ThreeSixty HotSeat: Ben Garvin, Pioneer Press

Ben Garvin holding celery pushing each side of his beard forward with celery.
Ben Garvin has a little fun with stop motion for his viral video, “Magic Beard.”

When Ben Garvin says “I’ve seen it all,” it really means something.

From President Barack Obama to the saddest parts of Hmong immigration, Garvin has not only seen it, but as a photographer, he has captured it mid-moment. His ten years with the Pioneer Press have allowed him to experience the madness of a St. Paul “wet house” for alcoholics and the thrill of a Crashed Ice event downtown.

“My job as a journalist is to surprise people,” Garvin said. “You want it to feel like something that’s not going to last.”

The Pioneer Press photographer in action.

Follow on Twitter: @bengarvin

Garvin’s multiple talents include being able to take stunning photos, make magic beard viral videos and still show off his ability to write on the blog, Flash Garvin. Whether he is trying to be thought provoking, inspiring or funny, Garvin can speak to people through a lens like few can.

“Pictures, in themselves, can tell a story,” he said.

Also a freelance photographer for the New York Times, Time Magazine and Newsweek before joining the Pioneer Press, one of Garvin’s best abilities is to snap off photos with nothing but his iPhone and a connectable lens. After chasing President Obama around all day – like he did during a recent Twin Cities visit — something smaller and faster definitely comes in handy.

Garvin majored in creative writing at the University of Arkansas and earned a master’s degree in visual journalism from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. His approach to journalism can best be summed up by the story of his favorite moment. He shot video on the medical marijuana issue — and its potential legalization impact on one young boy who suffered from daily seizures. Following the child into hospital rooms, seeing him through treatment, and viewing the effects of taking marijuana for the first time shaped his understanding of powerful stories.

That’s Garvin’s message to young journalists.

“People want to feel like you genuinely care about them.”


Editor’s note: ThreeSixty is fortunate to have wonderful media volunteers collaborate with our instructors during summer camp. As part of our July Intro to Journalism Camp, each visiting media member is being (cruelly?) subjected to our ThreeSixty HotSeat, where students can ask whatever question they’d like to help build a “getting to know you” profile.

Special thanks to Ben Garvin of the Pioneer Press. To learn more about the author of this piece, Zekriah Chaudhry, check out bios from our 15 campers.