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Press credentials that Anne Cusack was issued over about 25 years covering various events as a photojournalist.


A portrait Cusack took of her family, an accidental double exposure, at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois in the winter of 1958 when she was seven years old. It was shot with her first camera, a box camera. Clock wise from top, my father Patrick Cusack, mother Ellen Torrey brother Teddy, sister Patti, and sister Margaret.


A portrait Cusack took of her father, Patrick Cusack, as he holds his 16mm Bell & Howell movie camera at a Civil War memorial on a family vacation in 1958.


A carnival worker sells tickets to the German Fun House in Harvey, Ill., in 1974.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Star Tribune

Mother Teresa leaves after delivering a speech in downtown Chicago in the 1980s.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Chicago Tribune

Pope John Paul II visits Mexico in January 1979. This was the first of 104 international trips he would make, more than any other pope before him.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Chicago Tribune

Vietnamese boat people -- a mother and child -- at a refugee camp in Indonesia in 1978. They had escaped the plight of their war-torn country to overcrowded refugee camps.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Chicago Tribune

Christine Grotz, in 1984, holds her only child, Alexis, who is dying from a rare hereditary disease called metachromatic leukodystrophy, which attacks the nervous system.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Chicago Tribune

A homeless man sits on a street in Chicago in the 1970s.


Presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon pose for a portrait at the dedication ceremony of the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley on Nov. 4, 1991.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Sonia Luque, center, hugs her daughter, Michelle, 16, left, a student at Hueneme High School in Port Hueneme, after Oxnard police shot and killed a man on campus who allegedly held another student hostage after an altercation on Feb. 16, 2001.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Ventura County firefighters worked swiftly using a hand crew, a helicopter and a dozer to extinguish a quickly moving brush fire in Moorpark on June 16, 2001.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

The hands of Jose Martinez, 66, -- pictured March 13, 2002 -- who has worked in the fields of Ventura County since 1966, raising nine children .

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Crenshaw's Leon Watson shatters the backboard in a tournament game at Thousand Oaks High School on Sept. 2, 1994.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Peering through the window of the Golden Apple comic book store in Los Angeles on June 3, 2002, are, from left, Emile Hirsch, Jodie Foster, Kieran Culkin and Jena Malone. They all star in "Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Seneisa Estrada, 10, works out with a punching bag during training at Hollenbeck Youth Center in Boyle Heights on Sept. 26, 2002.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Marwa Niam is comforted March 6, 2005, at UCLA Medical Center in Westwood after having plastic surgery to restore her nose, which was blown off in an explosion in Iraq. Her mother was killed in the explosion. A humanitarian group brought her to the United States after she was teased by children in the war-torn country who called her "Miss No Nose."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

The space shuttle Endeavour arrives at the United hangar at Los Angeles International Airport on Sept. 21, 2012, after its cross-country trip from Florida.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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How I got into photography: Anne Cusack

We asked staff photographer Anne Cusack what sparked her interest in photography. This is the first in an occasional series of posts from our staff on how they got into the “business.” How about you? What got you interested in photography (add a comment below)?
By Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times

My first camera I remember so well was a black box camera that my father gave me. I can vividly picture my first family portrait with that camera. It was taken at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. One frame was clear. The second was an accidental double exposure. And hence I began photographing my family and my long love affair with photography began. As I look back at those photos, they were pretty bad.

My father worked for Bell & Howell and shot with his company’s 16mm movie camera. He gave all his children cameras. He was very sensitive to light and composition and would sometimes even direct the family to tell a story. My husband, photographer Richard Derk, once commented when seeing my father’s films, “That’s where you got your eye.”

The next turning point came when I went off to college at the University of Illinois. I did not have a career in mind but my sister Margaret had told me stories of her adventures shooting photos for the campus paper, the Daily Illini.  It sounded like fun, so I joined the staff following in her footsteps.  My father gave me my first Canon SLR camera, as Bell & Howell imported Canon at that time. I was hooked.  It was the late 1960s and there were violent demonstrations on campus. Working on the Daily Illini was an incredible experience.  Everyone was living, eating and breathing photojournalism. I met my husband there. He was a senior and the older students taught the younger students.  A great time for us was just going somewhere for the day and shooting photos. We once wondered if we would ever be able to just enjoy a sunset without photographing it.

One day I visited photojournalism professor Dick Hildwein to talk about the possibility of becoming a photojournalist. There was no photojournalism major at U of I and he wisely told me: “As a photojournalist you need to know a little bit about a lot of different things. So get a good liberal arts education.”

When I graduated from college with a degree in social work, I told my father I wanted to go into photography.  He looked horrified.  He then said, “Well, maybe medical photography.” I said, “No, photojournalism.”

I have had many amazing adventures over the years. I spent two months covering the boat people fleeing Vietnam, Pope John Paul’s visit to Mexico, a two-and-a-half-year project following a terminally ill child, Alexis Grotz, and a long-term story on Marwa, a little girl from Iraq whose nose was blown off in an explosion that also killed her mother. A UCLA physician was able to build her a new nose. I was able to follow her back to Jordan when she was reunited with her father.

The rest is history, working my way up from small papers to the Chicago Tribune and then the Los Angeles Times. I was quite happy my father told me how proud he was of me and my photojournalism career before he died.

Photo: Anne Cusack with her son George Derk in 1984.

1 Comment

  1. November 30, 2012, 8:15 am

    Love hearing stories like this!

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