Saturday, July 10, 2004

Photograph the notes

Vinny, an 18-month-old Chihuahua, (top) tries to use telekinesis to get the last bite of Brooke Fossey's hot dog (bottom) at the 2004 Grand Prairie Road Shows at a private park in the Grand Peninsula neighborhood in Grand Prairie on Friday, June 25, 2004.

Mark M. Hancock / © The Dallas Morning News

Photojournalism is a set of mistakes. The more experience a PJ gets, the fewer mistakes they make (hopefully). We can either suffer through the mistakes firsthand or learn from each other's mistakes. I think the purpose of this blog is to explain some f-ups and try to prevent others from suffering the same. (Yes, I do know about the electrocuted monkey experiment.)

In this spirit (not the monkeys), I again suggest PJs take photographs of their notes as they complete each page. Then the cutline information is clustered with the images in the permanent archive.

They have been pushing us to start doing this instead of filing a CD and cutline info in the hard file. In our case, we have a yada-yada-yada terabyte jukebox platter archive system. So, they want all the information there and backed up.

Having shot film for too many years, it's hard for me to "waste" frames. I'm over it now. Here's why (this is the I-get-to-suffer-while-you-learn part).

I had a casual Friday shooting schedule. I shot a nice little parks and recreation informational carnival in Tarrant County and then shot the new, Metrosexual haught spot in Dallas.

The PARD shoot eventually produced acceptable images. With some good shots in the bag, I headed off to my next shoot in Dallas.

The club was too packed to move but interesting. Because of the club's darkness, I approached it as a "get the feel" assignment. I used a tripod for most of the frames and got the swirling mass of people and color from every angle.

I took it a little further and did some rear-synch flash, slow exposure images on the packed dance floor as well to show how pretty everyone was (I believe "pretty" is the operative word for all genders in this club).

I had my shots after two hours of work and a lot of sweat. I was shooting my way out (getting the exterior shots), and I realized my notepad had fallen out of my camera bag. I knew it was in the club because I used it. I knew to check for it before I left the shoot because I had already lost a notebook years before.

I searched the crowded club for it, but I couldn't find it in the throng of gyrating bodies and perfume. Luckily neither shoot was on deadline.

I left a biz card with the club manager and he told me to call back at 2 a.m. I did. He said call back at 2:30 a.m. I did. He said he would call me if he found it. I stressed the importance of the cutlines from my previous shoot. He said he would call back.
At 4 a.m., he called back. No luck.

Saturday I shot a Burn MLS game against D.C. United and AP wanted deadline shots (blog entry to come about Fox Sports' use of those shots). Then I had another shoot for deadline (yet another future blog entry). Afterward, still no notepad.

So, Fayrouz and I went back to Tarrant County on Sunday (my day off) to find the people from the first shoot. It was a new subdivision and most of the event's attendees had walked to the park. I remembered the first names of two of the people I needed and the last name of another two. I also wanted to get the name of a Chihuahua.

After three hours of going door to door with a laptop of images from one property developer to another, making phone calls for confirmation and knocking on a few neighborhood doors, I had cutline information for the people I really needed. I still didn't have the Chihuahua, but I could punt with an animal.

Five hours after I started, I transmitted three images to the grid, got a spell check from the desk and could finally start my work-free day.

On Monday (my other day off), the club dude called. He said he found my notepad, but he was tired. He said I could pick it up on Wednesday. Wow! What a relief. I thought I was going to be forced to pay for that expensive miniature spiral notepad out of my own pocket. Thank goodness I don't work for a big daily metro newspaper...

So, my point is: If you want to have a stress-free day off, take photos of your notes as you complete each page. It will be good for the company too because then the information is always included with your take.

Enough for now,

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