John Slavin is one of the artists featured in PL130 Gallery's photography show Off Topic, a photo show about the unassigned work of photojournalists who worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News since the 80s. This week we caught up with John to learn more about his work and experience.
How did you first get into photography? And how did you make your way into becoming a photojournalist?
I had a chance meeting with Ansel Adams, who was in Philly for a book signing, and he suggested I should go work for a newspaper as I would starve as a landscape photographer.
When speaking about your photography, do you describe yourself as an artist, photographer, or photojournalist?
In what years did you work for the Philadelphia Inquirer or Daily News?
My first assignment was in 1984. My last was in 2007.
Do you have a favorite story of an encounter with a subject either on an assignment or a personal project?
Too many to mention. One standout is the several times I photographed Hillary Clinton.
What are the biggest differences in your approach and considerations between personal editorial projects and assignments?
There are no time restraints on personal work.
Is there a specific theme that captivates you, one that you keep returning to?
I'm currently photographing the car culture and have been for several years. I also build, restore, and race vintage cars.
What piece of advice would you give to a young photographer who is interested in photojournalism?
Don't do it unless you have a trust fund.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about yourself or work?
I consider myself a street photographer, which means a lot of driving, stopping, walking, some talking, but mostly looking. It has a high failure rate. After doing this for 40 years, I suggest traveling light and wear comfortable shoes.