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    Under the Influence: Ross Taylor on Rich Beckman

    by Nicole Fruge posted November 16, 2011
    Carlos Rose, 8, lives in McDowell County, W.VA., and is the youngest of 10 children. McDowell County is one of the poorest counties in America. This image was made shortly after I  graduated the University of North Carolina and was living in West Virginia. Photojournalism professor Rich Beckman was a big supporter of the Growing Up in Gary project and allowed me to continue to use the darkroom even after graduation. Yes, I said darkroom. I'm that old. —Ross Taylor

    Carlos Rose, 8, lives in McDowell County, W.VA., and is the youngest of 10 children. McDowell County is one of the poorest counties in America. This image was made shortly after I graduated the University of North Carolina and was living in West Virginia. Photojournalism professor Rich Beckman was a big supporter of the Growing Up in Gary project and allowed me to continue to use the darkroom even after graduation. Yes, I said darkroom. I'm that old. —Ross Taylor

    I wanted to impress him. I wanted his approval, and so when he said “keep shooting,” I did. I really had no idea how to be a better photographer, but he was patient with me. He was calm when I was nervous; he was encouraging when I was frustrated. In the end, he was the one who introduced it all to me— the broader world of photojournalism. It’s because of Rich Beckman, in large part, I am where I am today.

    We came from a very small program in those days, much smaller than the University of North Carolina photojournalism program is today. We graduated just a handful of people in my class. We were tight and we all knew each other very well.

    Early in my career, a director of photography at a newspaper made a statement that I’ve always remembered. “Oh, you’re from U.N.C.,” he said. “You don’t have that many people coming out of there, but the ones who do, seem to really care about the people they photograph.”

    That stuck out to me, and I won’t forget it. Rich from the beginning pushed us and instilled in us a sense of respect.  —Ross Taylor

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