Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Vacation with confidence

I have tomorrow off. Sometimes days off are questionable because of newspapers' needs. Luckily, the paper has the full staff around, so as long as I'm back to work by Friday, I won't be particularly missed.

This is one of the nice/bad things about different-sized newspapers.

At The Richardson News (my previous, smaller paper), I was the entire photo staff. When I asked for vacation, it was an elaborate dance to find a "slow week" for me to leave. When I returned, I was actually missed and the editors and staff members were happy to see me return. Then life got back to normal for everyone.

At a larger paper, we can take vacation almost any time. However, we sometimes feel like small cogs in a large machine. If we're there, we're useful. If we're not there, it's not a major problem other than budgetary (each PJ is still a deduction from the staff budget, but there's additional strain on the freelance budget).

Similarly, technology has isolated photo staff members. With a WiFi laptop and digital equipment, we can pick up my assignments and submit images from any location. If we want, we could avoid seeing any co-workers on most days. This is a major change from the old darkroom days where most of the staff had to process and print in the office.

I moved downtown post-darkroom. Even then, we needed to process and scan images downtown (color negative film).

Even though the newspaper has a large staff (more than 30 photographers), I sometimes may not see one of the other PJs for a few months because we're on different shifts or one of us miss the monthly meetings.

I dreamed of this situation many times in college when my fingers were getting wrinkled from too much time in the darkroom, but I miss those days a bit now. This feeling is probably similar to missing being poor or hungry. It's much easier to think nostalgically of something while removed from it and no longer suffering.

Anymore, we don't have anything to complain about. We make OK money for doing a cool job. Deadlines and some events are a little stressful, but it keeps us happy at the same time.

Enough for now,

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