Please also see parts B and C of this interview.

Enough for now,

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