What I Learned About Journalism From Ozier Muhammad

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Duke Ellington leading his orchestra in Chicago. (1972) Photo by Ozier Muhammad

When I was in high school I used to think that being a photojournalist meant being this incredibly brave, fearless individual, who would rush into bomb sites and war zones, looking for that perfect photograph to send back overseas. Maybe my imagination was far too active, or I had seen too many movies, but regardless, listening to Ozier Muhammad speak about his career reminded me that in actuality, the life of a photojournalist is a humble one.

“Always be prepared for an opportunity for a dynamic image”, he said to the class.

And that’s all it really is, isn’t it? Muhammad has won numerous awards over the years and has worked at several big name publications, but at the end of the day, the most important thing to do as a photojournalist is to simply always be ready for that next brilliant moment to place itself in front of you.

Naturally, taking photographs several decades ago meant carrying around film and developing it in a dark room. Nowadays, we can easily snap photos on our phones and digital cameras, but every photographer should still have basic knowledge of what makes up a good shot, just as every journalist should have basic knowledge of what makes up a good story.

And of course, don’t ever leave the house without extra batteries.

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