As any professional will tell you, the face of photojournalism has changed dramatically with the advent of the Internet and business is as competitive as ever. One such professional is the Palisadian-Post’s own staff photographer, Rich Schmitt, who makes his living finding the right shot and finding it quickly. “I sometimes shoot for the various wire services,” Schmitt says. “Time is a factor when shooting for them. You have to get the shots they expect and transmit the photos via e-mail to meet their deadlines. Photojournalism today has a lot to do with quickly moving photos up on the wire. Either you move it, or you lose it to the competition.” Whether shooting a last-minute picture for the Post or rushing to meet deadline for a daily publication, Schmitt brings a sense of professionalism to his craft. Though he is constantly seeking the perfect shot to describe a game or event, he admits fortune favors the bold: “Luck has a lot to do with photojournalism and capturing a great moment. I believe this is true to a certain degree. However, you can’t wait around to get lucky and expect a great moment to come to you. More often than not, you have to go find it. Sort of like digging for gold. And this means working harder for your shots, being persistent, trying different angles, and keeping on the move. I sometimes find that the harder I work for my shots, the better the pay off.” Like most in the industry, Schmitt started with a basic Nikon camera but now uses a high-end digital camera, technology which provides him virtually unlimited space and the ability to erase what he doesn’t like. But even the best equipment needs a trained eye working behind it. “When on assignments, it’s extremely important to thoroughly know your equipment inside and out,” Schmitt says. “You should try and understand as best you can the subject you’re shooting. You try to work quickly and stay focused, trying to get the shots as long as it may sometimes take. This helps get the results that are expected of you.” Schmitt’s most-admired photo journalist is Harry Benson, who shot for Life, People and Time magazines in the 1960s and 70s during the Beatles’ heyday and also brought to life tragic images of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. “A crucial factor I’m finding in photojournalism is access,” Schmitt says. “Sometimes you are only as good as the access you have to a subject or event. Similar to a coach who may only be as good as the players on his team. Then again, what good is access if you don’t know what to do with it or how to use it?” Rich and his wife, Courtney, who accompanies him on many shoots, reside in West L.A.
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