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What's in the Bag: John Conrad Williams

by Chris Gampat on 03/09/2010

Long time readers of my work will know that I talk often about my mentor. Today, I’m proud to present to you a bio on just that man: John Conrad Williams. As a photographer that has shot for New York Newsday for quite some time now and has been around the world on assignments in addition to covering lots of hard to shoot stories, John is a man of lots of knowledge and is always willing to share it. I got meet up with him recently at my favorite restaurant to talk and catch up.

Gear

John uses the Nikon D3s and the D3 these days. He also carries around the 24-70mm F2.8 ED, 70-200mm F2.8 ED VR II, SB-900 and the 14mm F2.8. He’s used these to shoot sports, street stories, etc. They’ve worked very well for him over the time that he has been working on an Alzheimer’s story (around two years.)

John told me a horror story that I actually found hard to believe. He accidentally left his D3s on top of his car for a couple of days in the ski rack. During that time period, it wobbled around while his wife and him both drove his car. Additionally, it rained for quite a bit. The camera soaked up quite a bit of the rain. It wasn’t focusing, the prism seemed a bit scratched and it wouldn’t fire. The 24-70mm F2.8 lens attached was fine though. He made an appointment to take it to Nikon the next day for service. However, he didn’t need to, the camera recovered. When he took it to Nikon, they told him that nothing was wrong with the camera.

It seemed a bit hard to believe, but it could be possible. Afterall, an entry level Sony did survive being frozen.

Backstory

John has been shooting for many, many years now and he’s seen a lot of changes in the industry. He loves digital and wouldn’t want to go back to film due to the versatility and image quality that digital offers.

John has been all around the world. I’ve seen some of his work while shooting in Sudan and other places. He recently came back from shooting in Haiti to cover the relief efforts for New York Newsday. The images he brought back are compelling and John uses the same techniques in photojournalism that I’ve spoken about before. Further though, he always makes sure that he gets in close, as those images provide us with the most intimate details.

He tells me that a good photojournalist should be able to shoot anything. The reason for this is because the skills can be easily applied and adapted to different situations, such as weddings.

John’s job has also changed much over the years. Instead of being a photojournalist these days, he a multimedia journalist. One day he may be writing, another day shooting and another day shooting videos. It all depends on how things are what is needed of him. It keeps him flexible but he also feels like he loses his skills if he’s not out there everyday shooting. As a photographer for years, I have to agree.

See last week’s What’s in the Bag for more.

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