I had the pleasure of interviewing photojournalist, John Smierciak last week for this month’s featured photographer article. I found talking to him fascinating. John has had many incredible experiences and opportunities in the photography business during his thirty-eight years in the industry. Among his lists of accomplishments is that he was part of a team of reporters and photographers who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for a story about air travel in America.
John spent eighteen of his thirty-eight years working as a street photographer for The Chicago Tribune handling general assignments. He also went on to cover sports whether it was MLB, NBA or college, if it involved Chicago he was on the sidelines. His work took him on assignments and to places most people only dream about. “If I hadn’t had the job I did, I would never have gotten to have these experiences.” From chasing tornados in the western plains, to landing the only shot of Drew Peterson getting arrested,to volunteering with Hearts and Motion in Guatemala, John has seen it all.
One of his assignments landed him right in the middle of ground zero just two days after the devastation of 9/11. While on a assignment to cover a local firehouse in Chicago one of the guys asked if John would like to join them on their drive to NY. John accepted the offer and called his boss from the road to explain that he would be back in a couple days.
It took getting laid off from The Chicago Tribune in 2009 for Jon to be able to have the time to start his own business, Smierciak Images Inc. It's also when he started using ExposureManager. “When I started my business a friend of mine recommend EM to me.” “The site is easy to access and I can call anytime with questions."
John may be a true adventurer but to this day he swears that his favorite thing to photograph is his daughter. “ I have hundreds and thousands of photos of my daughters on my EM site.” John photographs his daughter and her friend’s prom pictures,“I set up backdrops and lights and I take their pictures for free.”
When I asked him how he has stayed so successful he had some interesting advice, “I talk to anybody and everybody. I always hand out my card to small businesses or look in the local newspaper. I’m always emailing people because once you give up your done. Once your name isn’t out there anymore you are done.” It’s fighting words like that, that makes Jon one of the most reputable photographers in the Chicago area for the last forty years. If you would like to check out some of his work, head to his site, http://www.johnsmierciak.com/ or http://simages.exposuremanager.com