Welcome back to the “Conversation Series” with this week’s guest photojournalist David Butow. David and I met several decades ago and I’ve followed his career ever since. Photojournalism is a semi-misunderstood field but still serves as one of the most critical functions of photography, at least in my opinion.
Working as a photojournalist involves training, a vetting process, and a serious responsibility. I’ve always viewed David as one of the “good guys” in this industry. His skill and commitment behind the camera are revealed by both his coverage and his awards. David worked in locations like Afghanistan, Myanmar, Iraq, Peru, and others. He covered stories on post 9/11 New York, the Palestine/Israeli Intifada, the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the China earthquake in 2008, the funeral of Nelson Mandela, the Hong Kong protests of 2019, and spent the last five years covering politics in Washington. His list of awards includes World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, Photo District News, National Press Photographers Association, White House News Photographers’ Association, Communication Arts, and more.
David and I discuss his photographic origin story, his early training, his rise through the newspaper and magazine worlds, his work with US News & World Report Magazine, personal vs professional projects, the arrival and impact of the Internet and social media, and his incredible experience covering the events of January 6th, 2021. We also discuss his book “Brink,” which details the entire arc of American politics from late 2015 to early 2021.
As important as what we discussed is what we did not get to discuss due to time restraints. This is good news for all of you because it means there will be a second episode of my conversation with David. My goal with these talks is to introduce you to working photographers. Their life, their story, their training, their experience, and their understanding of what it means to dedicate your life to photography. In a world of influence, these are the folks that are actually rising at dawn to bake the bread.
Photo above: Roman Cho
Photo below: Balazs Gardi