The Digital Journalist
Diana Walker:

December 2007

by Anne Tyler

Copyright © 2007 Diana Walker

[Reprinted with permission from the book The Bigger Picture: 30 Years of Portraits by Diana Walker. Copyright © 2007 Diana Walker. All rights reserved.]


She's not at all scary to look at. She has a rangy, casual style to her and an easy laugh. She comes sauntering in with her cameras and you think, Where's the harm? Let her snap a photo or two.

For what it's worth.

She travels around the room repositioning a lamp here and assessing the lighting there. Meanwhile, she's talking. Oh, this and that, la-la-la, and what do you think? It's not difficult to answer her, since she hardly seems to be listening. She peers down into some instrument and makes a minute adjustment. She says, "Mmhmmm." Her eyes flicker briefly in your direction.

Watch out.

Watch out, Ms. Smith! (Or Senator. Or Mr. President.)

Those eyes are two of the keenest in the business.

Like a novelist or a poet, she gives full value to the significance of detail. Notice how she photographs not just the man but his office, taking in the clutter or the lack of clutter, the spread of papers on a desk, the books helter-skelter on the shelves. Or how she registers a royal wife's slantwise glance at her husband, or a diplomat's tensed hands.

Oh, she's very good with hands.

Still, if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear. Just look at the young Ugandan boy on page 193 – his serene and peaceful face. Look at the South African AIDS patient on page 196. "I think of this picture as hopeful," she says as she studies her photo of the South African. She says she can't explain why. The bright colors, maybe? His careful placement of his belongings? She says she views him with respect. She says she views all of her subjects with respect.

The South African knows that, you can tell from his posture. All of us know that.

Relax, Ms. Smith.

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Anne Tyler is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist.