Capturing the emotion and special moments
Included in last week’s record number of awards given to the Steele County Times was one that the newspaper has never achieved before.
I was fortunate enough to win the press photographer’s portfolio for a variety of photos taken throughout the year. This is an especially difficult award to win because it’s open to photographers at all weekly newspapers in Minnesota. Circulation divides most of the other categories in the contest so you are competing with fewer entries.
The honor earned my photos getting displayed prominently on the cover of the Better Newspaper Contest, which highlights all the awards given out to journalists across the state.
Winning this award brings me back to my roots in community journalism. I began as a cub photographer in eighth grade for my hometown newspaper in Brownton. I was lucky enough to have a boss who allowed me to tinker around with the camera and take lots of photos of sporting events and eventually other community events.
I have always believed in the importance of photographs in the newspaper. The old saying, “A picture is worth more than a 1,000 words” certainly holds true, especially today when people’s attention is divided in so many ways. Many people don’t want to take time to read stories.
Photos have the ability to enhance a news story in an effort to make it more understandable to the reader. It would be hard to imagine our world today without pictures.
One thing I strive for in any of my photographs is to show human emotion. It’s important to focus on the faces of people, not on their backs or the backs of their heads. I generally like my photos to show people, emotion, action and something extraordinary or unusual. A 4-H member giving her pet goat a big smooch just before show time comes to mind as a photo that encompasses all of those qualities.
Besides the kissing goat photo, my portfolio also included photos of the Blooming Prairie football team winning the state championship, the Bakery fire, a man decorating for the holidays and a young boy learning how to golf with the watchful eye of his father. There was a good mixture of news, sports, feature and portrait photos.
In commenting about my winning portfolio, the judges said: “All of the photos in the
portfolio were very good and captured the emotions and moments—drawing the viewer in.”
My passion for photography isn’t just professional. It carries over to home, as well. I’m always taking photos, sometimes to the point of driving my kids crazy.
It probably comes as no surprise that I took special interest in a book, “100 Photographs,” recently published by Time. It revealed what Time considered as the most influential images of all time and offered the stories behind the pictures. Some of the most powerful photos included in the book are Abraham Lincoln in 1860, a flag raising on Iwo Jima in 1946, a falling man from a skyscraper during 9/11 and a man on the moon in 1969.
Receiving awards is great, but my hope more than anything is the journalism, whether it’s stories or photos, that we provide each week connects with readers in a profound way. I want readers to trust us and rely on us for quality hometown news every week.
For now, I’m in hot pursuit of chasing down another photo or two to help readers understand their communities better.
Photo: This is the cover of the Better Newspaper Contest published by the Minnesota Newspaper Association. The cover showcases Rick Bussler’s photographs as part of the winning press photographer’s portfolio for weekly newspapers in Minnesota.