"I always consider myself more of a journalist than a photographer," Pulitzer Prize-winner Carolyn Cole said during Saturday's first session of Barnstorm presenters. "I don't have the natural eye like many do, and it's something I've had to work on." It's clearly been working, with far-flung international assignments as a Manhattan-based photographer for the Los Angeles Times, with tours through Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other trouble spots.
She showed a selection of that work, including a series on Afghan women, many still draped under burkas, but others not. She said one Afghan husband assured her that he would kill his own wife if she ever appeared in public without the traditional garment. But as Cole displayed the image of two smiling Afghan women outdoors without the head covering, she said other women "were expressing more freedom from day to day."
She's covered local and international news for the L.A. Times since the mid-90s. Her series of pictures from the civil crisis in Liberia was awarded the 2004 Pulitzer for feature photography. Some things are closer to home: In the U.S., she's covered everything from the OJ Simpson civil trial to high stakes presidential politics. And as part of her job at the Times, Cole is also called on for the occasional celebrity portrait, too often with too little time and a different set of problems. "This is a different kind of challenge for me. I usually have five minutes in an ugly hotel room."