Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalists share experiences at panel

Aimée Santillán

Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalists Lucian Perkins, Judy Walgren, as well as famed photojournalists Eli Reed, Dennis Darling and Meredith Kohut talked about their experiences in photojournalism at a panel discussion in the Belo Center for New Media on Thursday.

At the “Through the Lens” panel, hosted by the School of Journalism, Perkins spoke about the beginning of his career, when he was a photojournalist for The Daily Texan. He said one of the greatest internships he had was at The Washington Post. Besides doing what was asked of him at the internship, he was constantly looking for stories to pitch. He said his experience at the internship led to a job at the Post for 27 years.

“It’s all about ideas,” Perkins said. “And educating yourself to go where you want to go.”

According to Walgren, one of her first projects was looking for hidden wars. She said these wars were hidden mostly because it was difficult to cover those wars.

She showed photographs she took in Africa and Colorado and said they document how people would live around these places despite the conflicts that surrounded them.

“I found out that photojournalism is sheer will,” Walgren said. “I didn’t have a good eye at photography. I just wanted to change the world.”

Kohut said she took pictures of children going across the Guatemalan border. She said she found out it was not an immigration crisis, but that the children were refugees. Kohut said it was challenging for her to tell that story.

“You have figure out how to make things work,” Kohut said. “It’s not about being able to take a picture but about being able to solve problems.”

Perkins talked about an assignment in Macedonia that involved refugees from the region. He said he realized that government corruption could cause conflict almost anywhere. 

Freelance photojournalist Felicia Graham said part of the job of a photojournalist is to deliver a product no matter the location.

“I do think it is difficult to shoot at different locations, while being a photojournalist,” Graham said. “But you cannot publish an excuse. We have a job in which we can’t just not show up. When it comes to photojournalism, you have to be there.”