- Kirsten Ballard
There are three rules for getting a good photo, according to Rising Star photojournalist Dorothy Edwards.
“You want good light, good composition and a moment, some kind of thing happening, and that’s where the storytelling really happens,” she says.
Dorothy is a photographer for the Naples Daily News, part of the USA TODAY network. She started in 2015 after graduating from Western Kentucky University. She’d been interested in photography in high school and took portraits of her friends.
“I didn’t know about the journalism side of things,” she said. “There was a little blog I had with artsy pictures of my friends on it. Clearly, I had no idea what I was doing. But I went to Western, studied photojournalism and had a wonderful time there. This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.”
Her goal for the future is to stay in journalism. “Journalism as a whole is changing, but I hope whatever changes are happening, there’s still a place for me,” she says. “I really believe in (journalism) and I really believe in newspapers. I want to stay a part of newspapers as long as I can. There’s not a specific place I want to end up, as long as I’m somewhere that knows the value of good storytelling.”
At the Daily News, her days are varied, from restaurant reviews to hanging out with body builders.
“It’s all over the map; every day is different,” Dorothy says. “The beauty in this job is that there is no normal day.”
Her favorite projects involve getting to know her sources, and spending time with them at home, work or school.
“I love being in people’s homes. I love doing stories about family and anything that goes beyond the everyday event,” Dorothy says.
In 2017, she led the visual coverage for the USA TODAY Network Florida coverage of Immokalee following Hurricane Irma. She spent time with families that had lost their homes, belongings or jobs, and visually documented their stories in beautiful and impactful images and videos that helped tell the story of this small, mostly-immigrant community to the rest of the world.
“It was some of the most important coverage I worked on this last year,” she says. “A lot of people were hurting… we got visibility on people who were really hurting and needed support and resources, and weren’t getting it.” Readers reached out, asking how they could help and where to send supplies. For Dorothy, the community response was powerful. “As horrible as Irma was here, it brought everyone together.”
Manny Garcia, Regional Executive Editor/ East of USA TODAY Network, who nominated Dorothy, wrote, “Dorothy did not parachute into this community and with these families – she has stayed in touch with them and continues to follow their journey as they work towards recovery.”
Dorothy stresses the importance of checking back in with her sources and asking what is new. It keeps the connections strong and builds a sense of community.
“That’s a beautiful thing about being a journalist in a smaller community; you run into the same faces when you go out on different assignments,” she says.