Under the Influence: Ross Taylor on Rich Beckman
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