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BEST OF 2013, Kathy Anderson
New Orleans, LA
Project: Complex assignment for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau that entailed working together with other photographers to shoot corporate PR photos at the Super Bowl.

© Kathy Anderson Photography

© Kathy Anderson Photography

Kathy Anderson skillfully transformed a complex Super Bowl shoot into a team-building experience with former New Orleans Times-Picayune (NOTP) colleagues, with whom she reunited to capture corporate PR imagery of this worldwide event. They tackled every hurdle with their photojournalist chops, covering all angles from Beyoncé to Bourbon Street.

“The client was delighted with the images, which went beyond the obvious event photography,” Anderson says. “The great feeling of working with former NOTP colleagues — who all lost their jobs when the newspaper downsized in 2012 — made this assignment more than a job. It was a family reunion.”

ASMP: How long have you been in business? Kathy Anderson: 31 years.

ASMP: How long have you been an ASMP member?

KA: I’ve been an ASMP member since 1993.

ASMP: What are your photographic specialties?

KA: Editorial, advertising and stock photography,

ASMP: What do you consider your most valuable tool or piece of equipment?

KA: My ability to understand exactly what a client needs is the most valuable tool I have.

ASMP: What is unique about your style or approach? What sets you and your work apart from other photographers?

KA: Over the years I’ve gained insights that help fulfill each job. I’ve organized and worked with clients and people from all walks of life. As a project coordinator, my past experience plays into the decision-making process. As a photographer my ability to put people at ease on the other side of the camera, my appreciation for seeing and creating interesting light, and the ability to react and change directions on a dime (as all newspaper photographers do), are my strengths.

ASMP: How did you get this assignment from the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau? Had you worked with this client previously? Did you approach them or did they approach you?

KA: I responded to a Request for Proposal from the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. I had never worked with the client previously.

ASMP: At what point in the planning process did you decide to team up with fellow former New Orleans Times-Picayune (NOTP) photographers? Had you worked together as a team on prior assignments?

KA: I considered the photo staff a team (and a family) the entire 28 years that I worked at the newspaper. We collaborated on many events over the years. Having my husband, former NOTP photo editor Doug Parker, working with me on coordinating the events was crucial to the success of the project. He did much of the editing of the thousands of images produced that week.

ASMP: How did you put the team together and how much planning was required in coordinating schedules, availability and the like?

KA: Putting together the team was a no-brainer for me. The photographers I had worked with at the newspaper were extremely talented, able to think on their feet and had experience in navigating the city during big events such as Mardi Gras.

ASMP: Who decided what and where to shoot? Did you submit a preliminary proposal, or did the Convention and Visitors Bureau give you an outline or shot list?

KA: I consulted with Doug Parker on who would be the best shooter for particular assignments. He had worked with these photographers for years and knew what each one was capable of producing. The Convention and Visitors bureau provided a long list of events they wanted to be covered.

ASMP: How many events were covered during this assignment and over what period of time?

KA: Our first shoot was a couple of weeks before the Super Bowl. The majority of assignments started seven days prior to the game. Dozens of events were covered.

ASMP: Although everyone was experienced navigating the city during major events, what were some of the logistics involved in getting from one event to another? What were the biggest challenges?

KA: The biggest challenge was gridlocked traffic, because some of the streets were closed and thousands of people were coming into the city. The photographers on the team have travelled the backstreets of New Orleans for years. That is the advantage to hiring local photographers.

ASMP: What modes of transportation and team-member-to-team-member communication were used?

KA: We had arranged rides for some people. We had to send a taxi for one photographer. One of our photographers rode on a ferry from the west bank of the Mississippi River and walked into the French Quarter. It proved to be the most convenient solution.

ASMP: Please provide brief profiles of the other photographers you worked with on this assignment and what they had been doing since leaving the NOTP.

KA: Photo editor (and my husband) Doug Parker is working with me to help grow our client list. Rusty Costanza and Susan Poag have started a business of school and team sports photography that includes on-site printing of events. Scott Threlkeld continues his editorial and commercial photography.

ASMP: What other skills and experience did various team members — including yourself — bring to this project, in addition to photojournalism skills and knowledge of the local area?

KA: Having a photo editor (Doug Parker) who had coordinated the coverage of two previous Super Bowls and dozens of large events, including coverage of Hurricane Katrina, was a key factor for the success of the project. The photographers we worked with had experience covering Super Bowls and knew the city well.

ASMP: Did any of the members of your team shoot video?

KA: The Convention and Visitors Bureau hired a separate video company for this event.

ASMP: How much content was produced during the assignment?

KA: Our team shot thousand of images.

ASMP: You mention the client was “delighted with the images that went beyond the obvious ‘event coverage.’” Please describe some of those images and how they were captured.

KA: Our client was especially delighted with the images of fireworks on the river because of the dramatic light and action, and the final shot of the Superdome at dusk. There were lots of ooh’s and aah’s when I showed these images at the final meeting with the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Ironically, the very last image I shot for this project was taken from the top of the tower of the Times-Picayune building. I had not been up there since I photographed the city the day after Hurricane Katrina hit. For me this was a cathartic experience because, in 2005, I was photographing a dying city from that tower. I had pictures of people walking on the interstate desperately trying to escape, water was rising, the damaged roof of the Superdome was shocking — I really thought that was the death of New Orleans. Just watching the lights come up on a beautifully repaired Superdome with a gorgeous skyline the night of the Super Bowl made me feel like the city had come full circle and maybe I had too. It had been a difficult transition from staff photographer to running a business. It still is. That moment when the sun was setting and lights were coming up was magical for me.

ASMP: Outside of your past work at the NOTP, had you previously collaborated with (or been invited to work with) any of the photographers you invited to participate in this assignment?

KA: I had not worked with any of the photographers outside of the newspaper previously.

ASMP: You say that working with former NOTP colleagues was “more than a job. It was more like a family reunion.” Please describe some situations or interactions that best illustrate this statement.

KA: I feel like I grew up with some of these photographers. We made the transition from black-and-white film to color and then later on from film to digital. We experienced the evolution of photography together and we had all survived Katrina.

ASMP: You and your colleagues lost your jobs when the NOTP downsized in 2012. Given that experience, and more recent events such as the situation at the Chicago Sun Times, what is your opinion about the future of newspaper photojournalism?

KA: I took a buyout in 2010 and was not part of the 2012 downsizing. The rest of the team had all been let go in 2012. Newspaper photojournalism is being redefined as companies search for a business model to support it.

ASMP: Please tell us about the post-shoot process of gathering, organizing and editing images. Did all team members upload images to one central server? How was this coordinated, and what role did various team members play in this process?

KA: I had each photographer deliver a flash drive or two of their entire take of large Raw images. One photographer could not fit his on a flash drive (64 gigs) and brought a hard drive to my home. We ingested everything and then began the editing and toning process. Doug Parker did the majority of the editing.

ASMP: What was the turn-around time between image capture and use? Was any of the coverage streamed live from events? If so, what kind of workflow was employed for that?

KA: We uploaded some of the images to Dropbox a couple of times during the week. The rest were delivered on flash drives three weeks after the final event.

ASMP: How did you decide which images to submit to the client? Did you or any of your colleagues work with editors or techs in making image selections and processing files?

KA: I worked with Doug Parker. The two of us made the final edit.

ASMP: Did you, or other team members, meet with the client in person? Were the images delivered in folders or as a presentation? Please describe the entire process.

KA: Doug Parker and I met with the client for an initial interview and then again for the final presentation of images. We showed the images on a laptop.

ASMP: Given the complex nature of this assignment with multiple stakeholders, what kind of arrangement was made for payment of assignment fees? Were you the point person, or did each photographer invoice the client and get paid directly?

KA: A deposit was paid upon the signing of the contract and I paid the other photographers.

ASMP: Were there ancillary costs involved, such as rental gear or costs for digital processing to work out? If so, how were these types of costs handled?

KA: We absorbed all of the ancillary costs.

ASMP: What did you and the other team members gain — professionally and personally — from this assignment? In what ways will this project benefit your business or the businesses of your colleagues?

KA: We gained a sense of pride of our profession and our city. For the past three years, I have been trying to figure out how to monetize the skills of a photojournalist. Now I realize the value this has to corporations and institutions.

ASMP: In retrospect, what would you have done differently? Why?

KA: I think the two weeks of shooting went well. Both our team and the client were very pleased with our effort.

ASMP: Based on your experiences with this assignment and the trend of photographers working collaboratively as part of a team, what role do you think collaborating with other photographers will play in the future of the industry?

KA: I hope to make this type of collaboration a big part of my future because I found it so rewarding.

ASMP: Given your recent experiences with this job and your past history as a newspaper photographer, do you have any words of advice for young or aspiring photographers just starting out?

KA: They need to be prepared to work in a turbulent job market. New photographers have to have multifaceted abilities in video, audio and digital imagery. They need to be technologically ready for whatever is next.

ASMP: What’s next for you? Are you planning any other collaborative shoots or projects?

KA: I hope to expand to more team shoots that utilize the storytelling abilities of photojournalism.