Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

A trio of body boarders swirls in the surf as they simultaneously catch a wave at Seal Beach.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Los Feliz residents David LaVera, Aimee Zannoni and a pug named Toaster cool off in the Mulholland Memorial Fountain as temperatures soared into the 90s on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Anna Hasselbring, left, her sister Alison, Joy Goodman and Shaunna DiMaio hope their wings help them fly during the Flugtag "Flying Day" competition at the Pine Avenue Pier in Long Beach on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010. College teams with homemade, human-powered flying craft will launch off a 30-foot platform in the hope of achieving flight before crashing into the waters of Rainbow Lagoon. The girls are from Northern Arizona University and fly under the slogan of "You Fly Like A Girl."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

An LAPD officer clears Nokia Plaza of rowdy fans after the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

The Glendora Tartans celebrate their victory over the Yucaipa Thunderbirds in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 baseball championship game Saturday, June 5, 2010, at the Diamond in Lake Elsinore.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Music fans wait to see Jay Z perform at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

After being told that no more people would be allowed in, Charles Russell Jr., 50, begs for medical care outside the Los Angeles Sports Center, where Remote Area Medical clinic is operating. Only 1,200 wristbands were handed out Wednesday, April 28, 2010, leaving many disappointed and frustrated.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A Minnesota Twins coach hits balls to players before the MLB Opening Day game between the Angels and the Twins in Anaheim.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

LAPD Officer Deon Joseph tries to persuade a church group from South Los Angeles not to distribute free food to the homeless on skid row. Every week people from across Southern California come to skid row to distribute food and clothing to the needy. Downtown business owners complain about the trash left behind and city officials worry about food safety and sanitation. Pressure is building on groups that feed the homeless to move their services inside.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

UCLA students gather Friday, June 4, 2010, outside the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after hearing that legendary Bruin basketball Coach John Wooden had passed away. Wooden, 99, won 10 national tiltles between 1964 and 1975. He had been in failing health for several months.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A runner finds himself alone on the descent from Dodger Stadium at the start of the 2010 Los Angeles Marathon.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Jade and Amber Fox wait in line to obtain a marriage license after learning on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010, that a judge had struck down a permanent ban on gay marriage as mandated by Proposition 8. However, a temporary stay on same-sex marriages remains in effect.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Teacher Danyel Jackson reads a book to participants in a summer literacy program at the United Methodist Church of Lynwood. The six-week program was created by the Childrens Defense Fund and is modeled after educational efforts employed in the South during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

The spacious lobby of Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. In recent years, it has been the site of dozens of feature film and TV shoots.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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A daily news photographer at work

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A daily news photographer at work

When I tell people I’m a photojournalist with the Los Angeles Times, their eyes light up and they ask me if I’ve traveled to exotic locations, covered wars or photographed famous people. And, yes, I’ve  done all of those things, including trips to Iraq, the Philippines, Indonesia, Central America and the Arctic. But the bulk of my job is made up of “dailies”—the nuts-and-bolts stories that make the paper every day. These photos usually include schoolkids, ballgames, portraits, cops, press conferences and the weather.

Some assignments are great, some are not. You play the cards you’re dealt. There’s a saying among Times photo editors: “There are no bad assignments, only bad photographers.”

Dailies make you think and work fast. Pictures are commonly toned, captioned and transmitted directly from the scene. There’s a paper to fill every day, and the Internet just can’t get enough still images or video. It’s no longer a matter of quantity versus quality; it’s quality in quantity. That normally means filing three to six strong photos as soon as I can for online photo galleries and preferably before the afternoon editorial meeting. There are later print deadlines as well, and I’m commonly filing up to the last minute.

It’s definitely not as easy as it looks. I often don’t have control of the  location, light and situations unfolding in real time. Midday sun, which creates harsh highlights and deep shadows,  and dark arenas with flat lighting are common challenges. In many instances, it’s a matter of making something from nothing. But it’s not just about working fast to get a good photo; I have to understand the story.

I know the readers are counting on me to take photos that draw them in, make them feel the action, emotion or importance of fleeting moments. I’m also aware of my subject’s feelings—that being in the Los Angeles Times could be the most exciting—or the worst—thing that’s ever happened to them.

Every now and then I get an assignment that touches me personally. Recently, I photographed Herman Leonard, whose smoke-filled, black-and-white images of jazz music greats are treasured masterpieces.

Herman LeonardHe graciously showed me his portfolio and shared some wisdom: Stay true to your vision, trust your instincts and don’t pay too much attention to critics, he said.

Leonard passed away in August at the age of 87. It was an honor to meet an icon like him and, quite possibly, have taken the very last photo published of him.

It’s a matter of approaching each assignment with openness. Sure, maybe I’ve “been there and done that.” Sometimes, the payoff does not match the effort when my picture doesn’t make the cover and gets buried on the inside pages. Still, my name goes on every single image in print and online. Pride and discipline dictate that I give it 100% every time.

Luis Sinco is a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times. A portfolio of his work can be viewed here.


  1. September 16, 2010, 8:23 am

    mr.sinco,i’ve always enjoyed photography as a hobby,and as an artform.i admire your work very much and find it very interesting too. -ed in dallas-

    By: ed
  2. September 16, 2010, 1:21 pm

    Mr. Sinco always manages to capture with a click the very soul of the people he photographs. The Times is, indeed, fortunate to have such a gifted photographer on its staff.

    By: Sylvia Palmer
  3. September 17, 2010, 1:45 am

    Excellent article ! Many thanks for sharing this wisdom !

    By: ranklord

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