Today my blog takes on a new name –– and renewed focus.Working Photographer is the name, and the focus is all about innovation, adaptation and the survival skills photographers need and use today. And not just to make pictures, but to make pictures work. We all know the photography world is changing. But from my perspective, after forty years in the business (with twenty five of them contributing to National Geographic Magazine and Traveler) that's not a new story. I can't remember a time when somebody wasn't predicting (maybe even correctly) that the sky was falling. I still remember viscerally the shudders that went through the photographic world when the original LIFE magazine died. All of our dreams went up in smoke that day! Or at least that's the way it seemed at the time. On the other hand news comes to day that The Digital Journalist, Dirck Halstead's brave and valuable online magazine for photojournalists, may well be on its last legs. After years of sponsorship Canon pulled the plug. If that bastion of photojournalism is to survive it may well have to be through contributions from concerned photographers. You can read the story and make a contribution by going here: http://digitaljournalist.org/pledge.html (Good luck to that brave band of brothers and sisters.) Meanwhile whenever I go on Flickr I see that photographers around the world have uploaded another 8,000 pictures –– IN THE LAST MINUTE! And frankly, there is a lot of good photography there. Not photojournalism, but amazing imagery. Digital has opened the floodgates. Sometimes I feel like I can't keep my head above the rising waters. Let me be frank: I've been lucky. I got my start in photography at the Topeka Capital Journal in the early 1970's where Rich Clarkson assembled and nurtured a group of photographers who would go on to do great things. Just walk down the halls of National Geographic (and maybe into the editor's office) and you'll find a host of Topeka alumni. While at Topeka I got my start in documentary photography going back to small-town Kansas. That led to my connection with Howard Chapnick at Black Star. Then I did a number of books for Bill Strode's small publishing concern, Harmony House. (Bill had it down pat and he could explain it all with that Kentucky gentleman accent that was his trademark.) After a stint at the Denver Post my entry into the freelance world was amazingly easy. Tom Kennedy offered up my first assignment as a freelancer for National Geographic on the strength of what he had seen me do in Cuba, Kansas. By and by that led me into my longtime friendship and collaboration with Dennis Dimick, then a picture editor, now an executive editor of National Geographic magazine and one of the strongest voices for the environment in journalism today. But most of all I was lucky to remain flexible. I know I disappointed some photographers when I started moving beyond my black and white documentary roots. But I was a working photographer with a family (and LIFE was dead.) Assignments to do black and white documentary stories were (and are) virtually non-existent. So I learned other skills. I learned other ways of doing stories. And I took up new interests that became the core of the subject matter that I covered. On the business side Craig Aurness with WestLight ushered me into the stock photography world. My experiences with early audio-visual presentations (like Reflections from a Wide Spot in the Road) led me into public speaking. Wanderlust led me into doing travel photography for Traveler magazine (and into my friendship with Dan Westergren and Keith Bellows). That led me into our series of Traveler photography seminars. And somewhere in there came a host of workshops for Santa Fe Workshops and travels for National Geographic Expeditions. Funny thing is, when I look around at other photographers who have survived in this business, they all tell much the same story. They adapted. They learned new skills, they kept growing, they kept an eye on the changing world of photography and publishing, and they found (or made) a niche for themselves. They never did just one thing! Most of all, they found ways to put their pictures to work. If there is one universal talent among successful photographers it is that they find ways (sometimes nefarious, sometimes inspired) to get their pictures seen and used. They understand that pictures have real work to do in this world. Photographs are not just pretty objects to be admired and fawned over. Good pictures ought to have some dirt under their fingernails and grease on their hands. Great pictures don't have to be coddled on a gallery wall to do great work. Working pictures make things happen. They change how we see the world, they make us act differently, they right wrongs, they change society. All that is what Working Photographer is about. Sure it's about staying alive. But it's also about staying true. Not easy these days, but nothing else really counts.