ASHEVILLE – My father had his own photography studio in New York City for a while when I was growing up. He was a self-taught photographer and often practiced portraiture by having my siblings and I pose in the studio, and everywhere we went.
So we have tons of Chávez family photos, except for my dad, since he was always behind the camera.
That’s what I notice about award-winning Citizen Times photojournalist Angela Wilhelm. She’s always busy capturing the visual heartbeat of Asheville, whether at the recent holiday parade, Friday night high school football, a restaurant opening or fall scenes along the Blue Ridge Parkway. But she’s not big on selfies.
So when I was reporting with Angela, I started taking photos of her at work.
I think this is some of my best work!
But no one can touch Angela’s work when it comes to photos and video. She is a true artist, but also the consummate photojournalist. Our reporters are some of the best in the state, their work is enhanced when accompanied by Angela’s photos.
A true photographer must not only have a good eye for detail, color and composition, but must have a good ear. I’ve seen Angela sit with a source who has experienced tragedy for hours, just listening, showing true compassion, only taking a photo if the source agrees, and sometimes leaving without a photo, if that’s what demands respect. Or asking her a follow-up question after hearing one of my interviews that made the story that much better.
A newspaper photographer must also be fast, sharp, fearless and physically strong, able to lug long lenses and tripods, sometimes up and down mountains. Nor should she be deterred by hurricanes or blizzards.
Angela is an action junkie who excels at covering sports, be it football, soccer or white water kayaking. Angela is also there to document Asheville’s rallies and court cases, protests and political debates. And all kinds of wildlife, from synchronous fireflies to brook trout, black bears to moose.
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She also published a beautiful children’s book, “Special for you, special for me,” unique in the world of illustrated children’s books. Her sister, Ashley Krupp, wrote the words and Angie provided photos of real Asheville children, rather than drawings.
If you have a visual story idea for Angela, email her at [email protected] Follow her work on the Citizen Times Instagram account @citizentimes. Here’s more about Angela in her own words:
Question: Where did you go to university and what did you study?
Answer: I graduated from Ohio University in 2011 after majoring in photojournalism.
Q: How long have you been a photographer? Where did you work before the Citizen Times?
A: I started my career at the Sandusky Register in Ohio in 2011, then moved to Asheville and started working at the Citizen Times in 2016.
Q: What do you think is the role of newspaper journalists?
A: I feel my purpose as a photojournalist is not only to share the news of the day, but also to document my community for history. Asheville has made history in the years I have worked here and it has been a privilege to photograph this community as we navigate through difficult times or exciting opportunities.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a photojournalist?
A: My favorite part of this job is that you never know what the week will bring or who you might photograph. One of my most memorable moments on the job came when I had the opportunity to travel in President Obama’s motorcade as he campaigned through northern Ohio for his second term. Pete Souza, my first photography professor, left his teaching job to be the Official White House Photographer during Obama’s first term. I looked for Souza after Air Force One landed and reunited us under the plane. It was exciting to be able to show one of my best teachers that I was doing the work he helped me achieve.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Asheville?
A: I grew up in a small, quiet farm town, so my favorite thing about Asheville is all that it has to offer. You can go downtown any time in the summer and see something exciting happening. This city not only embraces self-expression, but offers an impressive amount of venues for it. You might find me singing karaoke, kayaking, seeing a show at the Gray Eagle, or bowling with the fine members of the Asheville Sport and Social Club.
Q: What was your favorite/craziest/most interesting person, thing or event you covered for the Citizen Times?
A: The craziest event I ever found myself in was covering the racial justice protests in Asheville on June 2, 2020. Reporter David Thompson flagged me down to the scene where Asheville police were lobbing water bottles and flipping tables of supplies. From our cell phones we tweeted what was happening. In the hours later, as we continued to follow marchers, the whole world witnessed what we could report. It was, and still is, very emotional to look at the faces of so many Asheville community members in the photos I took during that week. Those people continue to inspire me.
Karen Chávez is interim executive editor for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Tips, comments, questions? Call 828-236-8980, email, [email protected] or follow on Twitter @KarenChavezACT.