Jim Young captured Indy's history for almost 40 years as a photojournalist. He died at 86.
Jim Young had a knack for being in the right place at the right time with a camera in his hands. The longtime photojournalist captured news, sports and one of Indianapolis’ most memorable crimes.
Young worked at The Indianapolis News beginning in 1961 and then The Indianapolis Star in 1995. He retired in 1998 and died Monday at 86.
"The fact that he landed in photojournalism was just so perfect for him,” said Mindy Marshall, his daughter. “The main thing that drew him to it was the fact that he could create art in a different way.”
Young’s most widely recognized photos were taken of a hostage situation in downtown Indianapolis in 1977. One man wired a shotgun to another man’s neck then marched him through the city before commandeering a police car — Young was there to capture the ordeal.
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Joe Young, who worked with Jim Young as a photographer at the newspapers, said being able to capture spot news was what set Jim Young apart. The two men are not related.
Joe Young remembers Jim Young running out of the newspaper office then re-loading his camera with film from a downtown store to capture the hostage situation.
If they were submitted properly, Jim Young’s photos of the hostage and gunman would have won the Pulitzer Prize for spot news in 1978, Joe Young said. Other photographers agree.
"He wasn't bitter, that's the great thing,” Marshall said. “He would tell that story of the photos and the Pulitzer and just sort of acted like it is what it is.”
Joe Vitti, a former photo editor with The Indianapolis Star, remembered Jim Young as reliable.
"I could count on Jim Young to have the photos we needed to go with overnight stories, when I came in at 5 a.m. to man the Indianapolis News Picture Desk," Vitti said.
Jim Young trained at the Herron School of Art to be a painter before landing in photojournalism. He was honored more than 35 times during his photojournalism career.
Jim Young was married for almost 50 years, raised four children and was an animal lover. He adopted his dog Kosmo after taking photos of the animal for the newspaper’s pet of the week section.
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Charlie Nye, editor of the photo and graphics team with The Indianapolis News, remembered Jim Young helping him get situated in Indianapolis.
"I was indebted to him for reaching out, being a nice guy and helping me get to know the city here in Indy,” Nye said. “He was a real friendly guy and was always going out of his way to be helpful to anybody."
Jim Young was a strong photographer of news and sports, but could take on any assignment thrown at him, Nye said.
"Jim noticed this young race car driver Jeff Gordon before a lot of other people did,” Nye said. “He (Jeff Gordon) was only 17 years old but was winning a ton of races in Indy. Jim had some good photos of him in a photo page we did.”
A photo of a crash at the Little 500 at Indiana University that Jim Young took in 1988 also stood out in Nye’s mind.
"The month of May was just the coolest thing ever for him,” Marshall said of her father. “He had his dream job and he'd spend every day at the track the whole month taking photographs. He loved it and took some amazing photos during that time. That love for the Indy 500 was so ingrained in who he was."
Jim Young also enjoyed shooting Colt’s and Pacer’s games and would tell stories of ride alongs with police officers and paramedics in the city, Marshall said.
“He recognized how lucky he was and that he had the coolest job on the planet,” Marshall said. “He's proud of the legacy he left behind in all the photographs of Indianapolis throughout almost 40 years. He can tell the story of Indianapolis through his work even though he's gone.”
Contact Jake Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jake_Allen19.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Longtime, award-winning Indianapolis photojournalist Jim Young dies