Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Peter Tobia: "It's About Being A Part of History."

WHAT DID YOU THINK of today's guest, photojournalist Peter Tobia?

Here are a few things that stood out for me:

- He wanted to be a writer. He took a photo course in college and everything clicked (ha!).
- Traveling around the world for stories allowed him to grow personally as well as professionally. By traveling, he learned about the world.
- He says that to be successful, you need to know your craft, be aware of the news of the world, and be tenacious.
- "If you want to be good at something," he says, "you have to put the time in."
- He covered events where upwards of 40,000 people were screaming, "Death to Americans."
- When he saw a woman suffering, he shuttled her to a hospital. Some of his journalism colleagues thought that was not ethical, that journalists should not get involved in stories.
- As a newspaper photojournalist, he has traveled to Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Suriname, among other places.
- He photographed the Taliban.
- He says that understanding the local culture is important for journalists.
- Now that he has a four-year old son, he's not sure he would travel to such dangerous places for work again.
- He tries to capture the humanity in war - like the family living on the former military base, where unexploded bombs rest along roadsides.
- He felt an obligation as a journalist to cover the conflicts abroad. It's history, he says, and he wants people to understand.
- What he has seen and experienced has impacted him mentally at times.
- "Those who suffer most are the least involved," he says of citizens living in war-torn areas.


Samantha Anderson said...

It was great to hear from someone who actually LOVES what they do. It is rather refreshing because I feel like a lot of people are unhappy and forever striving for more.

I loved hearing about the stories behind his photos. Which surprised me since I don't really care for photojournalism.

Christine A. Killion said...

I thought that he was very interesting and had a lot of insight in the world of journalism. It IS nice to hear someone who is passionate about what they do. It sounded like he really was making a difference in the world and recording history as it happened. Great lecture.

Justin Verterano said...

I thought he was pretty interesting with what he had to offer. Great advice, and the pictures he displayed were amazing.

Andrew Weiser said...

I thought he had some very interesting stories. I wasn't really considering a career in photojournalism until I heard him speak. It sounds like an exciting lifestyle with a lot of rewarding experiences.

Lisa Jiang said...

I thought it was so courageous of him to go to dangerous places and explore the world around him. It seems like he loves what he does and would risk his life to get the story out there. It was a great experience to listen to His experiences.

Steph Ferretti said...

I really enjoyed listening to him today and I thought his pictures were amazing. I agreed with a lot of the things he said, especially what he said about citizens living in war-torn areas. I admire him for his courage to go over there at a time where Americans weren't liked. All in all, he was a great speaker and I learned a lot from him.

Jon Delp said...

i thought he had alot of insightful things to say about the photojournalism career..the two most interesting/powerful things that stood out to me were when he said that the people that suffer the most are the people that are least involved, and i also thought it was an extremely interesting reflection on our american media that he said it was ok for us to put pictures of dead middle easterns in the papers, but putting pictures of a dead american in the papers would be an outrage.He showed an unbiased view of the struggle of the other side that doesn't usually cross our minds.

Floc said...

He was absolutely excellent. I learned so much in that hour of time that he was there. I think my favorite part was when he talked about being a human as well as a journalist when he took that woman to a hospital. Despite the great reputation he seems to have and the amount of traveling he's done he seemed very genuine and humbled about his experiences. I think every-day people are the most photo-worthy subject matter, so I was thrilled to see his work.

Marlena Mozal said...

Great speaker! It was neat to hear about his experiences and how his life has been impacted by his traveling. I felt it was a very motivational presentation. Great guy with a huge passion for photojournalism!

Francis Hilario said...

I really enjoyed his presentation and thought his photographs were amazing--very inspiring. To me, what stood out was when he said that those who suffer the most are the one who are least involved. It's nice to hear from someone who has actually been around the effects of war say that the media doesn't paint an accurate picture on it because we've mentioned it in class but Mr. Tobia has actually been there. I also appreciated that he would back away from taking someone's photograph if they asked him not to. I just found the entire presentation inspirational.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie Forman:
Although I am not interested in a career in journalism, I thought Peter Tobia had alot of good suggestions and tips about what he does. He has alot of experience from working in this career and being able to travel. I also think he takes really good and interesting pictures that really capture the feelings and emotions.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a great presentation. I could really tell that he loved his job and I think that's very important, especially with a career that has limited job oportunities today. I thought his work was great and it got me interested in photo journalism as a possible career for myself.

C.David Freitag said...

Add an S and you get some warm over-exposed amateur work but I cant find a website on this guy besides his Facebook. You'd think he would have one considering he is freelancing now. Judging by the amount of photo albums he has, 79 to be exact, he uses it for business. FB is good for networking and previewing but not for portfolios or cataloging. I didn't plan for this to be critical. Just something I noticed. I suppose my disappointment at not getting to view more of his work (in a concise easily accessible format), may have been part of the impetus for such remarks.Regardless, I thought he was very genuine and engaging. I've always wanted to be a photojournalist bc I want to travel the world and my mom made me promise I wouldn't join the military like every other man in my family. So when I would picture myself overseas covering important events, war specifically, I imagined myself embedded with troops. I didn't consider it would actually be less dangerous and allow for more freedom not to be. I guess I was still romanticizing the situation. Between his comments and just finishing Rumor of War by Phillip Caputo, I hold no such ideals or illusions. I wanted to ask him if after he helped that woman the first time did he feel more or less compelled to help someone the next time the situation arose . . . roll that around alittle. Makes me think about 3:10 to Yuma and how the antagonist Ben Wade says he doesn't like being nice because “You do one good deed for someone, I’m guessing it’s habit forming.”

Leah Curran said...

Everything he said was so eye-opening. I loved listening to him.

Moumita Ghosh said...

It was great hearing from Peter Tobia. I was truly amazed after knowing the fact that he stood between thousands of people in Afganisthan and Iraq and was a part of their gathering while they were praying for deaths of Americans. I also liked how he took the dying woman on the street to the hospital. Even though his colleagues told him later that it was not his responsibilty to help out the woman, Peter did what he could to help her out. In the middle of wars and bombs, he spent the night with the man who would sleep outside of his house in order to protect his family. And the man's wife was pregnant with their second child. I liked how Peter brought out and showed us images ans stories of people in Afganisthan and Iraq and the hardship in their lives and the pain they go thorugh everyday.

Que said...

I never experienced hearing the stories behind someone's professional photographs, such as Mr. Peter Tobia. He has shown me, how dangerous it can be to get photos, and stories in foreign countries that are in war, or conflict with America. I have a respect, for someone of his professional stature.

NewsNut said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Peter's contribution to the class. His thoughts and ideas were enlightening and touched on so much that we discussed in class prior to his visit. But most importantly he expressed a real concern regarding his belief that journalism should include respect and humanity with regard to the people and stories. Quite honestly Peter Tobia was one of my personal favorites and certainly one of the most helpful guest speakers George has included this semester. Thanks you to Peter for his valuable insight. This course by far is one that made me think the most, ask the most questions and laugh the most. Thus, I couldn't help but learn the most from this class. Thanks to George for the kind of education that sticks.
Shara Dae Howard

Geo said...


Peter just launched his official site - http://www.petertobiaphotographer.com/

- Geo
(the teacher)

Bill Carlson said...

He was an excellent speaker because of his experiences and insights. He was personable and genuine.

I would have also taken that woman to the hospital. There is nothing in journalism that says you can't retain your compassion and humanity. We're not talking about filming a baby pronghorn in the plains of Africa and chasing off a lion who attempts to eat it. Peter was my favorite speaker of the semester.

I have always thought about being a photographer but I don't know that I would have the balls to put myself into those types of high risk situations. Hanging out with the Taliban and dope fiends is either a sign of severe mental illness or an indication that he possesses a strong sense of moral duty and courage.

Diana Cooper said...

I'm soo glad Peter Tobia came in to speak with us about his career. It was very interesting to learn about everything he went through. It must have been really tough for him and I give him props for traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan especially when his life was on the line. It was really nice of him to help that sick woman go to the hospital. I feel so bad that he got laid off at the Inquirer and believe he deserves better.

Wafai.Dias said...

Peter Tobia is a man with true talent. I was so glad to finally meet someone that knows exactly what I'm talking about in regards to the Arab perspective. He gave us lessons on life, like when he said that there are three people in the world 1. people that make things happen 2. people that wait for things to happen and 3. people that wonder what happened. That's a really powerful statement to make especially because he's a primary source to the effects of warfare. I am so glad that I met a man like him. I am so proud of him for being brave enough to be with the people of Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. I am truly honored, elated, and thankful for his appearance at Temple.