As you will see in the video above, Kathy Ryan, New York Times Magazine, and I are long time friends. We met teaching together at the Eddie Adams Workshop way back at the beginning.  Hmmm, maybe 25 years ago. I have no real sense of time. Anyway Kathy is a gem. Known forever as a picture editor, now turned photographer, now with a published book, and still Director of Photography at the NYTimes Magazine. Kathy became a photographer because of Instagram. Literally.

Instagram was Kathy’s  only platform. Changed her life by allowing her to shoot daily in her own office environment and that’s WHY I am showing her here on Burn now. Not because she is a friend, but because she has done what I tell all those I mentor to do..Shoot in your own backyard. This is quite literally the best example I have seen. I mean the woman is shooting in office cubicles…The least likely place most people would shoot. Many wannabe photographers are in their cubicles dreaming of McCurry’s India and won’t shoot til they get there…Anyway check out Kathy’s new Aperture book Office Romance produced by Chris Boot, the producer of so many great books over the years both at Phaidon and now at Aperture.

Take a page from Kathy’s book. Look at what is right around you. Everything is interesting if you have the right eye.

Happy New Year to all…



Buy Kathy’s book directly at Aperture:




11 thoughts on “Kathy Ryan-OFFICE ROMANCE”


    yes,it worked out very well…and we too will soon do a book of BurnDiary Instagram best images….so try to get a week of that if you have the time…sooner the better because we will get this rolling in early spring…

    nice to see you here Tom, and a very Happy New Year to you….oh yes, if you wanna try Rio 2015, i will be there from jan 20 to feb 20

    cheers, david

  2. I haven’t seen the video yet, but I’ve meaning to ask for the last couple of days if not being a photographer is an advantage or a disadvantage as a photo editor? I’ve got a close friend who’s a professional basketball coach and he’s commented many times it’s practically impossible to successfully coach without having gone through the experience of actually playing. How can you push an athlete physically to the limit or tell a photographer the images she or he has brought back aren’t good enough. An ex photographer or an ex athlete in theory will know when one has hit the limits or just isn’t giving it all. Or perhaps it just isn’t necessary as a photo editor?

  3. Paul,

    Although it is not my official title at work, photo editing is a prime part of my job. I was doing that long before I ever picked up a camera. From that stand point, my ability to diagnose what makes a good/bad photo has exponentially grown since I started shooting. I can better tell what was done correctly in composition and in the technical aspects. So yes, it is possible to do one without the other, but the insight and confidence gained by doing both brings the editing to another level. Just my 2¢.

  4. Haven’t been on here for a while but I do pop in from time to time to see what David is showcasing.

    He is absolutely right. I know and have known many “photographers” that like to look at photography, talk about photography, opine on photography and call themselves photographers, but they can’t seem to actually get out and shoot. I am not sure if it is fear of failing, laziness or just that they really don’t want to BE a photographer as much as they like the idea of being a photographer.

    So to use the tired NIKE slogan, JUST FUCKING DO IT! (Might not be remembering that accurately)

    Also, in reply to Paul about should a photo editor have been a photographer… I have known photographers who do not know what a good picture is so I am not sure being a shooter is a qualification. I would say that the greatest advantage of a good editor is that he/she did not take the photos. One of the biggest hurtles a photographer has in editing his own work is divorcing himself from it as he/she edits it.

  5. I agree with Pete in his first paragraph. Many many years ago I dreamt about being a photographer, but the fear, laziness, and a fixed and stable job won the match. Now I am an amateur photographer who loves to look and talk about photography, and sometimes go out and shoot.

    About editing, I also have had the same doubt, does the editor need to have been photographer before this job?


  6. And about the Kathy´s book, I think is great. I´m following her in Instagram from a while, before the book, and I admired how she could take those beautiful pictures in a so small enviroment as an office. Light, composition, portraits, etc. And months after, it´s a book.
    I am trying to do a work about my neighborhood (it has a rich part and a poor part divided by a long commercial street), and it is not easy…

    Congrats Kathy!

  7. “does the editor need to have been photographer before this job”

    In my opinion no. It could be useful so that an editor understands sometimes things just don’t happen as planned or desired, but to actually edit what is in front of them, I do not believe so.

  8. PAUL

    it is a funny thing…some people can see pictures and some cannot and i find no relationship between being a photographer and being able to CHOOSE good pictures….i am sure that i could find good picture choosers from any walk of life…the Pizza Hut delivery guy could be a great picture chooser….no “training” necessary….that is outside of knowing what works for a particular magazine..and that is yet another skill having nothing to do with naturally seeing pictures…that is seeing pictures specifically for NatGeo for example, not just for seeing..and that is an “editor” and not necessarily a natural chooser …i have heard many a picture editor say “THAT is a great picture!! but not for US”…

    also, as Pete says many/most photographers are not good picture editors…especially of their own work….many cannot or will not separate the tough climb up the mountain for 6 hours with the fact that the picture they got at the top is just flat out no good…

    so in short, it is two different skill sets…some can do both, most cannot…..

    i do suggest to most photographers to have ONE trusted person with whom you have confidence to look at your work…this is NOT usually a pro who works for only one publication, for they are trained to see for only one managing editor….also, do not ask everyone!! huge mistake….too many opinions and you will go crazy…

    mostly at least TRY being your own best editor….know what you want and stick by it..and be willing to throw it all out…cut it hard…that is the single biggest weakness i see in 99% of portfolios…too many pictures OR 15 great ones and suddenly one that just makes the first 15 just die…one out of place picture kills more than just itself…think about that one….

    cheers, david

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