Among the best freelance editorial photographers in KY

Mid-South photojournalist and Kentucky photographer Billy Suratt getting soaked by rain while on the campaign trail covering former House Speaker New Gingrich's 2012 presidential campaign in South Carolina.

Being an editorial photographer requires going where the story is, regardless of weather, and we often end up working in less-than-ideal conditions (sometimes, some of the most harsh conditions imaginable). Here, I’m getting soaked by rain on the campaign trail in South Carolina covering former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign. Gingrich won South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate since 1980 to win the Palmetto State primary but go on to lose the GOP nomination. (© 2012 Billy Suratt)

Why editorial photography is unique

Editorial photographers are a different breed because we’re accustomed to shooting for publications with high quality demands and firm deadlines — there’s no such thing as waiting for a photo when it’s time to roll the presses. We have to do it in some of the most harsh and varied conditions imaginable, too.

I’ve been photographing stories of regional and national interest for some of the world’s largest (and smallest) publications for parts of four decades now, so I have the skill and experience needed to pull off most any assignment.

My editorial photography specialties

Photographing a Mennonite funeral while standing on top of an RV. (© 2010 Carmen K. Sisson/Apex MediaWire)

Here I am photographing a Mennonite funeral from atop an RV, one of many unique experiences I’ve had in the past two decades as an editorial photographer for national and international publications. (Photo © 2010 Carmen K. Sisson/Apex MediaWire)

I’m as comfortable shooting a press conference as I am a Super Bowl (I’ve covered two) or anything in between, but my editorial specialties are politics and political photography, sports photography and concert photography. I also have a passion for covering issues in the transportation and public safety sectors, along with considerable expertise in those areas.

How many photographers do you know who’ve shot in the back of a moving ambulance or embedded with rescuers on drowning recovery operations? How about gaining nighttime access to a major military base to photograph tornado damage, or shooting inside the cargo hold of a wide-body jet airliner on the ramp at one of the busiest airports on the Eastern Seaboard? I’ve done all this and more.

In addition to countless other assignments, I’ve covered more than five presidential campaigns and four U.S. Senate races and more congressional, gubernatorial and local campaigns than I care to remember. I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph all three presidential aircraft (Air Force One, Air Force Two and Marine One) and I’ve even photographed a sitting president and vice president appearing together outside Washington, which doesn’t happen very often due to security concerns.

Among other ongoing projects, I’m working on a long-term documentary project on the coal supply chain, tracing the Appalachian mineral’s journey from its underground origin to consumption at its final destination, along with every step along the way.

These are just a few highlights from my more than three decades of experience as an editorial photographer; there have been many, many more.

Photography equipment

I use Canon EOS digital SLR camera equipment almost exclusively, primarily the EOS 1D Mark IV professional camera body. While the 1D MkIV may be an older camera, its 16.1 megapixel file output (4,896 by 3,264 pixels) and terrific low-light performance are more than sufficient for most needs. In addition, the rugged build quality and design of Canon’s flagship camera series help ensure I always come back with the shots I need.

Video equipment

I can capture 1080p video and do have some formal training and experience with audio and video production, but it’s not currently a major part of my work. It might be someday, but it’s not now.

Editorial photography experience

The first assignment I ever photographed for The Courier-Journal in Louisville was the A-1 lead. My editorial photos have run on the front pages of Kentucky’s two largest newspapers and in the pages of some of America’s largest and most respected news, sports and entertainment publications, including TIME, The Wall Street JournalGQ and ESPN: The Magazine.

Internationally, my work has been featured on at least four continents.

My news photos have also appeared in a lot of publications I’ve never heard of (and will probably never even find out about) because I’ve done so much work for wire services through the years.

I primarily shoot for Apex MediaWire and remain under contract with ZUMA Press for select archive sales. You used to be able to license my work via Getty Images, but I fired them because they’re the worst thing that’s ever happened to the editorial photography industry.

Does it sound like I’d be a good fit for your next editorial photography project? Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss it. I’m very selective about taking on new clients nowadays and I never do work-made-for-hire, period. Ever.

If you’re looking for a photographer willing to sign a work-for-hire contract, look elsewhere. If you’re a reasonable human who needs limited rights (or if you need all rights and have the budget for it), let’s talk.

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