DAA 2017: Bryan Moss, BA’66

Bryan Moss’ photojournalism career took him to 13 newspapers in nine states and led to two staff Pulitzer Prizes during four decades.

Raised in Corydon, Indiana, Moss studied journalism and science writing at Indiana University and was a member of the Indiana Daily Student newspaper. He met his wife, Mary Jo (Davis), BA’73, in the darkroom at Ernie Pyle Hall.

Moss graduated from IU in 1966. He and Mary Jo both became photojournalists, which made it difficult for the couple to stay in one place for long. Most newspapers at the time had rules prohibiting married couples from working together. Throughout their careers, they took turns freelancing and working full-time at newspapers.

After college, Moss worked as staff photographer at The Paper in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Sunday Courier & Press in Evansville, The Herald-Telephone in Bloomington and the Evening News in Buffalo, New York.

He became staff photographer and later night picture editor at the Courier-Journal and Times in Louisville. There, he was one of eight staff photographers, including Melissa Farlow, BA’74, who contributed to the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photographic coverage of a controversial court-mandated public school busing program intended to achieve integration.

Farlow, a 2012 IU School of Journalism Distinguished Alumni Award honoree, said of Moss, “When I came to the Louisville newspapers, Bryan was already on the staff — a fabulous staff, as good as you can get, and I would say Bryan Moss was a lot of the reason. He had the highest ethical standards and a good work ethic. He’s a soft-spoken, gentle person, but determined, a force in creating a creative climate.”

Moss worked next as director of photography for the Tallahassee Democrat before a brief career move into computer programming.

He returned to photojournalism as director of photography at the Rocky Mountain News, then moved to the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News. At The Mercury News, Moss oversaw the remodeling of the darkroom to allow for color printing and set up the paper’s first electronic picture desk operation.

Moss contributed to his second Pulitzer Prize at The Mercury News as director of photography. The paper won for its coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that struck California’s Bay area.

He returned to the San Francisco Chronicle as photography coach for a year before moving back to Indiana. He and Mary Jo founded the White Cloud Workshop, the first one-on-one, non-shooting workshop for photojournalists.

When the Evansville Courier & Press approached Moss about becoming director of photography, he proposed that he and Mary Jo share the job. The paper’s management agreed. Finally, their shared passion for photojournalism helped their careers, rather than creating roadblocks.

Moss went on to work at the St. Louis Post Dispatch and The Cincinnati Post before creating The Kentucky Post online, a new concept for newspaper websites that focused on rich storytelling of prep sports.

Moss has been named Indiana Photographer of the year twice. He is author of the book PHOTOSYNTHESIS — A Simple Guide to the Magic of Photography.

He now runs a website called Life in Corydon, a site that tells the story of the community of his hometown of Corydon through photography. It highlights photographs of ordinary people doing ordinary things, a philosophy of photojournalism he has espoused over his 50-year career.

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