How I got into photography: Anne Cusack
Posted By: Bryan Chan
Posted On: 3:12 p.m. | November 29, 2012
We asked staff photographer Anne Cusack what sparked her interest in photography. This is the first in an occasional series of posts from our staff on how they got into the “business.” How about you? What got you interested in photography (add a comment below)?
By Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times
My first camera I remember so well was a black box camera that my father gave me. I can vividly picture my first family portrait with that camera. It was taken at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. One frame was clear. The second was an accidental double exposure. And hence I began photographing my family and my long love affair with photography began. As I look back at those photos, they were pretty bad.
My father worked for Bell & Howell and shot with his company’s 16mm movie camera. He gave all his children cameras. He was very sensitive to light and composition and would sometimes even direct the family to tell a story. My husband, photographer Richard Derk, once commented when seeing my father’s films, “That’s where you got your eye.”
The next turning point came when I went off to college at the University of Illinois. I did not have a career in mind but my sister Margaret had told me stories of her adventures shooting photos for the campus paper, the Daily Illini. It sounded like fun, so I joined the staff following in her footsteps. My father gave me my first Canon SLR camera, as Bell & Howell imported Canon at that time. I was hooked. It was the late 1960s and there were violent demonstrations on campus. Working on the Daily Illini was an incredible experience. Everyone was living, eating and breathing photojournalism. I met my husband there. He was a senior and the older students taught the younger students. A great time for us was just going somewhere for the day and shooting photos. We once wondered if we would ever be able to just enjoy a sunset without photographing it.
One day I visited photojournalism professor Dick Hildwein to talk about the possibility of becoming a photojournalist. There was no photojournalism major at U of I and he wisely told me: “As a photojournalist you need to know a little bit about a lot of different things. So get a good liberal arts education.”