Q&A with photojournalist Bill Frakes: ‘Initiate, don’t imitate’

Long-time Sports Illustrated photographer Bill Frakes has worked in some 138 countries and all 50 of the United States. Recently, he launched The Nebraska Project, a website of stunning photography and videos he has taken in his home state of Nebraska.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | January 4, 2015

A former Newspaper Photographer of the Year winner, Frakes also worked for The Miami Herald for more than a decade and was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Hurricane Andrew.

On 12-13 January, he will lead a WAN-IFRA training in Singapore on combining still and video photography. In this email interview with us, Frakes discusses the reception to The Nebraska Project and offers advice for young professional photographers.

WAN-IFRA: The Washington Post recently published a series of images from your Nebraska Project. What kind of feedback have you received since the Nebraska pictures were published and has any of it surprised you?

Frakes: has gotten a tremendous response. At least one of the videos, A Little Nebraska Town, went viral immediately earning the singer, Rachel Price, a recording contract and a concert tour. The two biggest newspapers in the state both ran really nice, big stories about the project – the paper in the capital devoted the majority of their front page of their Sunday paper to their coverage of the project.

What are some of the newspapers, and their related websites, that are making the best use of photography today? Who impresses you?

The two papers who do the best job in the United States are The New York Times and The Washington Post. The other great website in the US belongs to a radio network, NPR.

What advice do you have for a young photojournalist just getting started in his/her career?

The most important things for young photojournalists remain the same as they always have. Work hard. Master the craft. Initiate, don’t imitate.

You work in both still photography and video, and you train photojournalists to do video. What’s the hardest part for most traditional photojournalists when learning video – is there a common hurdle for them to get past?

Desire. They either have it or they don’t. The skill sets are interchangeable and expandable.

Click here for more information and to register for the upcoming WAN-IFRA workshop on working with video that Frakes will be leading in Singapore.

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