Walking away from her job as a photojournalist at the Los Angeles Times wasn’t easy. It was a very hard choice, but Barbara Davidson is glad she’s made it.
“Staff positions are few and far between and to make a decision to leave one is difficult,” Davidson said. “I am happy for many reasons.”
Davidson was speaking the day after her last day with the Times and the day before she flies off to Europe for the start of her freelance career. She is building the next chapter of her career on an impressive foundation.
In 2011, she won the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography and an Emmy for the series “Caught in the Crossfire” and she was part of the staff of the Dallas Morning News that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography for coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She won Cliff Edom's "New America Award” in the NPPA’s 2010 Best Of Photojournalism competition, photographing the lives of more than 8,000 Navajo Indians who live in northeastern Arizona. She was twice named Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.
The ten years she has worked at the Times have been good ones. She loved the job and the staff at the Times, but it is time for something different, she said.
The opportunity to go out on her own was facilitated by a good corporate job that is dictating her flight overseas. Davidson also is at a stage in her career where she wants to have more control over her photography.
“I want to own the copyrights of my work,” Davidson said. Up to this point, her photography has been controlled by the companies she worked for. Going forward, owning her own work is really important to her. She wants to be able to control the legacy of her stories.
Davidson knows that financially, her move might be challenging and she still wants to work on journalism stories like she has throughout her career. She plans to collaborate with corporate clients while also working on advocacy journalism and teaching at workshops.
“The work is not going to change. What is going to change is how I fund those projects,” Davidson said. “We have to be more creative about how we create our work.”
Saying she wants to “change the canvas I create on,” Davidson said that it took awhile to decide on this move, but that since she has, she is at peace with the decision.
For other photojournalists on the edge and hesitant of making a similar move, she says it will take courage. They should know that while it takes confidence to face the daily hustle of promoting your work, there are more options than ever for photographers to control their career.
“We have to be brave and have to be bold,” Davison said.