Small Town, Big Clicks : "Along the Way"

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We all have dreams and passions and talents.
So often in the news, we hear when those dreams are dashed and broken.
But, this is the story of a young woman who moved here from California, a few years ago, to work as a photographer for the Rapid City Journal.
And now she's taken her passion to a new level.

So what is she doing now? And why does she love it? The answer, as we go Along the Way right here in Rapid City.

Kristina Barker looks through the lens of a camera as though it were an extension of her eyes. It's always been a sort of -- magical looking glass-- through which she sees the world.

Freelance Photographer Kristina Barker says, "I took photos on every family vacation we ever had with disposable cameras when disposable cameras were easy to get at the drug store."

After a few years working for the Rapid City Journal, she now has her own business, "Kristina Barker Photography". It includes wedding photography, and family photos...but her favorite part is being a freelance photojournalist for some of the biggest newspapers and magazines on the planet.

Freelance Photographer Kristina Barker says, "The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, so some different wire agencies."
Barker also says, "A publication I get to work with really frequently would be the New York Times, um I've gotten the opportunity to work with Buzz Feed, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Bleacher Report."

For a news photojournalist, the names don't get much bigger than that. In a smaller community like ours, it's usually not easy to get her hands on hard copies of the publications she gets pictures in, so she shows us on her computer...small photog credits to the eye, but big achievements that can be seen around the globe.

Barker says, "I think of myself as an introverted extrovert that I have a hard time sometimes coming out of my shell around people that I don't know too well and for me my camera is a tool that I'm very comfortable with to be able to connect with people."

These days some stuff is *only* published on the internet like this photo essay she did for 'The Atlantic' magazine (Clip 9). So here's how it usually works; she says she gets contacted by a photo editor for one of these monsters of media, who send her to take pictures to accompany a reporter's written words. You could say it's a niche' market.

Barker says, "We have so few freelance photojournalists in our region that there's a very small list of folks that can be called up on a moments notice to go cover a story."
She also says, "But I pretty much cover all of South Dakota, all of North Dakota, parts of Eastern Montana, and parts of Eastern Wyoming, and then occasionally in Nebraska as well."

And when you add her newspaper years to her freelance work she's covered a lot of ground, and thankful she gets paid for mileage.

"I have, throughout my career in South Dakota, almost 10 years. I've driven over 220, almost 230-thousand miles," she says.
"But typically we get paid per day, or per day and per photo that gets used. It just kind of depends on the publication," says Barker.

And while she's doing what she loves...it is far from glamorous.

Barker says, " I've camped for assignments before. I've stayed in my car and just slept for a couple of hours. I've slept like at the gas station"

Since we're in a largely rural area the big city news calls can be sporadic, but always a thrill.

"I am my most fearless and my least shy when I am reporting on a story with my camera in hand," says Barker.

She says, "So I hope 10 years from now that I still get to have assignments that bring me to ranches, people's homes, small schools, to be able to tell stories about people that are living there."

Because when your dream is taking pictures, taking pictures is a dream come true.

She says she earns about 30 percent of her income from the photojournalism part of her business but spends about 70 percent of her time doing it...in comparison with wedding pictures and stuff.

Her website is easy enough to find it's Kristina Barker dot com.

If you've got an idea for an Along the Way please call us, or e-mail me at stevel@blackhillsfox.com.