Photographer and film director Vincent Laforet has worked for The New York Times, Vanity Fair, National Geographic and more, and in 2002 he won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for his coverage of post-9/11 events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Vincent lives in New York and Los Angeles, where he directs commercials for brands like Nike as well as short films. Born in 1975, he got his B.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1997.
You can't be in the news business for as long as I have been without hearing about the “great ones,” the writers and photographers who shape the world we live in. Vincent Laforet is one of those guys — a news photographer par excellence whose photos for The New York Times have captivated the residents of the Big Apple. But he is so much more.
His work has also appeared in Vanity Fair and National Geographic, among many other places. He has won a Pulitzer Prize. He turned tilt-shift photography into an art form. I could go on, but then it would take too long. The short story: I ran into him sitting on a bench in South Park in San Francisco.
He had just put the first of his AIR Gotham photos on the Internet and the visual story had gone viral. For the first time someone had gone up over 7,500 feet in a helicopter, used high-end Canon cameras and snapped photos of Manhattan. The result? Something truly spectacular. These photos were initially taken for a magazine and had literally no impact. However, the internet is a whole different story. Vincent's Storehouse story was picked up by many publications and blogs, and that initial set of photos has turned into Project AIR. Vincent has photographed Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and he wants to visit many more cities around the world and collect the resulting art in a photo exhibit and book.
Vincent likes to talk, and he has a lot of stories to tell. I like to listen and ask a lot of questions. We just started talking, and we didn't stop for a long time. Sometime during the conversation, I turned on the voice recorder on my iPhone.
With a love for photography, the news business and the unknown, Vincent and I are kindred spirits. We both share a skepticism about current media entities in the face of the inevitability of the internet. Since that first conversation, Vincent has become my friend and photo professor. We have gone on many photo walks and even suit shopping, always talking, talking, and talking.
Here is a tiny slice from our first conversation, about changing media, the reality in the world of Instagram, the role of a news photographer in today's age and what he's thinking about next. I hope you find it worth your time to read this all the way through.