Post photographer Wayne Hinshaw wanted to stay close to the action
By Susan Shinn
As a sophomore in high school, Wayne Hinshaw suffered a knee injury that ended his dreams of playing football in college and beyond.
He put down the ball and picked up a camera.
After 37 years and four months as a photographer with the Salisbury Post ó he’s a precise kinda guy ó Hinshaw is putting down the camera as he retires.
James Barringer was the first photographer hired by the Post. Back then, in the 1960s, photography was a cost-intensive process. Photographs for the paper went through an engraving process.
The development of offset printing made photographs more affordable, and therefore, more pictures were going in the paper.
More photographers were needed.
With Hinshaw out of sports, he figured the best way to remain close to it was to take pictures. He took pictures for his high school yearbook, and did the same when he became a student at Catawba College. He majored in political science because there was no journalism major.
David Setzer, then the college’s public relations director and yearbook adviser, encouraged him.
“He had this Rolleiflex camera hanging around his neck that was bigger than he was,” Setzer remembers. “After the first roll of pictures, there was never any doubt ó that kid could shoot.
“His photos for the yearbook were just extraordinary.”
Whenever Hinshaw ran into Barringer and Johnny Suther, who were taking pictures for the Post, he grilled them for information.
“They were both helpful in telling me how to do things,” Hinshaw says.
He was told several times the Post was hiring another photographer, but the timing was never right for him.
In the meantime, Hinshaw worked for J.P. Stevens in Greensboro in cost accounting, and later as a yearbook representative in Virginia, taking photographs for yearbooks.
“I was good at it,” Hinshaw says. “I shot 33,000-plus school kids my last year and renewed more business than anyone else. I was doing well. I hated selling, but I was a good salesman. I tried not to be high-pressure.”
He’d stayed in touch with Setzer and found out the Post was hiring.
“The Delmar folks thought I was crazy to leave ó and I probably was,” Hinshaw says.
He took a pay cut to join the newspaper.
“I was so happy when he got on up here,” Setzer says, “because that was his love ó real photography.”
The ’68 Catawba grad arrived at the Post in July 1971, soon after the first color photograph ran in the paper.
It was a picture of a horse in a field.
The reproduction was off because the process was so new, recalls Wade Fisher, who was press foreman.
“We really didn’t know what we were doing,” he says. “It turned out terrible.”
From then on, Fisher always said of that photograph, “Now that’s a horse of different color.”
But the process improved, and more color worked its way into the paper, because then-editor Steve Bouser wanted it.
The addition of the Associated Press’ Leaf Desk in the 1990s paved the way for more color ó because the separations could now be done by the photo staff.In recent years, Hinshaw has become known for his travel photo packages.
He enjoys the packages, he says, but even more so, he still enjoys shooting sports. He admits that it’s gotten more and more difficult the last several years with his bad left knee.
He remembered what Dick Darcy of the Washington Post said once about photographing sports.
“He approached sports the same way he approached news,” Hinshaw says, “and I really bought into that. You’ve got stuff happening all around you. It’s not planned. It’s not orchestrated. It’s all there. It’s up to you do use your talent and ability.”
“I think the fact that he knows sports makes it easier,” says Sammie Hinshaw, his wife of 40 years. “He can anticipate things.”
In a sporting event, Hinshaw says, there is a key play or turning point.
“You want to have a picture of that. It’s the same with news.”
You’d think after 37 years that Hinshaw might have a hard time pinpointing his favorite assignment.
It was the day he and Elizabeth Cook, now the Post’s editor, spent at the White House with Elizabeth Dole.
It was the week before Reagan was shot, and Dole at that time was working with special populations who visited the White House.
“I enjoyed that with my political science background,” Hinshaw says. “We spent all day in the White House press room. I remember there was a huge fire across the street, but nobody budged because they were assigned to the press room.”
Over the years, Hinshaw has become an invaluable source for Cook.
“I have suddenly become very conscious of all the questions I ask Wayne on a regular basis,” Cook says. “He is a font of wisdom about this community, the people in it and how the Post has covered them through the years. Wayne is also our conscience from time to time. He holds high ethical standards, and I value his opinion.
“And then there are his top-notch photo skills. Wayne has captured countless, priceless images for Post readers to enjoy.
“The good news is that he will still take photos for us from time to time, and he won’t have to continue working on what has become a very difficult schedule. He works more than seems humanly possible sometimes.
“Jon Lakey will be our remaining staff photographer. As head of that department, he’ll work with freelance photographers and reporters to provide photo coverage for the Post. It’s a daunting job, but Jon’s ready to take it on.”
At home, Hinshaw always could rely on his wife.
Sammie and Wayne Hinshaw met in 1963 on a blind date, arranged by friends.
“She was just overwhelmed, I imagine, wouldn’t you think?” says Hinshaw, who’s become quite a teaser over the years.
“I never did date anybody else,” Sammie Hinshaw says.
“No need to,” Hinshaw quips.
“I was really shy,” Sammie Hinshaw continues. “That first date, we went to the movies. It was a quiet date. He got talkative later. He asked me out again and it started from there.”
The Hinshaws married in 1968 and have two children, Chad, 34, and Heather, 30.
Over the years, Hinshaw has kept one goal in mind in his work.
“I’m not working for the Post,” he says. “I’m covering an event for the readers. You really work hard, because those people are the people who appreciate what you’re doing.
“Every assignment is important because to the person you’re covering, that assignment is the most important thing in those people’s lives.”
Hinshaw points to a recent assignment with lifestyle editor Katie Scarvey about a couple who makes apple butter the old-fashioned way ó outside in a big kettle.
“When I was leaving, I heard the man say, ‘That was a nice feller, wadn’t he?’ ” Hinshaw says, and suddenly his eyes get a bit shiny. “That meant something to me.”
Hinshaw doesn’t have a plan for his retirement yet.
“You’ve run and you’ve run, and you’ve worked nights and weekends, and suddenly you don’t have to do that,” Hinshaw says. “Hall Steele told me you have to have a plan, and I don’t.”Since her retirement from teaching, Sammie Hinshaw has become a volunteer with Meals on Wheels and the Friends of the Library. Hinshaw doesn’t think that kind of work would appeal to him.
He’d like to coach at some level, but ultimately doesn’t think his knee would allow that.
His son wants him to do a book of his photographs, and he’s thinking about it.
Chances are it may not be too long before Hinshaw picks up that camera again.