With a camera around his neck, longtime Rutland Herald photographer Vyto Starinskas has walked Rutland's downtown streets for more than 30 years, and has documented a small piece of local history with every click.
But after three decades as chief photographer at the Herald, Starinskas' job was eliminated, and last Tuesday was his final day. He was told the decision was strictly financial and his position wasn't the only one. The paper's general manager says three employees were let go last week.
Starinskas says he is taking only fond memories of his many years as photographer at the Herald. But he says in a time where many companies are finding ways to cut costs, it is important to remember the power of photojournalism.
"I definitely think people are touched emotionally by good photo journalism," Starinskas said. "Where are the readers going to finally say we want a certain level of quality in our photojournalism or we are going to stop subscribing? I don't know where that is."
But as the local photography legend looks forward to what is next, he pauses to reflect on some of his brightest memories most powerful images.
"This is Lithuania in 1991. It was a protest for independence," Starinskas said, showing one photo.
And he says it was the people who motivated him the most.
"I think the response I get from my pictures is what kept me going and keeps me going. Being able to take pictures for the newspaper and having them displayed and get positive reaction is amazing," Starinskas said.
He says it wasn't about the awards or making the front page for a car crash to him, it was about the story behind the picture. The emotions of a tearful goodbye, the joy of 900,000 screaming fans at a concert or lending a helping hand to a struggling horse during a water rescue.
"Being able to share lives and being let into their private lives and being able to touch their hearts, and being able to bring that to other people and emotionally touch so many people with pictures and photos," he said.
Starinskas says since the announcement of his layoff, the number of appreciative messages he has received from the community has been overwhelming and is a true testimony that even if his job is no longer there, his pictures will never be forgotten.
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