Ah, the redemptive qualities of an Easter Egg hunt. No matter how surly you’re feeling, it’s hard not to grin when two year olds are scrambling at your feet for brightly colored candy eggs. This year it was the toddlers of greater Archdale taking part in the pint-sized rite of passage. I’ve probably shot a dozen egg hunts over the past fifteen years. Before I had kids of my own, it was little more than a pleasant interlude. Now that my own girls are well past the pull-ups stage, it’s a chance to reconnect with the Crayon Years. It’s enough to make a burned-out photog forget about all the misery he documented the day before. Almost.
But then again, that’s what life in news is all about. One day you’re lowering your lens as the body-bags roll by, the next you’re tracking a group of adorable infants as they scoop up pastel-colored plastic. In my world, it ain’t gotta make sense - it’s just gotta make deadline. So I got about my reflective way, taking assignments and exceeding expectations. Occasionally, the subject at hand shakes me to the very core - but most days I don’t even stop to notice. Besides, who has the time to pause and ponder when the next outrage or ecstasy is only a cell phone ring away? I sure as hell don’t.
Still, some of the images do stick. At night they replay in an endless loop on my bedroom ceiling. Most times I can roll over and feign rest until I fall asleep. I’m betting the homicide detectives I know have an even harder time shutting down that particular hit parade. But I do wonder what my own accelerated intake of other people’s peril is doing to my psyche. I am, after all, a man of limited education. Most of what I know of this world came to me through a television news lens. Before signing on as a TV stevedore, I had little grasp of crime scene protocol, didn’t know just how crazy they were at City Hall, had never visited a homeless person’s underpass campground. Now that I’ve endured all this in spades, where does it leave me? Far more experienced in the ways of the world, but still not sure what to make of all the data I‘ve collected.
Now, back to the Easter Egg hunt. This I do know. When shooting such an event, chuck all plans of crisply sequenced video.
Forgo all pretense of proper framing. Silence the familiar inner chant of wide-medium-tight. To try and control the actions of two dozen hyped-up two year olds is a lesson in futility. You may as well try herding cats. You’ll come back with much better footage if you simply lose the sticks, shoulder up and roll with the moment. You’ll have plenty of chances to forge new ground in news lens cinematography at tomorrow’s drive-by shooting. Just don’t be late - the lead investigators don’t like repeating themselves.