Instructor achieves successes through photography

IUS Horizon

Bryan Mass, adjunct professor of journalism, displays his work at the Web site Life in Corydon,

Bryan Moss, adjunct professor of journalism, lives in a world of photography. From teaching photojournalism reporting at IU Southeast to having worked at various newspapers, Moss has dedicated his life to taking pictures.

Moss first became interesting in photography taking photos during his high school years.

“When I was about 13, I took pictures of the high school sectional and sold one for $3 to the local newspaper,” Moss said. “I had always played around with it, but I never did anything that serious.”

Moss said he enjoys taking photos of people the most because he is drawn by the ordinary things in life that tell us who we are.

“If you go back into old photographs, the ones you treasure the most are the ones that are not just the faces but give you some sense of where they are and what they were doing,” Moss said. “One of my favorite pictures of my dad is when he was nine and shooting marbles. It’s really neat stuff.”

When taking pictures, Moss said he believes good photographs communicate messages and create intimacy.

“Photographs are not verbal forms of communication,” Moss said. “The best photographs convey information. They do it in a two-dimensional rectangle that has great light, good form and composition and has emotion among the people.”

Moss began teaching photojournalism at IU Southeast in 2008 after being offered the position by James St. Clair, professor of journalism.

Although it has only been two years, Moss said he has enjoyed teaching the class.

“I think it’s energizing to look at pictures and talk about pictures with other people and to critique them,” Moss said.

Erica Sellers, journalism junior, is taking the photojournalism class and has Moss as a professor.

Sellers said Moss allows students to have control on the content of their photographs for assignments.

“Brian Moss totally understands that most of us really didn’t have a clue about photography before signing up for the class,” Sellers said. “He works with us and this makes the class environment fun and educational.”

When students turn in assignments and present them in class, Moss critiques them in order to help them develop their photography skills.

“It might sound a little scary, but, really, the critiques help us improve and learn how to take better pictures and how to determine bad pictures from the awesome ones,” Sellers said.

Through the years, Moss has worked at many newspapers.

However, his preferred ones have been The Courier-Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle.

“My favorites included The Courier-Journal in the ’70s, which was as good as photojournalism ever got, and I’m blessed to have been a part of that,” Moss said. “I really enjoyed working for the San Francisco Chronicle, whose taste in photographs did not really match mine, but they let me do what I wanted to do.”

After being a photographer for all these different newspapers, Moss said he has gained the knowledge of what it is like to move around a lot.

“When I went to St. Louis, I was working in Evansville, and they called me and wanted me to be a photo coach, and I thought that’s interesting,” Moss said. “I wouldn’t mind having another adventure. The bottom line is all of those things contribute to where you are now and what you’re doing now, and I’m happy with that.”

Moss has also received many awards throughout his career.

The best one he achieved though was the Pulitzer Prize, which he was awarded with twice.

“One from The Courier-Journal, which I had more direct involvement with, and one at the Mercury News, which was awarded to the whole staff,” Moss said.

Although Moss has gained numerous prizes for his photography, he said he doesn’t care much about the awards he received.

“Part of it is that there is a tendency when awarding prizes to award prizes for stunning photograph,” Moss said. “I’m really more of a historian than I am a stunning photographer. It’s the content in my photographs that makes them good in my opinion.”

Moss has also created a Web site called Life in Corydon. Moss put up the Web site in 2006, and it involves numerous community activities, such as sports and parades.

“It’s about ordinary people doing ordinary things,” Moss said. “It’s heavily oriented toward high school sports because there are more high school sports things going on in a small town than anything else as far as community events are concerned.”

Although Moss has worked for different newspapers and gained several awards, he said he still believes the importance of photography is ultimately communication and content.

“I think no matter how the industry changes, no matter how many newspapers die, no matter how many jobs disappear, no matter what the outside forces are that the most important thing about photography is recording what’s happening around us in an effective way that communicates that to other people,” Moss said.


Staff Writer