Meet AP Photographer Chris O'Meara '85

Nov 20, 2015

by Salma Nawlo | Staff Writer

During the early 1980s Massachusetts-native Chris O'Meara was determined to fulfill his dream capturing newsworthy images. At the time, O'Meara was not only an FSC student learning the competitive ropes as a journalism major, but he was also a full-time staff photographer at The Ledger. To enhance his skills and gain even more experience, he became deeply involved with the College newspaper and yearbook. Today, O'Meara is a successful photographer for the Associated Press (AP), the world's oldest and largest newsgathering organization. We interviewed him to get a little more information on his journey after graduation.

Pictured is Chris O’Meara as an FSC student in 1984.

Why did you choose FSC for undergraduate school:

FSC is a smaller college; I thought I would get more of a personalized, hands-on education than at a larger university and definitely the weather. Recruiters would visit in the dead of a New England winter with photos of students wearing short-sleeved shirts and shorts and show photos of oranges growing on campus! It was an easy choice.

Can you discuss some of your current responsibilities as Staff Photographer for AP?

I’ve had a front row seat for quite a bit of history, good and bad, from being with President Bush in Sarasota, Fla., on 9/11, to watching teams celebrate championships.

I’m basically responsible for news coverage on the west coast of Florida, as well as all professional and college sporting teams in the area. I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph World Series’, Super Bowls, Stanley Cup Finals, NBA Championships, and major golf tournaments, including the Masters, PGA Championships, and U.S. Opens. Olympic games in Vancouver and London and more than 100 space shuttle liftoffs. I’ve photographed every U.S. President from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama.

Can you list any awards, honors, recognitions that you may have collected throughout the years?

I won several National Press Photographers Association photo contests when I was working for The Ledger, but since joining the Associated Press, I pretty much stopped entering.

How do you feel Florida Southern prepared you for your current job?

It gave me the chance to shoot every day for The Southern newspaper and for the yearbook.

How do you feel FSC prepared you for the “real world?”

Pretty much for the same reasons; it was a chance to take pictures every day and get photos published in The Southern and Interlachen, as well as helped build a portfolio of work that I could go around and show potential employers.

Pictured is the yearbook Interlachen team of 1984 of which O’Meara was a member.

What kinds of hands-on collaboration were you involved in with your faculty members while at FSC?

FSC really didn’t really have photojournalist program when I attended, but I did receive a lot of guidance from professors, Hal Waters, and Rick Wilber for helping me become a better overall journalist. John Obrecht taught photography classes when I attended and he was always available to help critique my work.

For students who are currently aspiring photographers/ photojournalists, what advice can you give them?

A photographer takes pictures ALWAYS. I never go anywhere without a camera. Camera phones are fine for your social media page, but they are nowhere near as good as a DSLR camera. Invest in a good affordable one. Find photographers whose work you like, try to emulate their work, and reach out to them, I can’t say I’ve ever run across a photographer that is too busy to help. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s a great way to master your craft.

Check out some more of O'Meara's impressive work: