David Marcou

Freelance author, photojournalist and editor

David Marcou

Degree(s): BJ '84 (News-Editorial)

What do you do?

I’ve been a freelance author, photojournalist, and editor almost 50 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 335+ book-titles so far, including 250+ volumes in my award-winning “Spirit of America” book-series. My book-titles include books of photos by me taken in Britain and South Korea; a book of photos by me with text too of Danica Patrick as National Press Club main speaker, 2-21-12; books of photos by me at UW-Madison men’s varsity football games; 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 reporting intern (also, my best photo-portrait of Bert Hardy and his dogs Lizzie and Kim is in the Photos Collection of the Brit National Portrait Gallery, NPGx126230) ; Spirit of America, Vol. 90: Tiger Spirit (a book of photos taken by me in Missouri in two+decades); SA98: Wonderment, or Alive at 205? (a book of photos I took in-studio of PBS NewsHour staff, featuring Mizzou alum Jim Lehrer’s unofficial retirement photos by me and photos by me of Judy Woodruff, et. al.; the title is based on a comic 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 in La Crosse); SA109: Courage and Light Writing (a book of photos I took of a Mass of Thanksgiving then-new Crd. Ray Burke presided at in his native La Crosse Diocese at La Crosse’s St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral–Crd. Burke had been archbishop of St. Louis too; he was also the first US head of the Vatican supreme court); SA110: The Case of the Old Rocky Road, or Writings at Ease and on Deadline Too; SA116: Mom and Dad’s 60th Valentine Anniversary Party 2010 (photos taken by me of my parents’ and family at one of our parents’ biggest parties); and SA118: Rev. Jesse Jackson at UW-LaX 3-29-11 (photos by me of Jesse Jackson speech, etc.); and SA119: To Sir and Lady with Love–Excerpts from My British Memoir, and My Personal History of Photography. Co-author Paul Curran & I also did a world photo-history in 2 volumes (SA171 & SA176). My photos of presidential campaigns (no fewer than 6 eventual presidents photographed by me); writings about photographing and corresponding with St. Mother Teresa; & my photos of Viterbo U. Holocaust Survivor Guest Speakers, especially Elie Wiesel (Nobel Peace Laureate & founding chair of USHMM) & Eva Schloss (Anne Frank’s step-sister). Also, I did a re-issue of SA1 recently (i.e., SA216), & a re-issue of American Eyes, 5th Ed. (i.e., SA228) with my son, Matthew, & with an Introduction by Jon Tarrant (a former editor of the British Journal of Photography). Recently, I also did an expanded version of Fame & Fortune, a photobook. I continue to be one of the world’s most-prolific living book authors, & am likely the US’s most prolific living book author as well. In recent years, an Irish fire medic/county administrator/photographer/family patriarch, Paul Curran, has also creatively contributed photos by him & family & some of his writings to the SA book-series. And I free-lanced for 40+ years in national/international mags & newspapers, plus researched, wrote, & revised for WI newspapers, & recently saw published a very detailed report about the 15+mysterious riverdeaths at La Crosse, WI I’d worked on since 1997 (& added a section recently about the deaths of young people in WI generally, a comparatively large percentage nationally), plus many other groundbreaking books, articles, short stories, dramas, poems, photos, etc.

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 National News Agency, starting in Aug. 1984.

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 not so far 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; Family of Man Curator/MOMA Photo Dept. Director and World-Famous Photographer Edward Steichen broke some key design rules when he was a boy), 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 a few 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 & great spirit & sense of humor. And Profs. Kennedy & Morgan convinced me to take chances once in a while. Prof. George Kennedy, when I was almost ready to travel to London for the Sunday Times internship program, that professor asked me to cover a severe wind/rain storm in Columbia; though shy about it due to wanting to prepare for London near take-off time, I did cover that storm, & my story was titled “It Wasn’t Business As Usual”. Prof. Ernie Morgan said a couple weeks’ earlier, when I told him my grades were poor and maybe I shouldn’t go to London, “you’ll regret it, David, the rest of your life, if you don’t go to London now”. Ernie Morgan also wrote to me about my Missourian London report edited by John H. Whale that autumn semester, in which I covered a tense 1981 meeting between Britain’s Cardinal Basil Hume and 50 IRA relatives at Westminster Catholic Cathedral in London: “The story is good. Good writing.” In addition, my parents attended my J-School graduation in Columbia in May 1984, a great event.

Additional Comments

Mizzou was the first school my parents and I attended 1 of my three university graduations for; we hadn’t been to the previous 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 maybe six months then, when my son Matthew was two. Matt now has a very successful career of his own as an electrical engineer, after his military service & his graduation MCL from a Philadelphia university. He and his partner live & work in north-eastern Illinois, & Matt recently completed Johns Hopkins U’s Online MS Program in Environmental Sciences Etc. (early 2024).

Updated: April 24, 2024