Bob Sacha (https://www.bobsacha.com/) is a director, cinematographer, editor, teacher, photographer and a collaborator on visual journalism projects. In his past lives, Bob was a staff photographer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, a contributing photographer at both Life and National Geographic Magazine and a freelance photo journalist and travel photographer for more magazines than remain on newsstands. A decade ago he made the switch to video and has worked on projects that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, a National Emmy for New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming, a Webby and the first gold medal ever given by the Society for News Design. He teamed up with Blue Chalk as the the director of photography for the New York Times series, Living City, about New York’s infrastructure. BlindSight, a documentary short about a group of blind photographers that he directed, shot & produced had its world premiere at DOCNYC, the country’s largest documentary festival. Bob is also a prolific and passionate teacher, working for many years with students of all ages including workshops in Maine, SantaFe, Italy, Norway and many other places worldwide. He’s fascinated with how visual storytelling changes across platforms.
LACP Interviews Bob Sacha
LACP asks Bob Sacha ten questions about his background, career in and beliefs about photography
LACP: What kind of photographer are you?
Bob Sacha: I describe myself as a visual journalist. My heart is in nonfiction storytelling, and I’m interested in exploring how we create stories for different platforms, from slideshows with music to social media including TikTok.
LACP: How long have you been shooting?
BS: Since I started taking pictures when I was a kid so it often seems seems like about 150 years ago.
LACP: Where did you get your training?
BS: I started with a summer photo workshop when I was a teenager, then progressed to years and years of trial and error training, something that continues to this day. I was blessed to work with great editors at National Geographic and Life. They taught me a lot. As for formal education, I have a dual degree in Photojournalism & Psychology from Syracuse University and a Master’s in Visual Communication from Ohio University.
LACP: When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?
BS: My dad was always taking pictures, so that might have been the first spark. But I think it was in that summer workshop when I first saw an image appear in a tray of developer. Later on, working as a teenager for a small community newspaper, I saw that being a photographer would take you places that people normally couldn’t go and meet people beyond my wildest dreams. Certainly working for Life and National Geographic Magazine made me realize I had lucked into an amazing visual life.
LACP: Did you ever come close to giving up?
BS: I was born an optimist, and years and years of freelancing helped me form a mindset that good things will always happen if you work hard. Looking back now, I realize that being born a white male was a huge advantage too.
LACP: Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?
BS: My partner and I made the decision not to have children since we were both constantly working and traveling.
LACP: What have you gained by being a photographer?
BS: Being a photographer and filmmaker exposes me to new worlds and amazing people whom I would not have otherwise seen or met. It’s amazing how people open their lives and hearts to you when you listen and offer to help them tell their story.
LACP: What classes do you teach at LACP?
BS: I teach a class called Social Media Storytelling where we look at using images and video for various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
LACP: What do you love most about teaching?
BS: I love sharing what I’ve learned and I love seeing people get that spark of recognition when they try something new and realize they can make something interesting. I also love learning from students, from having to put what I do into easily understandable lessons and then to watch the discoveries students make to show me things I often never imagined.
LACP: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?
BS: Jump in. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Look at and learn from as much good work as possible to constantly educate yourself. Dream big and keep at it. The rewards are incredible.