Wednesday , August 13, 2014 - 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON D.C. — She followed President Barack Obama on his campaign trail for re-election. She found herself in an Egyptian prison while covering the country’s revolution. She also spent time among the Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, finding herself in make-shift camps in the rubble of conflict.
Her name is Linda Davidson and she’s an award-winning photojournalist for the Washington Post in D.C.
Davidson is a native Utahn, who grew up in Mountain Green and graduated from Morgan High School. She received her bachelors degree in television broadcast media from the University of Utah.
It was in the final semesters of Davidson’s undergraduate education that she decided photojournalism was the route for her. After working as a producer at KUTV in Salt Lake City, she began looking for experience in photojournalism and was the Salt Lake Tribune’s first photo desk intern.
Davidson has been with the Washington Post since 2002, capturing conflict, elections, wildlife and stories of human interest. She was offered a position the day she walked into the newsroom, ironically having moved to the area to get away from the world of newspapers to attend acupuncture school.
“... So I figured I would give it a go,” she said. “How often would that ever happen?”
Although international work isn't a regularity for Davidson, she’s experienced things most people living state-side never will. This includes being arrested and detained while working in Cairo during the Egyptian revolution in 2011.
“The army was going around and picking up foreigners, and we just happened to be among them,” she said. “So they blindfolded us, and obviously searched us….and then we were taken on a bus at gun point into an army interrogation area and photographed. I had a very nice interrogator, I must say, I really did. He wasn't a jerk.”
Davidson continues that the interrogator verified her identity via Facebook. Davidson knew she was in a facility where most people are not released so quickly.
“That was not the normal experience for people who are brought to that facility. I was very lucky.”
Davidson’s work documenting the stories of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey brought her to the heart of the complicated crisis. For three weeks she heard their stories and captured the conflict in photographs.
“It’s just hard to see people suffering, and feeling that it’s on such a big scale like that and hope that what you’re doing will make a difference,” she said. “That’s my frustration now. There’s so much out there, newswise or whatever, and I don’t know whether it’s overwhelming for people to read about these things and ask, ‘What can I do?’ Back in the day when there were only three TV stations and two newspapers in your area you could actually see the results of something because you had so many eyes on you. But now they’re all scattered so it’s harder to tell if you make a difference anymore.”
But Davidson isn’t always flying across continents to capture stories of human interest. Her favorite topics to cover are those that aren’t easily unwound without documenting the lives of the families and people involved. She gives an example of a current trend she’s following, the Native Americans in her area and the issues that surround their community. She said speaking with one family, learning the problems they face as individuals, helps map a more complicated problem.
“If you spend some time with them and get to know them, you can really show a relationship with them and their issues,” she said. “I find those rewarding.”
Of course, as a photographer, Davidson prefers the visual journalism over the written form.
“There’s not really much editorialism with photography,” she said. “You can’t go in there and massage it….It’s very truthful, because you can’t go in and change a photograph, ethically or for any other reason. It is what it is.”
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