In Conversation with James Dooley
I retired from daily newspaper journalism and photojournalism after 40 years. My most recent position was that of Director of Photography for Newsday and New York Newsday. A position I held for 21 years. Prior to that I was the Deputy Director of Photography at The Los Angeles Times. Before going to the Los Angeles Times I served at different times as Photo Editor, Assistant City Editor, State Editor and reporter at The Arizona Republic. I have been honored to lecture on photojournalism, ethics and The Alexia Foundation in China, Russia, Prague, Istanbul, South Africa, Greece and most recently at the Head On Photo Festival in Sydney. In addition I have curated photojournalism and Alexia exhibitions in those same countries. I received a Fulbright Specialist Grant to lecture and work for two weeks with MA students in Dalian, China.
What inspired you to work within the area of philanthropy?
I have always felt very strongly about working with and educating photographers, especially young photographers. Many years ago I organized a series of one-day workshops sponsored by The Freedom Forum, formerly the Gannett Foundation. Those one-day sessions were aimed at sharing with photographers in 23 countries the ethics of photojournalism and the importance of truth in their work. The Alexia Foundation is one of the few places where student and professional photographers have an opportunity to apply to seek funding to do the stories and the work that they feel must be done. Because newspapers and magazines and photo agencies are no longer as strong as they once were, photographers have fewer outlets and resources to help them do serious documentary work. The Alexia Foundation helps give those photographers the resources they need.
How did you get your first break in this area?
I was among a small group of editors who were asked to form the first Photojournalism Advisory Council to the Board of Trustees of the Alexia Foundation. After several years I was asked to be the Foundation’s first Executive Administrator.
What paths have you taken to get to where you are today?
My paths to being at the Alexia Foundation have been a natural sequence of strong interest in the importance of honesty and integrity in photojournalism. I have always been an advocate for photographers being treated equally with reporters and advocating that photographers must have the same high ethical standards as writing journalists.
What advice about the do's and don'ts would you give to an aspiring photojournalist looking at gaining a grant?
Obtaining a grant is very difficult because there is a tremendous amount of competition, not just for the Alexia grant, but for all photographic grants. There are fewer and fewer organizations, be they publications or non-profit organizations, giving work to photographers.
A photographer must have a strong passion on a subject that she/he wants to report on. She/he must do a tremendous amount of research on the subject. One of the most difficult things for many photographers to do is to write the grant proposal. The Alexia Foundation requires each applicant to write a 750 word essay on why she/he wants to do the project; why it is important; what is the issue; how will the photographer accomplish what she/he wants to do/ what will the impact be of she/his photographs be on this subject.
How do your professional grants make a difference?
Photographic grants make a huge impact because they allow a photographer to dig deep into a subject and then through her/his photographs to show the world a subject that most people have never seen and know little about. Issue need to be brought to the public’s attention. A reporter’s words can do that, but a photographers strong images have a lasting impact on the viewing public’s reaction to those images.
The Alexia Foundation helps give photographers their voice to do the work that helps drive change.
James C. Dooley Executive Administrator Alexia Foundation For World Peace Dedicated to documentary photography
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