Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Requiem for a Vet

It’s hard to age gracefully with a TV camera on your shoulder. Not only does it physically make you lopsided, long term exposure to all that news can be corrosive to the soul. So can auto repair I guess, but I don’t think I’d be nearly as world-weary had I spent the last seventeen years puttering about some under-oiled engine. Instead I’ve logged endless miles with a lens in the back; racing from happenstance to disaster and back again - all so Joe Bob Bunyon might give it a glance while he irons his socks. I do still very much dig what I do. The henchman’s ingress, the distillation of daily events and the unexpected dependability of spot news still holds me in great sway … in theory, anyway. Just don’t tell me we’re making a difference, would ya? I’d rather focus on making deadline; for that, in essence, is What We Do.

But fill that slot for more than five years in a row and it will all strobe out of focus. Flea markets morph into four alarm fires, stand-offs coagulate into frothy potboilers, protest rallies march down long dark alleys. Most stories I forget before they even air, but untold images still seethe and fester inside my head, at least until I write about them. For others, that insider's vista never dims; instead it distorts the horizon until said veteran is at the end of his tour, the owner of a bad lower back and a drawerful of faded station logowear. If that seems dark, see the Complaints desk down the hall. It's just past the photog's lounge - that seedy little room where the shooters stew in their juices. That's not discontent you're smelling; it's the scent of arrested development.

Which is why so many photojournalists opt out halfway through their careers. TV news is a young man's game and growing old is ill-advised. Whereas reporters become anchors and producers become managers, photogs simply become disenchanted. That's what happens when your career ladder is a lowly stepstool held together by gaffer's tape. Sure, the gear gets lighter but the pace only quickens and all that running and gunning never really gets you anywhere. Which is my incoherent way of saying another hearty soul is bracely leaving the rat race. Photogguy's been shoving life through a tube for 19 years. That's alot of broken news. Very soon, he'll log his last logo'd mile, before escaping to a life of community college projects. No shame in that game. Nor is their any dishonor in returning to the fold, should reasonable working conditions prove too difficult for a self-admitted deadline junkie. Congratulations, Brian...

1 comment:

photogguy said...

Thanks, Stew.

It's eerie sometimes to ready your posts, because your mood very often mirrors mine.

Gets kinda hard to slog through the BS sometimes, huh?