- see entire recommendations below -
"I am in the middle of a project and the beginning of having Mary help me on this one. Let me tell you she is kicking my butt and I couldn’t be more grateful for her. "
—Allison Zaucha, Independent Photographer
“She has this amazing ability to turn up the volume on a story and give its voice clarity and meaning.”
—Ioana Moldovan, Photojournalist, Documentary Photographer and Writer
"Mary is everything you could want in an editor. She inspires one to push their own limits and exceed their best expectations."
—Rick Loomis, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"Her ability to find the humanity in your voice and bring clarity to your eye will elevate your skills as a photojournalist."
—Robert Gauthier, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"Mary raised the bar for me by challenging me to constantly and consistently make photos that surprised me, that pushed me, and that scared me."
—Melissa Lyttle, Independent Visual Journalist
“From day one, you can tell she passionately wants you to succeed because of her honest feedback and her willingness to fight for images or tell you flatly something doesn’t work.”
—Matt Gade, Staff Photographer, The Daily Republic
"Mary has elevated my work not only as a photojournalist, but as a video journalist and storyteller."
—Katie Falkenberg, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"I always felt that she was looking out for not just me, but the story we were invested in."
—Michael Robinson Chavez, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"Her professionalism and dedication to the craft of telling a story through photography and video is amazing."
--Genaro Molina, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"From nearly the moment we were introduced – when Mary Vignoles first started working at the Los Angeles Times – she and I embarked on a long-term documentary project together. And from the get-go, her energy and enthusiasm for storytelling were quite apparent. I not only appreciated it, I fed off of it.
Our first project together resulted in a five-part series that followed the lives of three high school students who enlisted in the Marine Corps as part of a buddy program. For more than a year, from boot camp to Afghanistan and back, Mary and I tracked their story. From the excitement of graduating high school to the pain of losing friends to war, Mary edited through thousands of images to find the gems that conveyed the story perfectly.
She was quick to embrace not just picture editing but audio as well, so that recorded interviews and natural sound were edited into a narrative that told the story online as well as in print. Her enthusiasm for this project and my work was reflected and amplified throughout the department to other projects and other photographers with whom she also worked with quite impressively.
Mary is everything you could want in an editor. She inspires you to push their own limits and exceed their best expectations. She’s smartly aware of what it takes to organize a project and bring it to fruition. She’s a perfect collaborator who brings good ideas to the table. And beyond all of this, she’s a good person who cares to bring her best game every day."
Rick Loomis, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"I am in the middle of a project and the beginning of having Mary help me on this one. Let me tell you she is kicking my butt and I couldn’t be more grateful for her. As a photographer early in my career gaining Mary’s insights, challenge, and support is exactly what my work needed to get me moving in the right direction."
Allison Zaucha, Independent Photographer
"In my nearly ten years in this field, working with Mary has been one of the highlights of my career. As an editor, she is meticulous, thoughtful, and incredibly thorough – looking through and studying each image, all the while masterfully crafting a narrative arc, recognizing and finding nuances in photos that make the story even stronger, and also make your work sing. She finds images that you may have overlooked; she thinks of things to photograph on your next shoot that maybe hadn’t even crossed your mind.
But her work as an editor goes far beyond just editing and picking the best images. From the beginning, she thoroughly takes the time to understand the story you are trying to tell, or the idea/goal of the project, and gets deeply involved in it – brainstorming ideas with you, thinking and envisioning the arc of the story, offering guidance, ideas, and suggestions throughout the entire storytelling process. She becomes as committed to it as you are, and brings a brilliance to creating and building the story structure – both through still photos, as well as in video, including interviews, so that the story is told in the strongest and most powerful way.
Mary also has incredibly strong organizational skills that help you, as a content gatherer and storyteller, organize and plan so that you can successfully execute a project that may have time constraints or tight deadlines, or just to work on the project most efficiently, being sure you have the time you need to focus on what is most important. She has a strong sense of what needs to be included, and what doesn't – both in the pre-production of a story, as well as in post, when the editing happens.
The care, time, and undivided attention she gives to the project – through photo and video editing, reading transcripts and storyboarding, combined with her innate sense of storytelling, helps shape the work into the strongest it can be.
She is a great collaborator as well, respecting and listening to your ideas and opinions, encouraging and nurturing your personal vision, while also bringing her unique vision, masterful ideas, and strong knowledge of photo and story editing. She wants you and your work to shine and succeed, and she will do everything she can to help you do so. She gives you a push when you need it, and inspires and encourages you along the way. Mary has elevated my work not only as a photojournalist, but as a video journalist and storyteller. Her presence in the freelance world, available to a breadth of visual storytellers, is a great benefit to the entire industry."
Katie Falkenberg, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"I had the pleasure of working with Mary Vignoles for several years while I was a staff photographer at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. And during that time period, my growth — more than any other time in my career — was exponential. Mary has a nuanced eye, the fearlessness of a risk taker and some solid editing sensibilities on the back end — and always managed to make me look better by picking the perfect, storytelling moment, and then shepherding it though to make sure it was a well-placed, well-played photograph on the page. But it was more than that. She was the first picture editor I ever worked with who was also a good front-end picture editor. She had this incredible ability to talk through a story or a situation beforehand, and help me see it/approach it differently. Mary raised the bar for me by challenging me to constantly and consistently make photos that surprised me, that pushed me, and that scared me. She wouldn’t just let me slide in under that bar, she made me jump over it. Those lessons, early on, helped guide me and taught me to never settle. And that’s something I still strive for on every assignment."
Melissa Lyttle, Independent Visual Journalist
"Mary bridges the gap between what you want to say and what your images ultimately communicate. Her ability to find the humanity in your voice and bring clarity to your eye will elevate your skills as a photojournalist. She pulls no punches with her straight talking approach, yet brings a high level of empathy when she evaluates your images."
Robert Gauthier, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"Tenacity is a word I would use to describe Mary. We were hired by the Los Angeles Times during the same month and had an excellent working relationship for the 8 years that she was there. Tenacity comes to mind because Mary could be counted on to fight for your photographs, for the space in the paper and the green light to get the story off the ground in the first place. I always felt that she was looking out for not just me, but the story we were invested in.
Mary has an excellent eye for telling photographs, and while we would occasionally battle over images, it was always with the goal of having the most constructive and telling image carry the day. We worked on projects from all over the world together, not just the finished product but the intense research that went into each and every story. Good stories aren’t handed out to most of us at the Times, you have to research and pitch, and Mary was pivotal in helping negotiate the often-confusing corridors to get a project the green light.
There are lots of good photographers; good editors are harder to find. Mary is one of them and I was sorry to see her leave the paper. Her talents and skill set are excellent and I am happy to provide her a strong recommendation.
Michael Robinson Chavez, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"As a professional photojournalist for 35 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many excellent photo editors. I would count Mary Vignoles as one of the best. Her professionalism and dedication to the craft of telling a story through photography and video is amazing. She can help a photographer define a story and provide guidance through the process, whether the piece is a long-term photo essay or a quick picture story. Mary and I have worked on many stories together. One of our most challenging was a two-year project illustrating a radical new program called “Project 50,” designed to house 50 of LA’s neediest homeless. For two years, I followed the lives of eight individuals in the program, and Mary guided me every step of the way. Her constant input, support, and guidance helped in telling the stories of these people. Mary’s editing and vision on the project led to many awards and accolades. Another challenging project that we collaborated on was elderly survivors of Hurricane Katrina two years after the disaster. The photo essay, edited by Mary, was ultimately nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Whether she’s helping you edit a photo essay, video or your portfolio, Mary’s vision and commitment never falters."
Genaro Molina, Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times
"It was September 10th, 2015, when I had the inspiration to write Mary a message asking for her help. I had just returned from Ukraine, doing a story from the front-lines of the war with Russia. I thought it was the most important work I had done that far and believed it needed a professional editor to give it the narrative arc I couldn’t. As a freelance, self-taught photojournalist from Romania, I had never worked with a professional photo editor before. The whole process was unfamiliar to me.
“Hi Ioana,” Mary wrote back, “it's hard to put in a little Facebook message what I can do, but basically anything you need.” At that moment, I was far from grasping the full extent of what that “anything” meant.
Ever since, Mary has been there for every important body of work I have done. She was never just an editor joggling images to send the right message, but also the person who challenged me to push my limits, to dig deeper, both into the story and myself. Mary has a sensitive eye, a deep and comprehensive view and a keen attention to details. She has this amazing ability to turn up the volume on a story and give its voice clarity and meaning. And she has the patience to make me understand why one photo is more suited than the other or why another approach might do the trick.
Working with Mary not only gave my stories the better look and feel they needed, but it made me a better photographer.
Now I know what “anything you need” stood for. It actually meant everything you need. I guess September 10th, 2015, truly was a day of inspiration.
Thank you, Mary! For precisely everything. "
Ioana Moldovan, Photojournalist, Documentary Photographer and Writer
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mary the past few years, where she’s been an independent picture editor. From day one, you can tell she passionately wants you to succeed because of her honest feedback and her willingness to fight for images or tell you flatly something doesn’t work
She has this great ability to filter out the clutter and find the focus in your work. Even though we’re 1,500 miles a part, you can tell as soon as you start working with her, she’s as dedicated to the project as you are.
A true picture editor, is more than just selecting photos. It’s working with the photographer to figure out the best way to show the story you’re trying to tell. They want you to succeed pulling no punches, but also respecting and listening to your thoughts. That’s Mary.