Monday, October 08, 2007

The Dillingham Diptych

As one who learned to shoot in The Age of COPS, I know a few things about chasing the PO-lice. Mainly, it ain't as easy as it looks on tee-vee. See, for every truncated rundown you chortle over from the safety of your sofa, a thousand fruitless goose chases never escape the edit bay. The same goes for newspaper photogs - who have to summarize their scenarios in a single shot. The very best of that breed possess the mystical ability to repeatedly be at the right place at the right time. (I'd name names here, but Jerry Wolford's cocky enough as it is.) More times than not, we rat patrols of the Fourth Estate roll up just after the shizzle hits the fan. It's frustrating, but you learn to accept it.

Unless you're Russ Dillingham. Just the other day, the veteran Sun Times photographer was in hot pursuit of officers as they tried to flush a fugitive out of an apartment building. Experience, luck, karmic mojo; something told Russ to stay put below as cops bum-rushed a third story balcony. His patience apparently pleased the News Gods, for they rewarded him with a spectacular shot of Norman Thompson launching himself into the ether. Thompson of course, cannot fly and when he landed almost at Dilligham's feet, the 25 year veteran did something many lenslingers wouldn't have the grapes to do: He tackled him.

Sure, the cops were bellowing for help from above, but it was Russ who body-checked the wingless dodger, then sat on him until help arrived. When it did, our photo picked up the camera he'd ditched in mid-lunge and fired off a few frames of the bad guy eating grass. That, to risk rhyming, is bad-ass. Say what you want about remaining objective, Dillingham did what young male newsgatherers have fantasized about since the first press pass was issued: He played hero, and still got the shot. Not bad for a print guy...

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