Monday, April 26, 2004

Some days don't work out

Mark M. Hancock / © The Dallas Morning News

Firefighters extinguish hot spots in a burned out apartment at the Country Club Apartments in Carrollton on Saturday, April 24, 2004.

Some days simply don't work out as planned. It doesn't mean a PJ did anything wrong, it simply means plans didn't happen.

Friday I shot a sportrait (Sports section portrait) on deadline, got safe shots of a festival in Tarrant County and left to shoot the Fort Worth Symphony for the overnight page. I checked with the festival assignment editor and I could get additional shots on Saturday to fill out a package.

On my way to the Symphony, I got a call to do an overtime shoot on Saturday morning several hours drive from Dallas. No problem. The shoot was a birdwatcher's outing at a state park three hours drive from Dallas at 8 a.m.

I transmitted the symphony shoot and came back to Dallas to pick up a 600 mm f/4 lens for the morning shoot. I got home, ate, and crashed at 1 a.m. At 5 a.m. the alarm went off.

The assignment said it might be canceled if the weather was bad. It was, but I still needed to proceed until I got the kill call. I stepped out of the shower when I got the call to cancel. So much for overtime. Oh well.

I couldn't go back to sleep for a while, but thought I better get a nap or my day would really be rough. I took a nap, and woke up to, at least, get some additional shots the festival in Tarrant County before my assigned evening shoot. I had safe shots, but no "eye poppers." As I prepared to leave home, I got a call to go to Collin County for a double homicide (supposedly execution-style).

I got there quickly, and set up. I shot the police sealing off the area. Then, they were ready to have a public information session (let us know what happened). I shot the investigating officer as he spoke with the reporters.

He said the death was basically an elaborate suicide with a terrified wife as a witness. In other words, I may as well stop shooting because it wasn't going to be printed. Newspapers and broadcast news typically don't report suicides unless it involves an additional homicide or some other very strange public event (like jumping off a major highway overpass into oncoming traffic).

I left the scene and started rolling toward my actual assignment (also in Collin County) because I couldn't make it to Tarrant County and back before the next shoot. However, I got another call to go to a three-alarm fire back in Dallas County.

I got there after the flames were under control, but the firefighters were still extinguishing hot spots. I got an OK shot, but nothing to scream about.
I transmitted the shot and raced back up to Collin County for the assignment.

At the assignment, I found the owner of the Indian grocery store was not there and the employees weren't great English conversationalists – and I don't speak Hindi. They called the owner and handed me the phone.

He explained the subject I was there to shoot had called him earlier in the week and told him she would be in India for the next month. So, he didn't go to the store because there was nothing for me to shoot.

End result?

After 16 hours, I had spent the day racing from county to county. I had transmitted one shot on deadline from my truck. It didn't make the main Metro section because of space, but got in the Collin County edition.

I did everything right. I covered two breaking news events and one scheduled assignment. I shot more than 200 frames and traveled almost 200 miles for the day, but didn't make the main paper.

Some days don't work out.

Enough for now,

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