Photographer’s Q&A – David Lucas
This week’s Q&A is with David Lucas, photo editor at The Globe and Mail.
A man fishes in a pond, created by the tsunami in 2004, in front of what’s left of a home on the shore of the Indian Ocean in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on Sunday, December 4, 2005. Banda Aceh was the hardest hit region of the tsunami that hit on December 26, 2004. (Photo by David Lucas)
What were your first steps in the industry?
I took an internship with The Canadian Press in Ottawa and had to hit the ground running covering Royal visits, federal elections and any other assignments that CP photographers Fred Chartrand and Tom Hanson could come up with. Not all the assignments made the wire but they all made me a better photographer.
When you were a student, what did you want to do after graduation, and are you where you thought you would be now?
I really wanted to be a conflict photographer. At the time, it seemed very exciting to travel around the world and get in the thick of things to tell a story. There was no way I was ready for that then.
I’m very excited to be where I am now. I was planning on moving my career in the direction of editing a little later, but when an opportunity comes up you have to jump at it.
I went from a staff job covering Hurricane Rita and the anniversary of the 2004 tsunami to assistant photo editor of Canada’s national newspaper. Both very exciting jobs in their own way.
What or who are your biggest inspirations?
That would have to be the photographers and editors at the paper. They are always pushing the envelope and trying new things which force you to do the same. I also collect photo books by photographers such as Eugene Richards and James Nachtwey. Looking at the work they produce just makes you want to go out and really step it up.
Do you have a mentor?
Not right now. I had many when I was a photographer. I think mentors are harder to find once you become an editor. I’m always picking the brains of the other editors here at The Globe and everyone has lots of feedback and ideas to share.
What was a pivotal point in your career?
There have been a couple. Getting a call from Ron Polling (at The Canadian Press), when I was freelancing in Ottawa only a month or two out of school, telling me I should apply for the desk job at CP in Toronto was the first one. It really got me to where I am today and it helped me be a better photographer.
The second, I would say, was meeting Jayson Taylor at the Northern Short Course in ’07. It was a tough point in my career: more layoffs had just hit the Toronto Sun where I was the newest staffer, and I really thought there were even more to come. I had been talking with Moe Doiron at The Globe about job prospects but wasn’t 100% sure it was the right time for me to make the move to editing.
Sitting with Jayson and Globe photographer Deb Baic in a bar a couple of nights in a row during the NSC convinced me it was time for a change. A couple of months later I was at The Globe.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working in the Report On Business (ROB) section at The Globe and I’m trying to change the type of pictures we use and integrate more multimedia into the section. There are typically a lot of white men in suits in the ROB and we are trying to move away from that and become more diverse with our use of images.
How important to you is multimedia?
Very important. I can’t stress enough how everyone needs to know how to do this stuff. We recently finished a large project on pensions where we included a lot of multimedia (video, interactive graphics, discussions) and our readers ate it up. They couldn’t get enough of it and that’s what we need on a daily basis. Not only is it a great way to tell a story but it gets them involved. The more we can engage our readers, the more they will come back to see what we do next.
Munaro, 3, sits in the door way of her temporary housing as her mother Nasriah plays with her son as father Mahmudin looks on outside Banda Aceh on Sunday, December 4, 2005. Banda Aceh was the hardest hit region of the tsunami that hit on December 26, 2004. (Photo by David Lucas)
How do you ensure you are progressing as a visual journalist?
I try to look at new web sites, newspapers, magazines – whatever I can get my hands on – on a daily basis. I like to see what everyone else is trying and bring a little of that to my section. I work with some great designers and it helps to have people like them to bounce things off of and get feed back on ideas.
What are some of the must-see websites you visit? Please include why you visit these sites (e.g. inspiration, guidance, information, education).
I like to check out the front pages from around the world and see what everyone came up with and think about why/how they did things.
They always have great work up and I’m always finding a new photographer to check out.
Some really great work here. I could get lost here for hours checking stuff out.
What is your favorite way to unwind?
Well, I have a two-and-half-month-old son with whom I try to spend as much time with as I can. I was watching him look at a spot of light that was shining on the wall and I realized that he’s never seen that before. I find that I’m now looking around with new eyes on everything and it’s very humbling and exciting.
Workers harvest rice in Lamno, Indonesia, December 5, 2005. Lamno had recently had the first rice harvest since the tsunami hit the area almost a year ago. (Photo by David Lucas)
What’s the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you about being a photographer?
Well, it’s not just for photographers: Treat everyone with the respect you want to be treated with.
It’s amazing what a difference it makes to a subject, the police, security guard, or anyone your dealing with if you are pleasant and respectful. I’ve seen so many photographers get told no just because they were being pushy or demanding.