- Kirsten Ballard
Hannah Hunsinger stumbled into her career. She was in high school when she first picked up a camera. She immediately liked it, and exhibited talent. She didn’t want to just be a studio photographer or shoot weddings, though.
“Totally uninformed, I said ‘I want to be a photojournalist,’ and I discovered it was the right thing for me along the way,” she says.
It worked out. Two years out of school, Hunsinger is the photographer at The Sanford Herald. She is the only photographer at the paper, which has been a bit of a culture shock.
“One of the biggest differences was, for student media, we had a whole team of photographers that were either my peers or I was I was teaching them stuff,” she says.
Now she’s surrounded by word people.
“They don’t understand photos the way photo-people do,” she laughs.
She advises “word people” to talk to photographers to create visually interesting stories. She works with her reporters to find personal stories within a larger issue.
“Ask the photographer what kind of photos or angle you could take on the same story,” she says. If the story is about a teacher dinner, instead of shooting the dinner, she would want to photograph the teacher engaging in the classroom. Not all stories are visually interesting, she admits, but looping a photographer in early gives you your best chance.
She works with a reporter on a weekly series called “How They Do It”, where she finds something in town that most readers don’t think about, and explains how it’s done.
“How does a pawn shop work, how a city does landscaping,” she says. “It’s a good video or photo opportunity.”
Additionally, Hunsinger does a weekly feature herself, where she does whatever she wants, experimenting with photo and video packages.
“That gives me a lot of freedom to explore my storytelling abilities,” she says. “I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to do some boring government story or school story.”
One of her favorite projects was on a bakery downtown, where even though it required her waking up early, the donuts made up for it.
She manages the paper’s Instagram. It was her first foray into the platform.
“They just handed it to me and let me go with it,” she says. In her time, she has built it up from no posts and 11 followers to 50 posts and 1,365 followers.
Advertising Director, Dave Shabaz, nominated Hunsinger for the award.
“Hannah truly cares about the quality of each and every one of her photos. She takes pride as if each one of her photos is her own personal business card,” he wrote in the nomination form. “I can tell you as Advertising Director, she has made my department’s ads and special sections look 100 percent better than they ever have before.”
News Media Alliance announced the winners of its first “Top 30 Under 30” Awards program at mediaXchange 2016 in April, which honors young leaders working in every aspect of the news media who are contributing to the future success of the industry. Over the next several weeks we will feature profiles on the winners, highlighting their work and ideas, and how they’re helping the industry grow and evolve.