A second veteran member of the New York Times bureau in Los Angeles is taking a buyout offer to leave the paper. Monica Almeida, the NYT's staff photographer for the last 18 years, posted on Facebook Sunday that she is leaving. She has worked in every state west of the Mississippi and many other places as well.
"Including my internships at the L.A. Times and my first staff job at the New York Daily News, I’ve been working as a photojournalist for 32 years and will keep on shooting for many more to come," she told friends. "This is not a retirement by any means. I’ve chosen to continue to live and work in LA where my roots run deep and where my heart is."
No word yet on whether the Times will be sending another photographer west. In 2008, Judy Graeme wrote for LA Observed's Native Intelligence blog that Almeida "has the perspective of a native Angeleno who covers Los Angeles for an east coast newspaper."
There is broad diversity in the stories she shoots. This year alone she has covered the presidential campaign and the Academy Awards, gay marriage and the Chatsworth train crash. Her editors expect her to deal with a wide range of assignments, juggling the often-difficult logistics of an east coast deadline.
Almeida, [then 48], grew up in La Puente. After graduation from Catholic school she attended Cal State Fullerton and began working at the Los Angeles Times as a customer service clerk in circulation. She transferred to Cal State Long Beach and studied photojournalism, acquiring basic darkroom skills and working on the school newspaper. That's when she began to discover the genre of interpretive documentary photography which continues to inform and inspire her work. "While in college I fell in love with photography through the work of Henri-Cartier Bresson, Mary Ellen Mark, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, Roy De Carava, and later many of the Magnum photographers," she says. Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide is one of her current favorites.
Almeida continued working at the Los Angeles Times as a copy messenger and eventually scored an internship as a desk assistant in the Southeast bureau. That led to a photo internship during the 1984 summer Olympics, then work as a Times freelancer. A 1985 "Friends of Photography" workshop with Mary Ellen Mark "really changed my perspective" she says. "It opened up my world to more artistic documentary photography. It really blew me away." She continued to refine her technical skills with classes in fine art printing and the zone system of exposure (developed by Ansel Adams) at Otis Art Institute.
Last week, the LA bureau's lead entertainment journalist, Michael Cieply, took the NYT buyout and jumped to the Deadline website as executive editor.