Los Angeles Times photographer shares his story

An award winning photographer discussed his life behind the lens as part of the Media Arts Speakers series on Thursday, March 13 in The Great Hall.

Kirk McKoy is currently the senior photo editor for the features section and also senior photographer for the Los Angeles Times.  He has been with the Los Angeles Times for over twenty-five years.

He began his journey with journalism after he was profiled by a police officer who thought he had robbed a store. After being falsely accused by the officer, McKoy complained and tracked him down with the help of one of his friends who was a journalism major.

“I was literally doing investigative journalism trying to find this guy,” McKoy said.

His big break came when he covered the Whittier earthquake in 1987.  McKoy was with a friend who worked for the Los Angeles Times when they received the news and rushed down to the scene.  McKoy was told covering the earthquake would be his interview for the Los Angeles Times.

McKoy was a part of the Pulitzer prize winning team that covered the Los Angeles riots in 1992 and the Northridge earthquake in 1994, and now photographs entertainment and fashion for the Los Angeles Times.

“The LA Riots was one of my most memorable experiences,” McKoy said. 

McKoy had rushed down with his team to South Central, LA. Despite getting jumped, beat up by five different people, he still stayed and got photos for his assignments.

Students in the Great Hall listened as McKoy shared pictures and stories of his journey in the field of photography.

“I would like to see different perceptions of mundane things,” student Daniel Sarver said.

After the speaking event, students were inspired to become better photojournalists.

“I got a new kind of drive,” Ana Sierra said. “You can shoot for whatever you want to shoot, but at the same time there are so many things going on in your world that you might as well shoot it.”

“I never thought of photography as art, but now I see that it really is art,” Sagahar Alizadeh said.  “It’s art with technology.”

 McKoy ended his speech encouraging the crowd to not be afraid to pursue their goals

“Take a little initiative about what you’re doing,” Mckoy said. “Have a thought and idea about what you want to do, how you want to say it, and just go do it. Don’t wait for anybody to say yeah, you need to go do that. Just go do it.”