Stories @ TCc
Award-winning Photographer Got His Start at TCC
TCC alum Rich-Joseph Facun (left) has made a life of photography, most recently winning first place in the general news reporting category in the 65th Annual Pictures of the Year International Competition. Fellow Virginian-Pilot photographer and Visual Arts Center instructor Stephen M. Katz won the competition's top honor - newspaper photographer of the year.
Rich-Joseph Facun began his relationship with TCC as a “young punk and teen father” – to use his own words. But, feeling responsibility to support his child, he left college to work, trying a range of jobs, always interested in learning something new.
At age 26 he rose to a respected employer’s bait that he’d never finish college, and returned to TCC – this time with determination and focus. While pursuing philosophy and religious studies, he took photography to satisfy a fine arts requirement. “It was pretty amazing. I entered my final class project and won first place in a Suffolk art show – that really got me thinking of photography as an option,” says Facun.
More classes and the Truth with a Camera workshop further hooked him. “By then I knew I was in love with photography but wasn’t sure how to make a living – until my dad suggested photojournalism. I transferred to Ohio University to study what it meant to be a photojournalist, the responsibility and the theory of journalism.” He earned his bachelor’s degree and interned throughout the United States, specifically in Ohio, South Carolina, Illinois and Arizona, landing his first newspaper job in 2001.
Rich describes himself as a “photographer who makes his living as a photojournalist,” but adds, “This is the best job in the world.” Especially, he notes, when compared to his earlier days as an uninsured shoe salesman, brick-mason laborer, landscaper, waiter and a canvaser for Green Peace.
A great believer in “doing it all,” Rich has balanced his career with being a sponsored skateboarder as well as a father, husband and freelance photographer at work on a book called Rollin’ Revival. “I’ve been shooting the project for about two years; I’ve made a prototype of the book and plan on shopping it around to various publishers within the year. In the meantime, I’ll just keep making photographs.”
His photography for The Virginian-Pilot just earned him first place from the prestigious Pictures of the Year International competition held annually by the Missouri School of Journalism, second place in the National Press Photographers Association’s Best of Photojournalism competition and six awards from the Virginia News Photographers Association – three firsts (one from his upcoming book on the resurgence of roller derby in the U.S.), two seconds and a third.