Former Sun-Times Photographer Captures Life After The Layoffs

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 3, 2013 7:40PM

While reporters at Sun-Times Media Group are being trained in the basics of iPhone photography (#nofilter) after last week's firing of the entire photography staff, one of the photographers without a job is putting some of the free time now on his hands to good use.

Rob Hart has started a Tumblr site called "Laid Off from the Sun-Times" where he's charting his day-to-day activities post-firing using an iPhone "but with the eye of a photojournalist trained in storytelling," he writes.

Hart told Chicagoist in a phone interview that the Sun-Times' decision to fire their photographers was made "to save money."

"The people who own the paper look at it as a business," he said. "They brought Nikon reps in a month ago to give us training in shooting and editing video, bought new cameras that allow us to shoot video, and then they do this?"

Hart also doubted the mandatory iPhone photography training for reporters would bridge the gap. "Look, an iPhone can be used to take amazing photographs. But not every owner of an iPhone has the ability to capture a moment and tell a story with pictures the way a photojournalist can." Hart said he spoke with a Sun-Times reporter who had to shoot photos for two feature stories and "didn't realize how hard it was" to shoot and edit photos into a story.

"I don't think (reporters shooting pictures with iPhones) will succeed," Hart added. "Everything is done on the cheap. I don't think anything they do has a chance of succeeding."

As for his Tumblr, Hart said he doesn't know how long it will remain active but, while it is, he plans to bring a couple other former Sun-Times photogs aboard to contribute. Would John H. White, the Pulitzer Prize winner who has been the most visible former Sun-Times photographer in the media after the layoffs? Hart said that would be unlikely.

"It would be tough to get John H. White to Instagram," said Hart, who considers White a "mentor."