“With the democratization of voices you can start to build an audience and talk to that audience and say what you want to say. You can become your own publishing platform. It can make a difference. It is one of the most exciting times to be a photographer.”

Tyrone Turner is an independent photographer based in Arlington, VA, who has traveled extensively shooting stories focusing on social and environmental issues. As a contributing photographer for National Geographic Magazine, he has produced stories on the disappearing wetlands of Louisiana; increasing hurricane threats; the coasts of the United States; a special issue on hurricane Katrina; the rebuilding of New Orleans, and a cover story on energy efficiency and conservation. Tyrone was part of the Nat Geo team covering the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010. From August, 2014 to August 2015, Tyrone collaborated with the Nat Geo Proof blog, producing still and multimedia stories about New Orleans as the ten year anniversary of Katrina approached.

Tyrone has won awards from the Pictures of the Year competition (POY) as well as The Best of Photojournalism (BOP). He was recently was named as a Fellow with the Virginia Museum of Fine Art for 2016-2017.

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On dealing with the highs and lows

“Everybody goes through highs and lows. The highs are a lot of fun. The lows are hard. If this were easier, then even more people would be doing it. But the lows are when you really need to kind of boil down what you’re doing, and what your vision is. Also really tapping into your community for the support. Then giving that back.”

Advice from his father

“Things are never as bad as they seem. But they’re also never as good.”

On advice to young photographers

“I find that people will take a picture and then escape. And that’s really blowing an opportunity to connect with the person. To get a little bit more.”

On his path to National Geographic

“I did not know how to get to National Geographic, and it seemed like a very long road to get to people at the magazine.”

On the challenges and opportunities of being a photographer today

“As people struggle with the economic models of photography and photojournalism, especially with the media outlets either being smaller, like not as many assignments or not paying that much. There are just not as many jobs out there. It’s really become a smaller marketplace in that way. There’s this real economic challenge. At the same time, there’s just this huge explosion of how you connect to people, and so that’s really heartwarming.”

“With the democratization of voices you can start to build an audience and talk to that audience and say what you want to say. You can become your own publishing platform. It can make a difference. It is one of the most exciting times to be a photographer.”

“The media that’s out there, it saturates, but I think that that’s a real opportunity because then the people who have a little more clearer thing to say, the people who have better pictures, who have something that they’re really passionate about and they can do it in a good way… that stands out amongst the chatter.”

On specializing

“To come to the forefront of someone’s mind, they need to have an image attached to it, so they know who they are going to and why.”

“It seems that what is valuable in the marketplace is being able to stand out for one thing.”

On evaluating his images in the field

“I’m surprised a lot of times by how hit and miss that evaluation is. Sometimes, I’ll come back, and I think, “Man, I really nailed that,” and you know, it’s all right. Sometimes you think, “Man, I didn’t get that,” but then you’re missing what you did get from the situation.”

On shooting difficult and traumatic situations

“Sometimes you’re in situations where it feels like people judge you as pariahs, or of really taking advantage of people, but I don’t see that at all. I see it as walking with people, and you’re interpreting through a lens.”

“It would feel worse to walk away without a good picture.”

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