Degree(s): BJ '84 (News-Editorial)
What do you do?
I’ve been a freelance author, photojournalist, and editor 40 years, plus was a staffer and college teacher. I create, publish, donate (including to Smithsonian), display and sell, my documentary/art works. I’ve authored 205+ books so far, including 120+ volumes in my award-winning “Spirit of America” series. My 2019 books include books of photos by me taken in Britain and South Korea, a book of photos I took of Danica Patrick as National Press Club speaker, 2-21-12, a book of photos by me at UW-Madison football game, 9-7-19; biographies of Bert Hardy, James Cameron, and John H. Whale, whom I met and interviewed/worked with in 1981’s Missouri-London Reporting Program as a Sunday Times intern; Spirit of America, Vol. 90: Tiger Spirit (a book of photos by me in Missouri); SA91: Eyes on the Prize in Washington, DC (including photos by me of “Eyes on the Prize” author Juan Williams); SA98: Wonderment, or Alive at 205? (a book of photos I took in-studio of PBS NewsHour, featuring Mizzou alum Jim Lehrer and Judy Woodruff, co-anchors then; the title is based on a story Jim told me about Mizzou’s Dean English); SA108: Remembering Merle Haggard (a book of photos I took at a 2013 Merle Haggard and Strangers concert); SA109: Courage and Light Writing (a book of photos I took of Mass then-new Cardinal Ray Burke presided at in his native La Crosse Diocese); SA110: The Case of the Old Rocky Road, or Writings at Ease and on Deadline Too; SA114: For the Love of People (collaboration by me and Irish fire-fighter/medic/photographer Paul Curran); my 200th book overall, SA115: America Just Ahead (photos mainly by me, including title photo of America riverboat in fog); SA116: Mom and Dad’s 60th Valentine Anniversary Party 2010 (photos taken by me of my parents’ family); and SA118: Rev. Jesse Jackson at UW-LaX 3-29-11 (photos by me of Jesse Jackson speech); and SA119: To Sir and Lady with Love–Excerpts from My British Memoir, and My Accurate Personal History of Photography. My photos of presidential campaigns; writings about photographing and corresponding with St. Mother Teresa; and works about Picture Post’s Bert Hardy and James Cameron, continue being published. And I continue to be Wisconsin’s most-prolific author.
How did you get your job?
Journalism school professors Daryl Moen and Won Ho Chang helped me find my first full-time news job, as lead English-language copy editor for South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
What is the best professional lesson you learned at the J-School?
Taking each day one step at a time; being open-minded, curious, ethical, and focused on people and works I love. Also, not everyone earns big money/fame soon after graduation. I’ve never had personal income of more than $15,000 annually; but my sponsors continue to be generous, including family and friends.
What advice do you have for current students?
Be patient, yet persistent, have a good sense of humor, know the rules (even if in good conscience you need to break some), and improvise adeptly, to achieve your goals. It also helps to have good family, friends and other readers to share your positive works with. Prayer and serendipity don’t hurt either.
What is your favorite J-School memory?
I have three from my years at Mizzou. I did a Missourian photo-story for Prof. Veita Jo Hampton’s class in 1980 on a five-year-old boy born with spina bifida. And Prof. Ernie Morgan wrote to me about my Missourian report edited by John H. Whale, about a tense 1981 meeting between Britain’s Cardinal Basil Hume and 50 IRA relatives at Westminster Catholic Cathedral: “The story is good. Good writing.” Also, my parents attended my J-School graduation, a great event. In addition, early in 2018, Sue Schuermann, Mizzou J-School Senior Library Specialist, created a web-page for many of my works including my “Spirit of America” series, where PDFs can be read/viewed. I’m very grateful to Ms. Schuermann for that and related things.
Any additional comments?
Mizzou’s was the first my parents and I attended of my three university graduations. Held outdoors, I’ve been told I chain-smoked during it. I quit smoking permanently in 1989 when I returned to Columbia, Mo., to work in a news mail-room. We lived in Columbia six months then, when my son Matt was two.
Updated: December 4, 2019