Friday, February 9, 2007

Rubber Ducky Man

Wednesday morning I was sent to photograph ice rescue training on a suburban St. Louis lake. It has been unusually cold around here the last few weeks - and the lake was coated with about six inches of ice. Coincidentally, two kids were rescued after falling through ice the night before - which gave us a news hook, or reason to go take pictures of the training.

I like taking tight shots of faces - though a lot of times they aren't published. I thought the ice on this trainer's gloves captured the cold they were working in.

I arrived near the end of the exercise. The men training in the water were wearing what looked like yellow, rubberized dry suits. From a short distance away, the suits looked like the ones that Coast Guard rescue divers wear. But when the firefighters came to shore, I noticed their suits weren't waterproof. I thought it was cold on shore ... it had to be incredibly freezing in the water.

Photojournalism: Why I Shoot

I got my first Canon SLR camera for Christmas, way back in 2001. You should see some of my first pictures. They were horrible - and that's being kind. I took pictures of chain link fences, weeds, weeds at sunset and blurry shots of my dog.

I was just getting started. Would I be a wedding photographer? A fashion photographer? Could I see myself taking school portraits?

Who would look at my pictures? Why would they care? Would anyone want to frame my pictures and put them on a wall?

I had lots of questions and not many answers. Many people said to take pictures for myself. The pictures I liked were of other people experiencing life.

One day, I called up Romona Washington - the executive editor of the News-Sun, a tri-weekly in my hometown - and asked to show her my portfolio. Could I have a summer job?

Those first pictures - of the weeds, people holding flags, sunsets - helped me get my first newspaper gig. Nearly four years later, I'm in St. Louis.

I found photojournalism; or maybe it found me. Life is great either way.

To answer my questions from four years ago, I hope people look at my pictures because it makes them feel something. Some days it might be joy. Other days, the feelings aren't so good.

I still take pictures of fences and flowers from time to time. But mostly, I shoot people. Lots of people. And I love it.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

It's cold

For a Florida boy, 42 degrees is cold. In fact, it starts getting cold when the mercury drops below 55. So when I'm inside, wearing a sweatshirt, pants and slippers, it's certifiably freezing.

I'm nearing the end of my second month at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. When I accepted the internship, no one told me the thermometer would stay below freezing for nearly a week.

Several years ago, I tried to create a blog using MoveableType. However, I'm only proficient with basic HTML. MoveableType, at least back then, was CSS based - a coding language which defies me to this day.

I thought I would give blogging a second try; partially because free hosting sites have gotten much better, but also because a blog is a way to share photos that won't make it into my portfolio. Heck, they might not even be publishable.

Hopefully they will all have something in common - my vision - something I'm still trying to define.