After a most punishing summer, it’s finally beginning to feel like Fall in the Carolinas. About damn time. Now, granted - mild weather ain’t much to write about - but since I spent so much time bellyaching’ about the cloying heat - I feel I must make amends. Besides, even my fellow news shooters are breaking out the long pants, signaling some kind of Autumnal Photog Equinox. This probably pleases me more than anyone, as most of the photojournalists I know would happily dress like they’re leaving on an Outward Bound trip year round if they could. That’s cool, but I’d rather adorn myself in fabrics that don’t bring to mind the first day of middle school, thank you very much. It’s not that I’m all that fashionable; there are way too many coconut and palm tree shirts in my closet for me to ever claim sartorial superiority. It’s just that … I’m forty years old … shouldn’t I at least pretend to be respectable?
I have a dear friend who drops by to see me whenever he blows through town on business trips. “Man, I wish I could dress like you!” he says - taking in my cargo shorts, cabana shirt and tennis shoes. Of course, he says that while draped in a dark business suit, the kind of outfit that - while perhaps not all that comfy - comes in damn handy when you’re applying for a loan, picking up the kids or some other adult endeavor. I always shrug it off and tell him he may not be so fond of the weekly stipend that comes with the casual wardrobe. But he’s got a point. Several times in this last decade, I’ve turned down opportunities to leave the world of newsgathering, to go do something that would require a more mature look than say, wrinkled cabanawear and scuffed Nikes. Each and every time however, I’ve chickened out - not for the change in wardrobe a different gig would bring, but for the freedom a fly new suit would take from me.
See, a photog must be ready for any assignment. City Council Meeting, Water Park Visit, Prostitution Round-Up -the sky’s the limit, as is the gutter. With that in mind, we news shooters dress for comfort, if one can be comfortable stuffed into the shotgun seat of a speeding squad car’s cockpit. Of course, we stand just as good a chance of being sent to the Governor’s Mansion as well - a fact that rarely stops us from wearing something the roadies at OzzFest might shake their mullets at. But that’s okay too, for interloping in something wildly inappropriate is intrinsic to the photog lifestyle. Just ask the dude who wore flip-flops to the flashflood, or that chick in greasy culottes hobnobbing with the Senator's wife, or even that jackhole who sported wrestler pants and bedhead to the country club breakfast benefit. (Hey, I overslept!). Yeah, when I think about it, the things we photogs wear just make sense - about as much sense as that goober walking through the cornfield in a three piece suit, furrowed brow and oversized microphone.