Sun-Times photographer details life after layoffs, with an iPhone
The name of Rob Hart's Tumblr site says it all. "Laid off from the Sun-Times" is the former Chicago Sun-Times staff photographer's platform for sharing his experience since the newspaper cut its entire 28-person photography staff. The blog's description also gets right to the point: "Rob Hart was replaced with a reporter with an iPhone, so he is documenting his new life with an iPhone, but with the eye of a photojournalist trained in storytelling."
Hart has been posting images that document his life since the layoffs were announced, from the beer he drank at a tavern nearby the newspaper offices an hour afterward to the makeshift home office he's now set up next to the dryer. Hart's hammering home the point that each image he's sharing has been snapped with an iPhone, the very tool that the Sun-Times is reportedly relying on reporters to use to in place of professional photographers.
"I thought it was a great way to both mock my situation and celebrate it," Hart said when we spoke to him by phone this morning. Either way, the blog has become his storytelling outlet: "that's what we were trained to do as photojournalists," he said.
Hart had worked for the Chicago Sun-Times media organization for 12 years before being laid off. He said he'd dreamed of being a photojournalist since the eighth grade. One of his photojournalism teachers was John H. White, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who was also amongst those cut by the Sun-Times last week.
"To see the thing you love disappear from your life — it's sad," he described. "But there's so many other outlets for us."
Hart sees a trend toward self-funded, independent photojournalism in the future. He's continuing to pursue freelance projects, and also teaches photojournalism at the Medill School of Journalism.
"I'm going to shoot the kind of photos I want to shoot," Hart said of his future plans. And whether he's using his Nikon D3 or his iPhone, Hart will continue to focus on storytelling.