Eyes on the American Inaguration: LomoAmigo C.S. Muncy

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Here we meet C.S. Muncy, a photojournalist with many years of experience shooting protests,the political stage, and more for publications such as the New York Times and The Village Voice. He was kind enough to share these dramatic panoramas shot at the American Inauguration and the protests that followed with Lomography NYC, providing us a personal account into a historic event which has become notable for the inaccuracy in reporting about it after the fact. These photographs do show chaos, but also tell a clear story of strength and resistance, proving that the true fabric of the American people is one of love and inclusion.

How long have you been a photographer? How did you originally get into photography?

I've been shooting more or less continuously since my freshman year of college. And honestly (and perhaps a little shamefully) I got into it to meet girls. I started off with my mom's old Minolta X-700, and I discovered that being a photographer made it easier to meet new and interesting people. I was a terrible shooter in the beginning, but it did help me meet people. Anyways, one day a friend asked if I wanted to come photograph a protest - it was Valentine's Day, and a couple we knew were going to try to get married at the Marriage Bureau in Las Vegas. This must have been 1999 or 2000, before marriage equality was a thing. They were ignored for a while, then had a door slammed in their faces before being escorted out of the building. I picked up a shot of the door being slammed in one of their faces, and a newspaper asked to buy it. From there it all kind of snowballed. I started freelancing more and more, and eventually I reached a point where I was shooting full time.

What drew you to photojournalism? Were you always compelled to shoot protests/ such intense events and atmospheres?

I was never that interested in commercial photography. I've done a fair amount of portrait work, but I always wanted to be the guy telling the interesting stories. The protest stuff just kind of happened, I never really pursued it as much as you might think. After shooting a few, I started getting a reputation as a "protest guy."

How has being a journalist influenced your photographic interests and style over the years? Especially the work that isn't necessarily of these types of scenes and situations, how is this affected?

It sounds super cliched, but I really try for the "fly on the wall" shots. If I can help it, I don't want the viewer to think of me at all; I want them to concentrate on the subject of the photos.

What is the message you're trying to portray in your photos? Is there one?

When it comes to news work, I'm pretty "message free." Like I said, I don't want the viewer to think of me or my work at all, I want their attention solely on what's happening in the frame.

Do you have a preference to shoot film over digital? How do you find the two different mediums influence your work?

I love working with film, and do so whenever possible, but for day to day work I have to carry my digital bodies. Unless I'm on a long term assignment, I need to be able to file my shots almost immediately. For that the D750's built-in WiFi is great, but I have a number of devices that allow me to transmit from the field.

If it was possible, I'd work a lot more in film though. There's something so satisfying about working with analog gear that digital doesn't quite match.

What is your go-to camera?

I have a number of cameras I've used over the years. My normal, every day kit consists of either my Nikon D800 or D750. For heavier work, or work in high-impact environments I shoot on a D4. I always try to carry at least one film camera for my own personal work. Generally speaking it's my Hasselblad XPan. I love being able to tell a wider story with the panoramic format. As soon as I can afford it, I plan on investing in a second body so I can shoot seamlessly without having to worry about changing lenses.

For quieter moments, or times when I want to shoot portraits, I'll sometimes carry medium format cameras. I've got a Mamiya 645 Pro that I love, but I'm a sucker for the square format of my Rolleiflex or Hasselblad 500C.

Do you have any advice for photographers looking to work in photo-journalism or make documentary work in general?

It's a hustle. You have to work every day. You have to prove yourself with every job. It's exhausting and dangerous and the paycheck barely deserves the name. If you mess up, you'll rarely get a second chance. And, particularly in the beginning, nobody's just going to give you work; you have to go out and get the shot yourself. But that said, it can be some of the most rewarding work you'll ever do.

What role does photography play in your opinion in the way events are remembered and reported? When looking specifically at these pictures, what significance is there that these moments have been preserved and could also be shared around the world?

I'd like to think that when people look at images like this, they realize that Americans are not homogeneous in their points of view. The protests, the opposing views, the police response - it's all a macro view of a much larger debate going on in the U.S.


C.S. Muncy is a New York City-based freelance photojournalist with a client list that includes The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, The New York Daily News and The Village Voice. His work has also appeared in Time Magazine, The Smithsonian Magazine and Wired Japan. In 2012, he was selected for the 25th Eddie Adams Workshop, received the NPPA Short Course Travel Grant and won first prize in the National Geographic/Nikon “Full Story” photo contest. A graduate of the Defense Information School, he enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2002 and is currently a combat correspondent with the 106th Rescue Wing.

written by Katherine Phipps on 2017-02-25 #gear #news #people

13 Comments

  1. sirio174
    sirio174 ·

    sad times in USA... the photos speak by itself

  2. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Great set of photos!

  3. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    yeah \m/ documenting the protest with panoramic camera https://www.lomography.cn/photos/18368776 very happy with nowaday US citizen who not Islamophobic anymore

  4. lomovibe
    lomovibe ·

    This is what makes America great - even the pointless rantings of emotional simpletons are tolerated. Although my advice to them would be: Get over it.

    P.S., illegal aliens are not immigrants.

  5. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    @lomovibe Worthless trolls in Lomography, this has to be a first.

  6. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    I'm a bit surprised -- and happy -- to see C.S. Muncy, a fellow DINFOS grad (or whatever we're called) in Lomography.
    The pictures are awesome; I love how you handled the panoramics.

  7. lomovibe
    lomovibe ·

    @mcgloin Congratulations on your accomplishment.

  8. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    @lomovibe I imagine you're actually trying.

  9. lomovibe
    lomovibe ·

    @mcgloin I suggest you take a good look at yourself. You are the one who is personally attacking another member of this website, not me. I made a comment on the contents of an article. The subject of the photographs is deliberately political and provocative, and some would find them offensive - therefore nobody should be surprised when someone with differing beliefs shares their opinion. Not everyone will agree with you and you need to accept that. Have a nice day.

  10. katphip
    katphip ·

    @lomovibe @mcgloin I want to jump in here as I did consider the fact that this is throughly charged and emotional topic for Americans and probably also all citizens of the world. This is why I chose to focus on the photography and the journalistic elements of CS's work in the interview, rather than the politics. I have the belief that photographs are powerful and important artifacts of events, and in fact these images gave me quite a bit of hope in what I am experiencing as a terse and somewhat hopeless time. They were very different in energy to anything I saw anywhere else, on the news, online, etc, and this is partially what motivated me to share them with the community here, in addition to wanting to share a story about photojournalism. I think it's important to acknowledge and respect all opinions as we must remember that no one sees photographs the same way, as we look through a lens of cultural and personal subjectivity.

  11. lomovibe
    lomovibe ·

    @katphip This is a rather disingenuous comment. You can't totally divorce the content of the photographs from the photographs themselves. Surely you should have known that some would disagree with the attitudes expressed in them. You obviously believed that you would find a uniformly friendly audience on this website. That said, you have the right to publish them, just as those who disagree with the content have the right to state our opinions as well. When you kick the hornets' nest, don't be surprised if you get stung. We all have freedom of speech, but you don't have freedom from criticism.

  12. katphip
    katphip ·

    @lomovibe As I know that the community here is global, I wasn't sure what kinds of reactions there would be for these images. I 100% agree that you can't divorce the content of photographs from the photographs themselves -- but the point I am making is that we can distance ourselves from the idea that everyone will interpret those contents the same way that we do, and the idea that any image has a fixed or absolute meaning. I think every photographer has an inherent bias too, and this should be considered when talking about meaning of images. All of this to say, I acknowledge I could definitely have considered how to take a more neutral stance on the topic as the writer and curator. I will keep this in mind for the future so thank you for bringing this to light for me.

  13. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    @katphip I didn't mean to turn this into a shitshow. I should have just ignored the troll's (with the empty Lomography account) comments and continued on the 99.999% of Lomography that is 100% awesome. I blew it, I'm sorry.

    I'm a huge fan of C.S. Muncy and the work presented here, the panoramics give a whole new view into what was happening. I don't think I ever actually met CS, but we may know people who know each other's people.

    I was just surprised to see right-wing hatred expressed here and encouraged, especially given the problems associated with these ideas (and the reason for the protests pictured in CS's pictures) recently and throughout history. All right, ok, so the anonymous "Lomovibe" isn't exactly sharing Nazi/Trump propaganda other than wording from campaign slogans. OK, he's not threatening anyone; he's using an anonymous user account to express opinions he was told to have. His only purpose with the account is to attempt to harass people, and judging by his "likes," looking at naked girls and beaches. He's following what may be a script and is laborious in his lack of creativity.

    I've been a giant fan of Lomography for a long time -- I always have an LCA+ with me, and I have a battered copy of "Don't Think, Just Shoot" on a table. I have a Spinner camera and a pile of Lomography 400 print film next to me, sitting on the wooden LCA box, which holds odds and ends. I was stoked to go to the Lomography store in Manhattan last time I was in NYC.

    It's just that a company based in Austria, with a worldwide following, shouldn't encourage the the type of fascism and and nationalism that have continued to injure and displace peoples all over the world. Mr. Tits and Sand is free to comment however he feels right, within the limits of Lomography terms of service, and I wouldn't want to see commentary expunged and censored willy-nilly; however, accounts like his should raise a red flag, but they're so rare (at least from what I've seen) in Lomography it's not worth looking for them.

    I have a long block list in Flickr full of accounts like his; many came from when I lived in Brooklyn and dared to ride a bike in NYC, which brings the ire of NYPD.

    I love that Lomography is generally free from trolls, free from political statements. I love the creativity, the awesome photography -- even the really bad photography. I love the travel stories (including your articles) I love the idea behind the 10 Principles; as a for-profit brand, they've done a tremendous amount to get people to lighten up, have some fun and explore the world around them. One could say Lomography brought the aloha to photography. I have one or two LCA/travel things I want to pitch to Lomography when I get a chance, because the world of Lomography is so much fun and free from the harassment found elsewhere online.

    I'll keep my negative comments to myself in the future.

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