NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press has named J. David Ake as its new director of photography, turning to one of the organization’s most experienced newsroom managers to lead its global photojournalism.
Sally Buzbee, the AP’s senior vice president and executive editor, made the announcement on Thursday. Ake will start his new role on Dec. 1 and be based at AP’s New York headquarters.
Ake is currently the deputy chief of bureau for visual journalism in Washington, where he has directed photo coverage of the White House, Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and U.S. political coverage, including the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns, as well as this week’s midterm elections.
“David is an accomplished and visionary photographer and editor,” Buzbee said. “He also is a true leader, with a track record of identifying and mentoring talent, and of leading change. He’s also approachable and highly collaborative, just the kind of leader we need to build on the legacy of AP photojournalism and lead it into the future.”
The AP produces one million photographs a year, and its photojournalists have captured some of the most recognizable images in history, winning 31 Pulitzer prizes.
As director of photography, Ake will be responsible for the production of the AP photo report, including spot news, enterprise and investigations, sports, entertainment and more. In his new role he will work with regional news managers to put in place clear editorial decision-making channels, develop metrics for photography, engage with customers to better understand their needs in a changing market, and to foster diversity across the AP’s photo staff. He will report to Derl McCrudden, deputy managing editor for visual and digital journalism at the AP, and will be a member of the senior editorial management team.
“I am still amazed by the magic of photography,” Ake said. “I get the same feeling of excitement when I see a good picture today that I did when I developed my first roll of film. That is why I’m thrilled to be collaborating with the best team in photojournalism to tell the world’s story in images.”
Ake joined AP in Chicago in 1997 and has previously served as deputy director of photography, guiding AP’s photo coverage of major stories like the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina. He has been both a picture editor and photographer, and prior to the AP worked at Agence France-Presse, Reuters and United Press International.
In his career, he has traveled to more than two dozen countries, and has run coverage of dozens of major stories, including the Columbine school massacre and the 2000 presidential recount. As a photographer and editor, he has documented the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W, Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. He also captured the destruction of Florida’s Hurricane Andrew, the 1989 San Francisco earthquake and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. He has covered eight Olympics, more than 25 Super Bowls, six World Series, eight NBA Championships, World Cup soccer, World Cup skiing and much more.
“David’s appointment as director of photography is an important milestone in the AP’s journey, as we continue to develop our report in a fast-changing media landscape,” Buzbee said. “He cares deeply about photojournalism, and will be a terrific mentor to staff around the world.”
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