Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from the Arizona Press Club’s Photojournalist of the Year, Kelly Presnell of the Arizona Daily Star. Kelly is a six-time National Press Photographers Association Regional Photographer of the Year and has been recognized in other contests including Best of the West, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, NPPA and the Associated Press.
Kelly, time to share:
I started taking photos in junior high, back in Wichita, Kan. I took some photography classes in high school, but ended up shooting a ton in college, at Friends University. I was also staffing and editing the yearbook, doing some freelance work for the student paper and taking an odd job or two for some very dodgy publications. I graduated with two arts degrees. Go figure.
When I was in grad school at Wichita State, I saw a job listing for a staff photographer in Iola, Kan. I decided to apply to see what the process was like and what kind of photos people were looking for. I ended up dropping out, leaving Doodah and taking the job, working there for about three years. I’ve been shooting for papers one way or another since then.
I started at the Iola Register, went to the Junction City (Kan.) Daily Union, freelanced for a while in Wichita doing a lot of work for the Wichita Eagle and on staff at the Salina (Kan.) Journal. I then migrated east and freelanced in Virginia for three years, mainly for the Virginian-Pilot, but also did some work for the Washington Post, New York Times Magazine and others.
I came out here to Tucson in 2003.
I get asked about my favorite images a lot, and I’m never sure how to answer it. When I spend time going through my images, I usually just spot the flaws. I have Aha! moments, but after I push the button, I’m usually thinking I should have been sooner, or later, or over there, or lower, or back or closer or something. I hit an image every now and then, and think, “Hey, that’s all right.” I’m still not sure how to answer that. I’m not sure I can.
I was back through Iola a few years after I left for Junction City, and I stopped for gas. While I was filling up, a young girl, teenager, got out of the car behind me at the pumps and walked up to me and said, “I wish you were still our photographer.” It still hits me to this day what she said and that I can have that kind of effect on people just by pushing a button. It’s a whole lot of responsibility, but what I do still matters. Maybe not in a Watergate kind of way, but in an everyday kind of way.
When I’m not working I read a lot. I kind of veg out when I’m not on. I’ll chase some weather every now and then, take a hike when my knees cooperate. My work weeks are usually kind of full so I generally just want to decompress. I’m kind of boring.