Note: This is a twin post from my new Q&A blog, 3 (or so) questions. From now on, I’ll just post notices that I have a new Q&A up over there. Yes, I know there are such things as RSS feeds, but, be honest — don’t you subscribe to enough blogs?
I’ve always been a little jealous of Adam Gerik. He’s a talented photographer, but also a consummate skinny nerd who is not ashamed of the fact. Adam, who is 27, describes himself as a “visual journalist” for the Peoria Journal Star daily newspaper. He’s been a photographer there for nearly four years and now oversees video production for pjstar.com, the paper’s Web presence. When I was religion editor at the JS, I was always grateful to work with him. He was able to capture images that complemented the story but still stood on their own. In fact, I became so impressed over the years by his work that I took to calling him “Gerik the Great.” It just seemed to work. And it just seemed right that he would be the first subject of 3 (or so) questions. — MM
1. Why do you ride trains instead of fly or drive?
Perhaps it’s my way of rebelling against my Kansas roots, where the pavement is king and trains only roll through in the middle of the night. I had never ridden Amtrak before moving to Illinois. In fact, I was so absolutely train naive that a smartass conductor told me the toilets were $3 and I reached for my wallet. (http://ofadam.com/2005/11/announcement-2/) Oddly enough, I had only flown as a little kid before making Peoria my home… and although flying as an adult seemed magical at first, it soon lost its appeal after I saw a video of cattle being led to pasture and I now avoid it if I can. Time is valuable, but I consider train time to be twice as valuable as plane time.
And if you’re an anachronistic fetishist, the rails win every time.
2. What about video can never give you the satisfaction of still photography?
Well, video can’t stroke my ego like a still photo can (or at least not yet!). I’ll pretend that I’m kidding, but it’s nice jamming newsprint stained with my byline into a person’s face when meeting for the first time. I suppose I could haul my laptop everywhere, or actually use the YouTube application on my phone, but there’s something about paper that screams importance. We’ll have to get past that if there’s any hope for journalism surviving in a state we recognize.
I think we tend to remember events as photographs and not as moving images. Video presentation online leaves a lot to be desired, and if we keep improving the quality and size of the display, this may make me more satisfied in producing videos. I have my fingers crossed.
3. How will photography suffer when daily print dies?
If you’d asked me this question a few years ago, I would have agreed with you. But sites like Boston’s Big Picture (http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/) really show that web presentation can equal or even exceed traditional print presentation models. We here in Peoria are fortunate to have a printing press that won a Top 50 color in the world award a few years ago, but we’re definitely in the minority… most communities suffer on printing presses designed for black and white, not color. It’s just a matter of getting newspaper editors to realize that running large photos online is just as worthwhile as doing it in the print editions.
What I am concerned about is the devaluing of content online. When everything is free, how can you pay people what they’re really worth?
4. Why do men without shirts often pop up in your photos?
Is this an ambush interview?!