He may be among the most well-known - yet is often the most invisible - of Enterprise Publishing's staff members.
As he walks down the halls of Fort Calhoun and the Blair Elementary schools, students often wave and yell to the "newspaper man," or the "camera dude," or just "Photo Joe." You might spot him at a concert, carefully composing shots of an instrumentalist, or behind the foul lines at a school baseball game, or shooting stills at the site of a fire. Sometimes, he's nearly invisible, with his face hidden behind a lens. But if there's one thing that's for certain, it's that Joe Burns of Blair really gets around.
Burns will be the featured speaker at the next Washington County Historical Association Talk (W-CHAT), slated for 7:15 p.m. next Thursday, April 14, at Too Far North in Fort Calhoun. Enterprise Publishing's photographer will offer a unique perspective - from behind the lens - and share his knowledge with attendees at the event.
"We are delighted to have Joe Burns as a presenter in our W-CHAT series," said WCHA executive director Mark Schulze. "He is an award-winning photographer who has seen and participated in the photographic revolution that has taken place over the past 30 years."
Burns, an Omaha native, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in English/education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and has taken numerous workshops and classes in journalism and photography. He retired from Omaha Public Schools after 32 years of teaching English, journalism and photography at Benson High School.
Teaching is still in his blood: Burns has taught photography classes at Metro Community College for a number of years while simultaneously working as a reporter and freelance photographer for Enterprise Publishing. His photography has captured numerous first place awards for spot news, feature photos, sports photography and other categories from the Nebraska Press Association in its annual "Better Newspaper" contest. He has been a member of the National Press Photographers Association for the past eight years and the Nebraska Press Photographers Association.
"I've always enjoyed photography and started taking lots of photos when I was teaching. I took a backpack trip to Europe and then came back and used those photos in my English and humanities classes," Burns said. "I continued to use photos in teaching and finally, the principal at Benson, asked me to serve as the yearbook advisor."
Burns' presentation will be "Tips for Making Pictures that Tell Stories," and will include what Enterprise staff like to see in photos submitted to the newspaper; equipment recommendations; the basics of photography, including camera anatomy, shutter speed, etc.; tips for taking great action and people pictures; storage, display and publishing your photos; and resources for inspiration and information.
"Whether you have your cell phone camera or the most sophisticated equipment, Joe will help you to improve your skills," adds Schulze. "As the travel season draws near, it is always a good idea to update your skills and learn new techniques. Bring your camera and questions to ask the expert and get ready to enter the county fair and Enterprise photo contests later this year. As always, refreshments will be served and beer and wine will be available at Too Far North."