Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bah! Humbug!

I don't know when I turned into such a Grinch, but this year I've had very little Christmas spirit. The overdose of Santa appearances, toy giveaways and all the other holiday hoopla I'm been sent out to cover everyday doesn't seem to help.

I was talking with another photographer about Christmas and comparing notes on how many times we've shot Santa this year (I'm in second place with five published Santa pics). After a failed attempt to get out of shooting another holiday event, the other photographer asked me why I was so uninterested in the assignment.

"I guess I just don't like...Christmas," I said, kind of surprised myself at the words coming out of my mouth. He understood though. He said shooting Christmas this and Santa that over and over can make you numb to the whole mood of the season. No kidding. I'm usually in a foul mood at these events, trying to make images that convey the opposite emotion. I'm always nice. I smile. I return the obligatory holiday greetings, but in the end I'm trying to get in and out as soon as possible and escape the gathering of happy children and bad Christmas music.

My lack of holiday spirit really became obvious to me when I was shooting The Nutcracker rehearsals. We actually have two ballet companies in Corpus Christi, and they both put on their own version of the holiday show. By the time I shot my second one, with video and on a tight deadline, I was in no mood for fun. At one point I almost lost it as a little girl struggled to spell her own name to me. I shoved my notepad in front of her and said, "Here. Write it, and FAST!"

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I only have to try and make happy Christmas images for a couple of more days. Hopefully I can keep my inner Scrooge at bay. I'm pretty sure, though, no matter how well I fake it I'm going to get a lump of coal in my stocking this year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Recently, we all huddled into a staff meeting as "Scripps 3.0" was unveiled to the newsroom. Basically its our parent company's new initiatives to improve the quality and profitability of all the newspapers in the E.W. Scripps chain. The good news is the plan is journalism focused. Its about looking at improving our daily product and focusing on community journalism, not slashing and trimming the news to death. More good news it that much of the organizational initiatives were modeled after things we were doing at the Caller-Times, so there will be no massive shake up as far as jobs. Job descriptions, however, have changed. We are no longer "reporters" and "photographers." Now we are all "Multimedia Journalists."

Yeah, I know. Anyone who's worked in a newsroom the last five years has probably heard this before. I myself was a bit skeptical. I've been told several times (at more than one paper) that its time to be web focused. Usually I get all excited and try to immerse myself in multimedia. Unfortunately after a month or so everyone goes back to being reporters and photographers, and no one seems to want to invest the time or resources needed to do good multimedia. This time, it may be different. I'm told everyone in the newsroom is going to be held accountable for doing their share of videos, web updates, blogs, tweets, etc. And with the orders coming straight from corporate, we are suppose to see a real investment in new media. I'm really hoping it will be different.

So in my first week as a "Multimedia journalist," I put together two videos. One in a couple of hours on deadline, and the other in about a day and a half.

They both turned out well, I thought, but the second one I really enjoyed. I saw an ad in our paper about a piano sale at the university, and had visions of a room full of pianos just begging to be played. After a couple phone calls and some vaguely grounded reasoning, I had a willing subject.

With the new initiative, we were told we don't really need permission to do things (at least that what I took from it). If you have an idea, just do it. If a reporter wants to take their own photos, go for it (God help us). If I want to pull a student away from studying the week before finals and force him to play the same song over and over for my amusement, have at it.

He was actually a great sport, super cooperative and a pleasure to work with. I should take a lesson or two from him.

(P.S. Sorry, about the auto play. I manipulated the embed code a bit to get the bigger video size on my blog, but then couldn't stop it from playing as soon as it loaded.)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

November Moments

Where did November go? It didn't exist on my blog, apparently, but I promise I was still shooting. I've struggled a bit staying focused for one reason or another, but I'm trying to get back on track. Today I was going through photos for the NPPA monthly clip contest, and these moments stood out to me. I thought I'd share them with you.

The Special Olympics held a bowling competition last month. I've never been a fan of shooting in bowling alleys, but I really liked how this photo came out. Like all three of these images, its kind of a quiet, subtle photo. I love quiet and subtle. I want to move their and open up my own photo studio.

Above is from an Opera dress rehearsal. I've been lucky to get backstage at a couple of local productions this past month. The back stage scene can make for great photos. I found this one particularly pleasant.

And finally a moment of prayer at a local Veterans Day ceremony. They prayed for the recent victims of the Fort Hood shooting, but its a clean, patriotic image that stands alone no matter what the situation.

In other news, I've been suddenly thrust back into the night shift this week. Hopefully leaving the cushy day shift slot I've had the last 5 months will be just the shakeup I need to refocus on making good photos. We shall see.