I was born in New York City, but I’ve spent almost my whole life in the Hartford area. As a high school student, I had a passion for art. Once I graduated, I attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York to study and make art. I started taking photography classes with professors I admired, and I loved it so much I switched majors from painting and drawing to photography. I graduated with a BFA in photography in 1974. Art was my passion, but I always had an interest in the news. From young adulthood on, I read The New York Times and watched Walter Cronkite on the television.
After graduation I got an internship at the Courant as a lab technician developing and printing pictures made by the staff photographers. I saw thousands of pictures from the wire services like Associated Press and United Press International. Pictures from all over the country and the world would come via phone wire.
At that time, the Watergate scandal was brewing. Watching the story slowly develop was incredibly fascinating for me. Journalists were exposing the abuses of powerful government officials. I was witness to history being made. I stayed on at the Courant as long as they would have me. When I left the Courant I was happy for the experience but unhappy with the paper’s point of view and presentation. The paper was known as the Old Gray Lady for its columns and columns of type and small photographs.
I returned to New York City and found another photography lab job making custom black and white prints, working in a darkroom all day. I soon realized how good I had it at the Courant. Once a position opened up, I called the photography manager during my lunch hour from a pay phone, busses and taxis honking in the background, on the corners of 23rd and 6th Avenue pleading for the job.
I was hired in 1976 as a lab technician and was soon promoted to staff photographer.
Now I could combine my passions; being a witness to events that affect people and my photography. I was also the first photographer hired with a college degree.
In my 34 years at the Hartford Courant I have covered major news events, national stories and political campaigns. I have covered World Series, Final Fours, and Super Bowls. I have traveled to China to watch a Hartford surgeon teach the Chinese how to perform coronary bypass surgery. I’ve been sent to Central America and Europe. I have worked on assignment in Saudi Arabia. There are stories I have spent a year or more working on. I think I’ve driven every road in the state.
My goal is trying to understand and attempt to describe the world with my photographs.
I have spent a lot of time getting to know my subjects and hear their stories. I’ve seen pure joy and utter pain. I’ve seen failure and hope. I have met incredible people who inspire.
I work with colleagues who are as passionate as I am.
Some days I can’t believe they pay me to do this.
Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.