March 3, 2014
Andrew Nelles, a former Chicago Sun-Times photographer. (Photo by Andrew Nelles)

When the photo staff at the Orlando Sentinel was told they’d have to reapply for their jobs last week and that those jobs would be “videocentric,” according to a report from the National Press Photographers Association, “it seemed extremely familiar,” said Andrew Nelles, a Chicago-based freelance photographer, in a phone interview.

Nelles only worked for the Chicago Sun-Times for nine months before he and the entire photo staff were laid off in May of last year. Nelles, who freelanced before that job, was able to bounce back into freelance quickly.

“But that’s not the case for most people,” he said.

The most important thing, he said, is to make the transition quickly. Despite what photojournalists have faced in recent years, with layoffs, changes and newsrooms depending more on reporters and their phones, Nelles remains upbeat about his industry.

“I’m always optimistic about the industry,” he said. “There’s always going to be a place for quality photojournalism.”

For him, though, that place isn’t back at the Sun-Times. In December, the Chicago Newspaper Guild announced the Sun-Times would rehire four photographers, WMAQ‑TV reported.

Nelles did not reapply.

“I couldn’t see a reason to go back there,” he said. “Four photographers doing the work that 28 did previously seems like a warning sign already.”

Robert Channick wrote about the deal for the Chicago Tribune when it was announced on December 3.

“In this negotiation, we were able to gain something back during onerous times in the newspaper industry. Four photographers will be rehired by Sun-Times (Media) in the next 90 days,” Chicago Newspaper Guild Executive Director Craig Rosenbaum said in a statement.

Today, Monday, marks day 90.

The Sun-Times and the Chicago Newspaper Guild haven’t returned calls or e-mails requesting comment.

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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