Whether on assignment or not, Jabin Botsford always had a camera in his hands when he was a student, practicing what he believed he was meant to do. Repeatedly pressing the shutter in order to perfect his craft ultimately got Botsford in place to cover Donald Trump’s campaign that lead to the presidency.
“Having clear goals and knowing what I wanted to do helped a lot,” Botsford said. “This is an incredibly challenging field right now. An insane amount of hard work, pretty decent amount of luck, along with pushing myself to do the best, helped.”
“I think we all enjoyed the chaos that came with covering the Trump campaign and the inevitable uncertainty of everyday life,” Botsford said.
Botsford was born in Florida but grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. His internships included The New York Times in both Washington D.C. and New York, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. As a student at Western Kentucky University, Botsford also joined the National Press Photographers Association.
“I decided to join because I think what the NPPA does as a whole for our industry is incredibly important,” Botsford said. “It’s one of our main advocates.”
Botsford had concerns going into the photojournalism field, but has done well. He believes it is impossible to know what the industry will look like in the future because it is changing so fast. He chose a very traditional route, but he sees himself at The Washington Post as long as they’ll keep him.
“I am madly in love with everyone I work with and the newspaper,” Botsford said. “They have been a huge part in getting me to where I am today. Finding a newspaper that allowed me to cover national news was important.”
His days are unpredictable with assignments, but it hardly feels like work. Botsford said that he has a supportive photo editor and that MaryAnne Golon, the Director of Photography at The Washington Post, has played a huge role in his career.
“She (Golon) is the one who has given me all the shots that I have had in life in photojournalism. She edits every single one of my contest entries,” Botsford said.
Botsford is surprised his work has been so awarded. As importantly, he is humbled and honored to be able to connect with people and tell a story visually. He thinks it is a skill that takes an immense amount of practice.
“I still don’t think I’m very good at it, but I guess I’m doing ok,” Botsford said. “To be recognized in a group that I consider the best of the best is just surprising and mind-blowing.”
Botsford is scheduled to speak on Friday, March 3 at the Northern Short Course in Fairfax, Virginia as part of a series of educational and networking events. He’ll give tips on how to thrive in this industry. He will touch on how to have a clear vision of where you want to go and what you want to do. He said it’s important to fail as much as you possibly can until something starts clicking.
“Figuring out what kind of photographer you want to be is the most important first step,” Botsford said. “Having people’s work specifically that you look up to is extremely important so that you know what direction you want to go.”