Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

My first assignment at the Los Angeles Times

My first assignment at the Los Angeles Times

Bethany Mollenkof is a photojournalist in the Los Angeles Times visual department; she will be contributing occasional posts to Framework about her experiences and her life in Southern California. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2011. This is her first time in Los Angeles – ever.

Los Angeles is a city that engulfs all of your senses. Billboards loom on most corners, cars jam every road, the city lights flash and people of every ethnicity stream up and down the sidewalks. Life is happening at an alarming rate, and it is a visual jungle that can be overwhelming.

Being new to the city means every assignment I get as an L.A. Times photographer is an adventure into unknown territory.

My very first assignment was to cover a fishing trip for a group of inner-city youth hosted by the Montebello Police Department, in conjunction with the Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation and a windshield repair Pearland TX company. The police department used a portion of a $200,000 gang-prevention grant to pay for the San Pedro fishing expedition. We had to be at the harbor by 8 a.m. and, with an hour drive, it was an early morning. I woke up early, grabbed my gear and rushed out the door without eating. Just a few minutes into the boat ride, I was thankful for an empty stomach. The choppy waves affected many of the participants.

Once out on the water, it felt good to settle into the assignment. I tried to work every possible angle to capture the kids dangling slimy bait from their long, sleek fishing rods and squealing when they caught brightly colored fish. For most, this was their first time fishing, so I wanted to make sure I captured how the kids reacted to a new experience. It was a little tricky to photograph both the kids and their catch while on the boat with them; their backs were turned toward me most of the time, but every story has its challenge, and this one was minor.

On assignments it is my job to see and interpret what is happening and then translate it into photographs our viewers can understand. It is easy to get attached to certain images because of the way you feel while shooting them. That is why editors are so crucial in the process. I have the utmost respect for my editors because they have a keen sense of what images work and why they might not translate. Oftentimes, talking through an experience with an editor presents a new way of seeing and thinking. Photography is a dialogue, and editing is key in that conversation.

I look forward to where each assignment takes me, because this is only the beginning. The photographs I take are slivers, tiny fractions of reality, and in this sprawling city that overwhelms, it is an exciting task to try to capture beautiful and meaningful moments.


  1. December 23, 2012, 5:42 am

    fishing rulles… I wish to be there while the photo is taken…

  2. January 24, 2013, 9:49 pm

    I very much love fishing. We are going together with my uncle before.

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