Archive for Saturday, February 6, 1993


February 6, 1993


Ideas, not equipment, are what make a photographer successful, says an award-winning photojournalist whose work is on display at Kansas University.

"The people who will be successful in this business are people with ideas and people who can develop their craft," said David Burnett, a free-lance photographer whose work has appeared in Time, Life, U.S. News & World Report and other publications.

"Forget about art, that will come later."

Burnett's work is on display at the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art as part of the exhibit, "Contact: Photojournalism Since Vietnam."

The exhibit, which features more than 120 images, will be on display through March 14. It chronicles more than 15 years of people, events, trends and issues that have shaped recent history.

BURNETT, who has covered the White House, Olympics and conflicts in Vietnam and Chile, was to give a slide presentation of his photographs this morning at the museum.

He said during an interview Friday afternoon that technical aspects of photography have changed tremendously since 1963, when he began taking pictures professionally.

"All the new automatic stuff is really amazing," he said. "It would've been something although not unheard of that you would've craved for 20 years ago."

Burnett said advanced photo equipment has given most people the ability to "pick up a camera and get a reasonably well-exposed shot."

But he said, "There is a proliferation of people running around with automatic cameras thinking that's all it takes but it takes more than that."

BURNETT SAID capturing "100 percent of a story" still hasn't changed in photography.

"The only thing that matters is if you are going to tell a story, tell 100 percent of the story," he said.

He said television has contributed in few ways toward capturing good images.

"All it does is try and do things in the easiest, quickest possible way," he said, adding that in many news stories, "The picures aren't telling you anything. If you turn down the sound, you realize there's nothing there."

Burnett said it is important for photojournalists to have skepticism, especially when covering politics and news conferences.

"I think skepticism is the healthiest feeling a journalist can have," he said. "It's not because you're a bad guy and you can't trust people, but it's so you can ask `Is what you're really looking at only what they want you to see?'"

FROM 1970 to 1972 Burnett took photos in Vietnam for Life magazine. He won an award in 1973 for his coverage of the aftermath of the coup in Chile.

He also won awards for "Mary Decker's fall" in the 1984 Olympics, and for a sports feature on Art Monk of the Washington Redskins in 1991.

He currently lives in Washington, D.C.

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